When engaging in a business deal in the produce industry, be sure to keep written records of your communications. That means keep a copy of all of your notes, a record of your emails and any pertinent documents. If arrangements are made over the phone, be sure to confirm details of the conversation in writing be it in a call log or your supplier file.
How long should you keep these records? There are certain records and documents that must be kept for at least two years including (but not limited to): invoices, inspections, sales tickets, purchase orders, and bills of lading.
For other written records pertaining to a deal, they should be kept until the file is settled and closed. Should there be an issue that may lead to a dispute, we recommend keeping records for at least 9 months from the time you were aware there was an issue. Nine months is the filling deadline for registering an issue with DRC.
Emails, phone logs, handwritten notes, or supplier file entries are all relevant in the case of a dispute. Any document showing that something has been discussed and agreed to may be deemed pertinent during the dispute resolution process.
A great example is to always be sure to remind the buyer and document in writing that you are expecting a federal inspection unless you agree on a private inspection. Any and all unusual agreements such as private inspections and restrictive contract terms like “FOB Acceptance Final need to be Discussed, Understood & Agreed Upon (DUA). DUA is an acronym you’ll want to remember. The party claiming such special agreements will have the burden of proving they were agreed to if the other party objects when disputes arise. If you don’t know what all the rules are, you may agree to something that might limit your rights. An arbitrator will look at your notes in the course of the dispute resolution process. Your notes should make it clear what terms have been discussed, agreed and understood between the shipper and the receiver. Stay tuned for more on DUA in a future Solutions article.
For more information please call or email the DRC Help Desk at:
DRC Help Desk | 613-234-0982 | Info@fvdrc.com