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WEIGHTS AND WEIGHING
Section F.—When carload shipments which are provided for in classification and tariffs at fixed or estimated weights are re-weighed at the request of consignor or consignee, the above charges will be assessed, regardless of any variation in weight.
Section G.–Where carload shipments are billed at minimum carload weight and are re-weighed on request of consignor or consignee, the above charges will be assessed, unless the variation in the weight increases the freight charges.
RULE 10.-WEIGHT AGREEMENTS. Section A.—When shippers' weights of property are accepted and applied by the carriers under weight agreements, properly supervised, such weights should be designated in the prescribed manner on waybills, shipping tickets, bills of lading, or weight certificates (see Rule 7, Section B), and the property should not be reweighed, except as provided in Rule 5. Proper supervision means checking of the records of the shipper by the authorized representative of the carrier to verify the weights and descriptions furnished, and the weighing of a sufficient number of cars for verifications.
Section B.-When investigation, through examination of the shippers' records or by re-weighing, discloses error in weights or description shown on original billing, the charges shall be adjusted to the proper basis, and notice of such change shall in all cases be transmitted to the interested carriers or their representatives.
Section C.-Forms of weight agreement suitable to the character of the business tendered for transportation shall embrace the following general principles, and copies thereof shall be filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission. The agreements shall be in writing and provide that: (See Form No. 54).
(1) The shipper shall report and certify correct gross weights (except where estimated weights are provided in tariff or classifications) and correct description of commodities on shipping tickets, bills of lading or weight certificates, and correct gross tare and net weights when obtained on track scales, where such weights are used for billing purposes.
(2) The shipper shall allow the authorized representative of the carrier to inspect the original weight sheets, books, invoices and records necessary to verify the weights and description of the commodities certified in the shipping tickets, bills of lading or weight certificate.
(3) The shipper shall promptly pay to the authorized representative of the carrier bills for all undercharges resulting from the certification of incorrect weights or improper description.
(4) When weights of uniform or standard weight articles are based upon averages, the shipper shall give prompt notice to the authorized representative of the carier when any change is made in the package or material used which will affect the weight arrived at by use of the average.
(5) The shipper shall keep in good weighing condition any and all scales used in determining weights and have track scales tested, maintained and operated in accordance with the Track Scale Specifications and Rules approved by The American Railway Association and shall allow the authorized representative of the carrier to inspect and test them.
(6) The agreement may be cancelled by ten days' notice in writing to either party.
(7) All shipments made under the agreement will be subject to rates and charges prescribed by classifications, tariffs or rules of the carriers interested.
INTERPRETATION OF THE NATIONAL CODE OF RULES GOVERNING THE WEIGHING AND
RE-WEIGHING OF CARLOAD FREIGHT.
Approved May 19, 1915.
Interpretation W-1. A shipment from one consignor to one consignee and destination, subject to actual weight and L. C. L. rate, is weighed on a track scale to ascertain weights for waybilling purposes.
QUESTION.-In such cases do the provisions of the National Code of Weighing Rules govern?
Interpretation W-2. QUESTION.—When a shipper or consignee requests that a car containing a commodity which from its inherent nature is not subject to shrinkage be re-weighed, and if such re-weighing discloses no error in the billed weight of more than the tolerance, but upon request the carrier weighs the car light, and the result of such re-weighing of the light car, taken into consideration with the result of the weighing of the loaded car, discloses error in the billed weight of more than the tolerance, shall a charge be made for re-weighing either the loaded or empty car?
The routing of freight is a very important function of both the shipper and carrier, because the freight rate to be applied depends upon the route over which the freight is forwarded. The lawful charge on a shipment is the tariff rate, via the route over which the shipment moves (see Conference Ruling 214, page 242), unless misrouted by the carrier.
In directing the routing of freight destined for a place reached by two or more railroads, the shipper should know by which railroad delivery is to be made to the consignee, so that the freight may be routed accordingly and extra expense of trucking or switching at the destination avoided.
The consignee's place of business may be nearer the freight station or team track of one railroad than that of any of the others, or it may be located on a private or assigned siding of one of the railroads. In such cases it is essential for the shipper to direct the routing of freight so that proper delivery may be made at destination without an extra expense.
If two or more routes from the point of shipment is available, the shipper should know the rates via the different routes. In cases where different rates are found, it is frequently also found that there are differences in the time required for transporting the freight over the different routes. In many cases time is a most important factor to be considered in selecting a route, the expeditious movement of freight being at times more essential than the saving of a few dollars in freight charges.
The route or routes via which a rate applies can be determined only from the tariff in which the rate is published. Some tariffs show specifically the routes via which the rates apply, while others do not. In the latter case the rates are legally applicable via any or all lines shown in the tariff as participating carriers. Rule 4 () of Tariff Circular 18-A reads:
“The different routes via which tariff applies may be shown, together with appropriate reference to application of rates. When a tariff specifies routing, the rates may not be applied via routes not specified. A tariff may show the routing ordinarily and customarily to be used and may provide that, if from any cause shipments are sent via other junction points but over the lines of carriers parties to the tariff, the rates will apply.
"If a tariff contains no routing directions, the joint rates shown therein are applicable between the points specified via the lines of any and all carriers that are parties to the tariff; and shipper must not be required to pay higher charges than those stated in the tariff because the carriers have not agreed divisions of the rates via the junction through which the shipment moves. If agent of carrier bills or sends shipment via a route or junction point that is covered by the tariff but via which no division of the rate applies, it is for the carriers to agree between themselves upon the division of the rate, and the intermediate or delivering carriers may demand from the carrier whose agent so missends shipment their full local rates for the services which they perform. (This must not be construed as conflicting with routing and misrouting rulings published in Conference Rulings Bulletins.)"
Section 15, paragraph 8, of the Interstate Commerce Act gives the shipper the right, when there is more than one route between two points, to "designate in writing" by which route his property "shall be transported to destination,” and requires the carrier to "route said property and issue a through bill of lading therefor as so directed." The duty is also imposed upon connecting carriers to "receive said property and transport it over said line or lines and deliver the same to the next succeeding carrier or consignee according to the routing instructions in said bill of lading."
The law itself very clearly gives the shipper the right to route his property, and there has been no occasion for the Interstate Commerce Commission to amplify or interpret the plain provisions of the law. However, in Conference Ruling No. 321 this statement is made: "Carriers will be held responsible for routing shown in bill of lading"; and in Conference Ruling No. 199 (see page 239) the Commission says: "When a shipper has given routing instructions which the carrier fails to transmit to its connection, the carrier so failing shall be responsible for all additional transportation charges resulting from a misrouting of the shipment.” Paragraph 16, Section 1, of the Interstate Commerce Act, reads as follows:
"Whenever the Commission is of opinion that any carrier by railroad subject to this Act is for any reason unable to transport the traffic offered it so as properly to serve the public, it may, upon the same procedure as provided in paragraph (15), make such just and reasonable directions with respect to the handling, routing and movement of the traffic of such carrier and its distribution over other lines of roads as in the opinion of the Commission will best promote the service in the interest of the public and the commerce of the people, and upon such terms as between the carriers as they may agree upon; or, in the event of their disagreement, as the Commission may after subsequent
hearing find to be just and reasonable."
Service Order No. 22, of July 25, 1922, was issued by the Commission under the authority of the above quoted section of the Act. The railroads were permitted, under this order, to forward freight to destination over the least congested routes, regardless of shipper's routing instructions or the application of the tariffs. On shipments so diverted or re-routed over unauthorized or irregular routes, however, the rate applying over the route designated by the shipper, or over the cheapest route in the absence of shipper's routing, must be protected.
No difficulty is ever experienced in collecting overcharges which result from the failure of a carrier to observe the routing instructions given in a bill of lading.
Ordinarily, when the shipper's routing instructions are not observed, shipments are not subjected to a different transportation rate, the rates via all routes usually being the same; but it frequently happens that additional expense of draying or switching is incurred at destination as a result of the failure of a carrier to make delivery in accordance with the routing specified by the shipper in the bill of lading. On this question the Interstate Commerce Commission says, in Conference Ruling No. 474 (a):
"It is the duty of a carrier to make delivery in accordance with routing instructions. Where such routing instructions have not been followed and delivery is tendered at another terminal than that designated, it remains the duty of the delivering carrier to make delivery at the terminal designated in routing instructions, either by switch movement or by carting. In either event, the additional expense involved in making such delivery must be borne entirely by the carrier responsible for the misrouting. ..."
And in Conference Ruling No. 509 (see page 269) the Commission says:
"In case the consignee elects to accept the shipment at the terminal where delivery has been erroneously offered rather than insist upon delivery at the terminal designated, the shipper or the consignee is entitled to recover damages in the sum of the difference between the expense of drayage actually incurred at a reasonable charge therefor and the expense which would have been incurred if proper delivery had been effected by the carrier. The carrier responsible for misrouting the shipment, resulting in a claim of this character, may reimburse the shipper or consignee entitled to reimbursement wholly at its expense without a specific order of the Commission in each case. In pursuing this course carriers must accept full responsibility for the correct application of the rules and must make reports to the Commission in accord
ance with its order of July 3, 1917."
A large number of the errors of both shippers and carriers in routing shipments are made in the cases where combination rates apply. Where there is no through rate, the lowest combination of rates should be ascertained and the shipment routed through the junction or basing point on which the rate is made. This is a responsibility that rests upon the initial carrier where the bill of lading contains no routing instructions.
The Interstate Commerce Commission, in Conference Ruling No. 214 (c), has held that in the absence of specific through routing by the shipper, it is the carrier's duty to forward shipments via the cheapest reasonable route of the class designated by the shipper-all-rail or rail-and-water. If there be no practicable rail-and-water route, the agent must, in accordance with this ruling, forward unrouted shipments via the cheapest available route
In Conference Ruling No. 190, the Commission, having under consideration a case where a carrier routed a shipment via an all-rail route when a rail-and-water route was available at a lower transportation rate, said that taking into consideration the liabilities of carriers and the question of marine insurance upon water-borne traffic, the carrier did not negligently misroute the shipment. The Commission, in this conference ruling, and in Conference Ruling No. 321, said that where an all-rail and rail-and-water routes were available, the carrier must have the shipper designate which route he wishes to use.
In the event a shipment is actually forwarded via any except the cheapest route, the shipper is entitled to a refund of the excess charges resulting therefrom. This is covered by Conference Ruling 214 (a). In cases of this kind, it is advisable to pay the billed charges at destination and then file a claim for overcharge, because the delivering carrier may be entirely innocent of the misrouting and cannot waive the collection of the excess charges without specific authority of the carrier at fault.
The Commission has held that where a route and a rate are both specified in the bill of lading and the rate does not apply over the route specified, the carrier's agent should ascertain from the shipper which of the two should be followed, and the carrier will be held responsible for damages resulting from the failure of the agent to follow this course. If, however, the carrier fails, after exercising reasonable diligence, to obtain definite instructions, the goods should be forwarded by the route specified in the bill of lading. (Conference Ruling 474 (c).)
This ruling is based on the theory that a carrier's agent should not execute a bill of lading containing contradictory provisions, and that when a rate is shown in the bill of lading by a shipper he expects to get the benefit of it and is entitled to an opportunity to correct the routing.
It is essential for a shipper to know via which initial line (if the shipping point is served by more than one) the minimum rate can be obtained; but unless he is absolutely certain about the intermediate and terminal lines, it is inadvisable to specify routing in the bill of lading, since the initial carrier is responsible for the protection of the lowest available rate. This does not mean that a shipment may be made from New York, for instance, via the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and a lower rate via the Pennsylvania Railroad as initial line be obtained. If a shipment is forwarded via the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad from New York on an unrouted bill of lading, that line will be responsible for the protection of the lowest available rate via its line as the initial carrier.
The rates applying via the different routes being known, shippers should decide between them according to the service afforded and other considerations. By "other considerations" is meant courteous treatment, the prompt settlement of claims, assistance in obtaining advantageous or fair rates and other things of this nature. Ordinarily, however, in selecting his routes the shipper should be governed by the service afforded.
The most expeditious and dependable route for carload freight may not be the best route for less-than-carload freight; and, conversely, a route may afford the best of services for less-than-carload freight and only ordinary service for carload freight. This is especially true of long-distance traffic. The time in transit for carload freight depends largely on two things---distance and congestion. The expeditious movement of less-than-carload freight, called “Merchandise" traffic, depends almost entirely on the number of times it must be transferred en route. Therefore, the routing of carload freight is less difficult than the routing of less-than-carload shipments. The shipper should investigate and learn to what points the several carriers from his shipping point have solid carloads of merchandise traffic. Then he should select the route via which a through merchandise car is operated to, or nearest to the destination
The most expeditious and dependable routes can be learned best by ac experience in shipping, but experimenting may be costly if the shipper does not know just how his rates apply. Therefore, knowledge of rates, shipper's rights under the law, and the rulings of the Commission, as well as actual experience in shipping, is very necessary in routing freight.