Warehousing in Conjunction Problems of the with Furniture Removals Haulier and Carrier
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Concluding the Notes on Conditions Governing Furniture Removal, with a Brief Reference to Those Relating to Warehousing of Furniture
BY reference to two more points, I can nOw conclude this brief résumé of the conditions which furniture removers should apply in connection with their businesses.
A feature which has not yet been dealt with is that concerning the all-important question of payment. There is usually a clause to the effect that all charges should be met on, or, if required, ,before delivery of the goods. This is, as a matter of fact, more of the nature of a " saving clause," one which is not, except in particular instances, strictly enforced. It is included as a safeguard, and gives the removal contractor the opportunity of insisting on such payment if, in his view, and possibly having in mind his own particular knowledge of the customer, he thinks he had better take that course.
Finally, in concluding this summary of the conditions governing the contract of removal, I must again emphasize that, for the conditions to be binding, the parties concerned must be made fully aware of them, for they are enforceable only in those circumstances. In the event of any dispute, the first question that will be asked is whether the claimant for damages was made aware of the conditions.
One method of ensuring that the customer has such knowledge has already been referred to, and that is to print the conditions on the back of the form of estimate and, on the front thereof, to set out a notice drawing attention to them. Further, as was indicated in the first of this series of articles, provision should be made on the form on which the customer accepts the estimate, for his signature to follow a note to the effect that he is accepting it, " subject to the conditions specified on the back of the estimate."
That department of the furniture remover's business which is concerned with warehousing is, to a certain extent, dealt with separately Lt is, at least so far as the conditions relating to warehousing are concerned. They are, principally, connected with formalities governing the acceptance and release of goods: limitation of liability, especially in respect of damage arising from irrespoiisibic packing; payment of charges and progressions to ensure that payment is made. regularly; steps to be taken in the event of no payment being made, and reference to the liability of storage of explosives, or otherwise dangerous goods.
Not Quite a Guarantee To a certain extent the conditions relating to warehousing are, in fact, a form of guarantee, and in this I would remind the furniture remover that a written guarantee of this kind, in a sense, belies the name, for it is not so much a guarantee as a limitation of liability on the part of the warehouseman.
Most readers of " The Commercial Motor " are familiar with the form of guarantee or " warranty " which is given in connection with a new motor vehicle. It includes such clauses as " in the event of any defect being disclosed in . . . months after dispatch from the contractor's works . . .
the company undertakes . . will change the defective
parts free of charge . .," etc.•
The foregoing is the clause which, as a rule, catches the customer's eye because he feels that this is, in reality, a guarantee.
The clause which is most important in the eyes of the seller of the commercial vehicle is, however, that one which modestly enongh, appears last of all. It runs: " This warranty . . . is in lieu of all warranties, conditions and obligations, whether expressed or implied by statute or otherwise."
I am sure that the manufacturers of commercial vehicles who read this article and recognize this clause will forgive me for drawing attention to the three words--implied by statute. For those who can appreciate their meaning they disclose that the warranty " instead of being something for nothing" for the buyer, as he may imagine, is really a shield for the manufacturer to protect him from unlimited claims which might otherwise be made under the Sale of Goods Act.
Similarly, that set of conditions under which the haulier stores furniture is drafted to preserve him from extravagant claims which might otherwise be made upon him under the common law of the land.
, The clauses in these conditions—safeguarding clauses I prefer to call them—are three in number. Two of them will be recognized as having a parallel in those already quoted in reference to furniture removal. The first limits, to £10, the liability on any one article, suite or package unless the value has been previoasly declared in writing and insurance paid, or agreed to be paid, thereon.
In the second the warehouseman disclaims responsibility for loss of, or damage to, any article contained in drawers or any package or case not packed by the contractor's own employees.
Loss or Damage Protection Now comes a clause which is more specifically applicable to the warehousing of goods. in it the warehouseman must make it clear that he will not accept responsibility for loss or damage by moth, rust or damp, fire, aircraft or an act of God, civil commotion, invasion, war, explosion, or deficiency in articles of a perishable nature. In the same clause it is agreed that insurance for fire risk will, on request, be effected in connection with any property which is warehoused but that, in such circumstances, the premium of the said insurance must be paid by the depositor.
Next comes clauses relating to the goods, being conditions under which they are accepted for storage. The depositor is required to furnish an address to which communications relating to the goods may be directed, and to register his or her signature at the warehouseman's office. The latter provision is, of course, for mutual protection.
There is a provision that the depositor should prepare, in, duplicate, an inventory of the goods which are to be warehoused, and must supply the warehouseman with a copy. If the customer does not take that step there is usually a condition that the warehouseman, himself, will make such an inventory and make a minimum charge of Ss, for so doing. If the inventory be made by the contractor it is agreed that he shall forward a copy to the last-registered address of the depositor, and shall be held to be correct unless disputed within three days.
It is usual for a warehouseman to take exception to the storage of certain classes of goods, and it is advisable to make this clear on the conditions relating to warehousing. As a rule, the goods which are excepted are those which are likely to cause damage to other materials stored in the warehouse. As a general rule, this risk is covered by the insertion of a clause to the effect that no goods of an explosive or other dangerous nature will be accepted for warehousing. Further, that if such articles be sent they will be removed, sold, destroyed, or otherwise disposed of at the discretion of the contractor.
The next point to deal with is access to the goods by the owner. The latter may take the view that he has a right to examine the goods as and when he wishes to do so. On the other hand, the warehouseman, for his part, is not likely to agree that he may allow access to his premises at any time of the day or night.
A suitable clause to settle this difference, and yet provide for reasonable access, states that the depositor can inspect his or her goods by appointment. If it be necessary to open them up for examination, the warehouseman reserve, the liberty to make a small charge for that service.
Next comes the question of the removal of the goods from store. This, in effect, becomes a job of furniture removal and is, naturally, governed by the same conditions as those already set out in relation to that operation.
A new problem, however, arises. In the case of an ordinary furniture removal job the householder usually makes inquiries some time ahead of the date when he wishes the removal to be effected so that the contractor has ample notice and there is no difficulty, as a rule, in agreeing upon a date when the work can be done.
To ensure this it is usual to 'insert some clause to the effect that three_days' notice, at least, must be given for the removal of furniture from store. Moreover, in the months of March, June and September, presumably the busy months for removals, not less than a week's notice is to be given.
In any event, no warehouseman will allow any property, no matter to whom it belongs, to be removed from his depository without an order signed by the depositor and, even then, not until all charges have been paid.
Another thing which must be made quite clear is what is covered by warehousing. In order to avoid disputes as to the extent of the services covered by the charge for warehousing, and so that there shall be no misunderstanding, a definition of these services should be included as one of the conditions. It is usual to stipulate that the charges for rent or storage are exclusive of the cost of removing, packing, stowing away or taking out of storage. Moreover, a charge for receiving or delivering will be made to depositors who may convey their own goods to or from the depository.
The final clause in the conditions relating to warehousing, like that in those relating to furniture removal, is that which makes provision for the contractor to safeguard himself against trouble in obtaining payment for the storage and for his services. To cover'this it is usual to include a definite clause to the effect that all properties are received and held subject to a general lien for moneys due.
Further, that if the rent or charges due in respect of the property shall be in arrears for a period longer than one year the contractor shall be entitled. after 14 days' notice has been given to the owner, the notice being addressed to his last known place of abode, or; in the event of no address being known, 14 days' notice by advertisement in a public newspaper of intention to proceed to a sale, to open and examine the whole of the property, and to sell it at a public auction, taking the moneys so obtained to cover or put towards payment of the accrued charges. The same warning given in dealing with the conditions which apply to the removal of furniture, namely, that the contractors should make sure that the customer is aware of the conditions and should acknowledge that he is aware of them, applies also in connection with warehousing. In this, too, there is usually a form of acceptance of contract, and the contractor should see to it that, except when signing the form and accepting the contract, the customer also makes that essential acknowledgement.
• The furniture remover and warehouseman must, of course, always bear in mind that, notwithstanding any conditions whicir he may print and to which he obtains the agreement of his Customer as a safeguard against claims for damage from various causes, he will find that no judge or magistrate will support him in refuting such a claim if it can be shown that the loss or damage is clearly due to negligence on his part. No set of conditions can , possibly be allowed to excuse such conduct. Further, if it be thought likely that negligence comes of ignorance, as might well happen in the case of an inexperienced haulier taking on a substantial job of furniture removing, this will add emphasis to the point made at the commencement of this series of articles, that furniture removal is a specialist's job and shoUld not be undertaken by the novice. If a haulage contractor be considering developing that line of business he should first of all engage experienced men to help him to do the work. In subsequent articles I propose to deal with the economic aspect of furniture removing and, in so doing, to refer to some of the interesting points raised by the correspondent whose letter was, in effect, the originating cause of my writing this series. S.T.R.