Proof of Delivery for Couriers

Getting proof of delivery (POD)

The actual “Proof of Delivery” is made up of three pieces of information, provided by the recipient:

– The actual signature.
– The printed name.
– The time signed for.

The “actual signature” is very rarely needed except if something goes to court (which is when you know you’re really in trouble with your POD arrangements), when you’ll be pleased you got one, and that you kept the paper sheet filed safely.

The “printed name” and the “time signed for” are the two bits of information that you’ll be asked for time and time again, so might as well pass them on to the controller as soon as you’ve received them.

This is just as important as keeping in touch with the controller. It is absolutely central to the service offered to the customer by the courier company – an immediate collection and delivery service with a guaranteed proof of delivery for every job. If you fail to get a POD for a job then as a result of your actions the courier company is failing the customer.

There are certain circumstances in which it is simply not possible for you to get a POD. You may be delivering to a private address and arrive to find no one in, for example. Procedures vary between courier companies, so check with your controller, but generally courier companies insist that you contact their office for instructions before posting the package (if small enough) or leaving it with a neighbour (if it’s too large to post through the letterbox).

Never assume that it’s ok to do anything without specific instructions. Never assume anything. Never do anything that you can prove you’ve done. Never do anything that you can’t somehow undo. The kind of thing that goes wrong here, is that you post it through the letterbox, it turns out to be the wrong letterbox, and you can’t get it back for some reason. If you didn’t check with your controller, that kind of thing will be your fault.

Now information on PODs in detail:

A POD sheet usually includes:
– full pick-up address;
– full delivery address;
– the person’s signature;
– the receiving person’s name printed (it must be readable, as it’s usually the name you’ll be asked for, not the way the signature looks);
– the time at which the person signed.
– number of packages if more than one.
– waiting/loading time details.
– details of any damage.

The address details must include the sender’s addresses, name, company name, street and town or postcode.

If just one of these elements is missing it is not a complete POD sheet, and you could find yourself being asked for information later that you can’t provide.

In practice what often happens is that the person in receipt of the consignment will scribble something illegible on your sheet, possibly in the wrong place, and hand it back. The easiest way to resolve this is to ask their name (they may even have a name-badge) and print it for them along with the current time (use the 24 hour clock) and date.

If they complete all parts of the POD, make sure to check that you can read their printed name and that the time is about right – its no use to you having all the info if it is unreadable or incorrect, and you only discover this when you’re 50 miles down the road.

Most courier companies insist that you use their POD sheets. It’s worth having some blank ones of your own to use in emergencies, especially if you’re working for more than one courier company. You can make these up easily on your pc at home, or buy a book of delivery notes from a high street stationer like WHSmiths.

Completed POD sheets should be kept in a safe place, in an order that allows you to look them up quickly. File them, preferably at the end of each day or at the beginning of the next in the POD file in the courier company’s office, or at your home or office. Scanning them can help, to make emailing them easier. If you’re a real techno-head, scan them, and file them on your smartphone (the iPhone is perfect) so you can email a copy POD from wherever you are when asked. When you’re asked, there’s usually a panic on about it.

The POD sheets are your only proof to the courier company’s customer that the job has been done and therefore also your only guarantee of getting paid for the delivery. Keep all your POD sheets for at least 12 months, giving the courier company time to request copy PODs from you, and for you to check your pay advice. However odd it may seem, don’t be at all surprised to be asked to produce a POD sheet months after you’ve completed the job.

POD information is often requested about two months after the job when the invoice is being queried by the customer.

It is sometimes tempting to think “I gave it to the nice lady who is always on reception, so that’s ok”, and not insisting on a proper signature, especially if you deliver to her regularly. But nice ladies on reception have a habit of lying through their teeth when they are looking for someone else to blame when a parcel has gone missing from reception. So cover yourself every time; get a really good POD every time, and file it carefully. She’ll respect you for your professionalism.

You may also want to look at realtime signature capture systems using a PDA cellphone. Try Googling for it. But make sure your customer is happy not to have a paper copy. There are some real pen-and-ink dinosaurs in the courier world.

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