Customer Liability: Early Drop-Off Best Practices
Rental Management Magazine recently published an article by James Waite, a business lawyer with over 20 years experience in the equipment rental industry. The article “Dropping off equipment at a job site” addressed the following situation:
"We had a piece of equipment stolen after we dropped it at a job site the night before a rental commenced. The customer refused to accept responsibility even though he requested we deliver the equipment early. What can I do to make the customer liable for this in the future?"
-- James Waite
It is common for contractors to request an asset be delivered the night before they actually need it to maximize their workday. Your willingness to fill these requests help to build strong customer relationships. Until something goes wrong and the customer does not intend on taking any responsibility.
Waite put forth a great argument surrounding the legality of the situation and how to protect yourself. In summary, he made two recommendations:
- The rental company may add provisions to the rental contract shifting all liability to the customer as soon as the asset is dropped off on the job site.
- The rental company may prefer to implement an abbreviated “Drop-off Provision,” shifting only some of the risk associated with early drop-offs from the rental company to the customer.
As the rental industry continues to move forward with developments in ecommerce and these drop-off requests become more common, rental companies will need a tool to help them manage these potential liabilities.
What Waite’s solutions do not cover is proof of delivery. Adding the recommended provisions will help to mitigate your risk, however, customers may still dispute that the equipment was delivered damaged or never delivered at all.
Some rental companies already choose to capture images of assets upon delivery, which is a step in the right direction. But managing and properly documenting the delivery can be messy when you are saving images from a driver's phone.
You need a tool that can take those images, time and location stamp them, and attach them to the delivery ticket. Keep all the contracts documentation together and easily accessible.
FleetLogic does exactly that, allowing drivers to take pictures of assets upon delivery and access the same images during pick-up to confirm asset condition. All the information is attached to the rental contract, coupling this evidence with the contract provision Waite recommends will insure that you will be completely protected.
To read James Waite's full article “Dropping off equipment at a job site” you can find it here.