An inspection report provides key information in establishing details in a dispute. The timeliness of the inspection is also key.
Q: We received a load of avocados and noticed some quality problems upon arrival. We called for a federal inspection and we were advised that no one was available to conduct the inspection either that day or the following day. We immediately advised the shipper of the situation and asked if a private inspection would be acceptable due to the circumstances. This was not acceptable to the shipper. We waited for the federal inspection, but we saw an opportunity to sell 30% of the product in the meantime. The results of the federal inspection indicated that the product failed to meet DRC Good Arrival Guidelines. We offered the shipper payment in full for the product not inspected and provided an account of sales for the product that failed to meet Good Arrival. The shipper is requesting payment in full for all product because the inspection was not performed in a timely manner. We don’t think we should be held responsible for failing to get a federal inspection performed in a timely manner when the federal inspection was requested in a timely manner.
A: Jaime Bustamante. This is a situation that commonly happens when product arrives early in the weekend (e.g. Friday evening or Saturday morning). There is no reason not to request a federal inspection over the weekend. Don’t wait until the next available working day to request the inspection. According to DRC’s Trading Standards, when receiving product in deteriorated condition, the receiver’s obligation is to request the inspection within 8 hours when the product arrives by truck or 24 hours when it arrives by rail or sea. However, DRC’s Trading Standards are silent regarding when the inspection must be performed because that is outside the control of the applicant. You were correct in calling the shipper to inquire if they would consent to a private inspection as provided in the DRC Good Inspection Guidelines when a federal inspection is not available. Even when the shipper refuses to agree to a private inspection, we recommend that you call for that private inspection to protect yourself. If the results of the private inspection are similar to the results of the federal inspection taken later, you will have more evidence in your favor when you talk with your client to amicably resolve the matter. It is important to remember that all parties have a responsibility to minimize losses. It is not in anyone’s best interest to leave the entire load unsold for an extended period of time while waiting for a federal inspection. Your offer to pay full price for 30% of the uninspected product is reasonable under these circumstances.
We understand the frustration of sometimes not getting a federal inspection performed within 24 hours, but you should also understand that the shipper cannot be held responsible for this situation either. On an FOB sale, the receiver is responsible for everything that happens to the product after the truck leaves the shipper’s dock, including not having an inspection performed in a timely manner.
Another important factor to determine liability, is the results of the inspection. Product inspected two or three days after arrival that barely fails to meet DRC Good Arrival Guidelines could have met Good Arrival if inspected two or three days earlier upon arrival.