Just wanted to quickly share my experience / ask for advice.

I purchase a kayak a few months ago that was shipped to me by ForwardAir. The damaged the boat—cracked the fiberglass and gelcoat of a basically new boat.

I went through their claims process and submitted a claim that was precisely in accorance with their procedures.

After about a month of “processing” they sent me back a BS letter telling me they would not honor my claim basically because they said I did not follow the correct procedures----the damage was not noticed at the time of pickup and therefore not annotated at that time, but was noticed a couple of days later when I went to use the boat. I contacted them in writing about the damage within the prescribed 10 days, in accordance with their policy. They did not honor my claim because they said that it was not annotated at pickup despite what their claims process says about damage that may not be immediately noticeable being reported within 10 days.

I have sent emails trying to clarify the situation and asking for reconsideration based on their mistake and now am receiving no response.

I think this situation is pretty messed up. It is a legitimate claim and completely in accordance with their own claims policy. I think they are just trying to get out of paying out any money.

What would you recommend that I do?



Sounds Like You Do Have A Problem
Have you attempted to call the freight company? You might do better by talking with someone rather than emailing. Have you contacted the seller, it could be that if your seller has a relationship with the shipper that he may be able to assist. As a last resort you might consider taking the shipper to small claims court.

Happy Paddling,


Sorry that you discovered this the hard

– Last Updated: Dec-22-05 2:12 PM EST –

way. :^( Wish you would have read the posts last spring and summer or posted here asking about shipping.

We went all through this about Forward Air when they crushed Antoinette's new FlashFire last spring. They were nasty about it, gave everyone involved a hard time and cost EVERYONE extra money and time as well. Too long to go into all the details. Just believe it.

BTW: Forward Air IS NOT a transport company!!! They are agents. Have you ever seen a Forward Air truck?! They ship via whoever is the cheapest. That means their name and word mean nothing more than they will facilitate the shipping for you.



Shipping issues
Being in sales, I’m familiar with shipping issues. I have both large and small air conditioning units ship regularly to my customers. The major manufacturer that we use in our company ships “freight included”. They have multiple contracts with many trucking firms. Essentially once the equipment leaves the factory, ownership reverts to the trucker. It is the shippers duty then to deliver the equipment in good shape.

Occasionally, something gets damaged. It is the receivers responsibility to inspect the equipment prior to signing off on it. If the unit is damaged, I’ve told my customers to refuse it and let me know. I then order a replacement unit, notify the factory that a damaged unit is being returned, and once it’s back, I;ll get credit for it.

Hidden damage is another issue. And that’s the way I would approach it with Forward Air. I would demand that a representative from forward Air come and inspect the damage. You then should file your claim accordingly. Shippers are insured for stuff like this. They just treat it as a nuisance. I would also enlist the help of the seller. Be the squeaky wheel! Make them miserable!

Hope this helps!


Not that I am taking their side, but…
they do have trucks. I see them all the time. I would also guess that in this case, the shipper did not package it very well and/or did not get insurance. They are actually a lot cheaper than anyone else and can be good for shipping boats, but not a glass boat that is not packed right. I really don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way out there, but when I ship someone a boat, it is wrapped so that it could go through a tornado. Also, I have delt with this kind of stuff with a lot of different common carriers and it is always the same thing. You have to inspect the boat in front of the people at the terminal or the guy/girl driving the truck. I am really sorry that this happened to you and I hop that you are able to repair the damage. Merry Christmas.


First thing I’d do

– Last Updated: Dec-22-05 4:26 PM EST –

would be to make an "in person" visit to the terminal where you took delivery of the boat. With any luck you might find a manager or person in charge who can help you persue your claim with the Forward Air corporate office (was the packing material damaged in any that the terminal folks could verify?)

If that fails, call the corporate office, demand to talk to "someone in charge" who has the power to handle your situation - press your case as strongly as possible - if all else fails threaten (and be prepared to back it up)legal action (don't forget small claims court). It will probably help if you have an estimate of the cost of repairing the damage - they will not cover the cost of a replacement boat unless the cost of reasonable repairs exceeds the cost of a new boat.

Different folks have had differing expiences with Forward Air - myself included as I took successful delivery of a 18' kevlar 'yak from Denver to Boston about a year ago.

It's important to remember a couple of things:
1. They are agents so the quality of the carriers varies widely.
2. They ship terminal to terminal - try to arrange shipment by the most direct route to minimize transfers from one carrier to another - the fewer transfers the fewer opportunities for damage.
3. Assume they will beat the crap out of the package!
4. Wrap the boat in several protective layers of guaze, shrink wrap, bubble wrap, cardboard, & shrink wrap.
5 Reinforce the ends and cockpit area with extra wrapping
5. Crate the boat - clearly mark the crate "This Side Up" "Top Load Only" & "Fragile" all over the crate.
6. Make "feet" on the bottom of the crate so they can get fork lift forks easily under the crate.
7. Purchase insurance for the shipment.
8. Assume they will beat the crap out of the package.
9. Open the packing and thoroughly inspect the boat (in good light) BEFORE you sign for the delivery.

Three rules you never violate…
… when doing this sort of item via commercial transport:

  1. PAY FOR THE INSURANCE. Full replacement value plus shipping and other costs. It normally does not add all that much to the total cost.

  2. UNWRAP AND INSPECT AT THE TERMINAL. They may give you grief about blocking a busy dock - and may ask you to do it off to the side a bit, but they will understand and cannot prevent this. If they do refuse the shipment and explain that you cannot accept it due to the nature of the item and that even minor damage can result in a total loss. If inspected at pickup they will record the damage and things are easier. If insured, they are even more helpful as it’s not their money then.

  3. PACK WELL - FOLLOW CARRIER GUIDELINES- exceed them where practical.

    I know that does no good after the fact - but all of this has been posted here before. Sorry you didn’t research a bit more first.

    These outfits are not really set up to deal with private individuals. They will, but don’t like it as we don’t know the deal and take up a lot of their time, don’t know their systems, tend not to read/understand the terms and talk to reps before hand, and also tend to file a lot of claims directly against them because we were too cheap or uninformed to insure.

    I can’t blame them for denying the claim. They probably believe you, but they have no way to know what happened to it once out of their care. It’s a business, not some guy who’ll feel your pain and ignore the liability issues. Their insurance and lawyers won’t let them.

    Sorry to not be siding with the fellow paddler on this one, but it is what it is.

    FWIW -I have shipped an 18’3" (no longer made - ans so irreplaceable) Heritage Shearwater via Forward Air from Miami terminal to Sacramento no problem. You take a risk with an odd bit of cargo like that - which is what the insurance is for.

    FWIW2 - Shipper QCC used delivered to me at work (we have a dock) at no extra charge. The driver pointed out same damage on the box and insisted I unpack and inspect and helped me do so. There was no damage on the kayak as the SS u-bolt took the hit (unless you consider a tiny nick in the SS to be damage). If there was I’d have had another boat being built same day - and gotten to keep the other in the meantime if paddleable - as QCC insures and ends up getting paid for 2 boats (I buy one, Insurance company buys one) if this happens (and it inevitable does every so often), pus repairs and resells the first as a discounted item (3 sales in all - not a bad deal). If yours were a QCC they’d take it back no questions asked, whether you noticed the damage right away or much later (even if they can’t file a claim - they can still repair and resell. If they make less or break even they are still ahead with happy customers.

Thanks for all the responses. In response to some questions brought up…the boat WAS fully insured.

It is true that damage should be noted upon pickup; however, there can be damage not immediately noticeable or latent damage.

Their bill of lading recognizes this in that you sign stating that the goods are received in “apparent good condition” Furthermore, it is recognized in their official claims policy that “In the case of concealed damage, notification must be furnished in writing to the cargo claims department within fifteen (15) days from the date of delivery of the shipment.”

I followed their official policy and notified them of the damage after receiving the boat. I talked to the lady on the phone personally and she told me that all was well—just submit the paperwork and it would be covered. Not the case. Now she won’t even answer my emails. Apparently a case of blatently blowing me off I would think.


mcwood4 I have also seen FA trucks
on the road. As a matter of fact I saw on 12/22 on the Mass pike heading west. I have also had 2 yaks shipped by them from NC to MA and CT both were fine. Sorry and good luck let us know how you make out.

Keep on them
Both the terminal staff and corporate office (you’ll get different answers on just about everything from packing requirements to claim policy - and can use this against them).

Not the best time of year to get results though. Probably people out on vacations and just plain stressed out. No excuse, but impacts service anyway.

I HAVE seen a Forward Air truck.
Last week on my way from Mi to La, on I-57…

All above + contact the person / outfit
who shipped it to you and request some involvement on their part … cannot speak for how it was wrapped but probably not good enough. IMO if it is not on a separate set of bunks with nothing else around it for the whole trip with a caring delivery service such as ABC ( NOT the other one ) then a glass boat has to be in a wood crate with several inches of air around it padded and tied in so it will not move even if it gets stood on end… takes about 45 minutes to do it right but never will a problem arise. With this system Forward Air has never messed up one of my boats and has nice prices to keep folks on the other end happy. Yes, they have their own trucks…Agreed on feet to enable fork lift … also rope loops on ends to facilitate lifting /dragging. Sorry man … hope this was not a different one than the one that just slid off your car.

If the driver is trying to leave
and they always are, I just tell him I’m signing this “subject to Count and Inspection” that usually slows them down but not always. If something is damaged you can call the terminal and tell them to make a note that the receipt was signed Subject to Inspection and that the driver would not wait.

FA Trucks? One airoplane?
The trucks must be very localized then. I have never seen one and I have traveled a LOT in ny life. The trucks I have seen FA freight come off from were never theirs.

Someone here said that FA had ONE airoplane.

FA sounds more like a hobby that a serious business. Just had to say it, the devil madde me. ;^)



Who arranged the shipping?
If the shipping was handled by the retailer, then your complaint is with them. They shipped you defective product. How it became defective before it arrived on your doorstep isn’t your problem to figure out.

How did you pay for it? With a credit card? Put a stop payment on that transaction. Nothing gets their attention like a kick in the wallet.

Other suggestions here are good too.

hate to say this but
Convincing them that you could have “concealed damage” on a canoe is likely going to be difficult.

There are plenty of items that an insurer would consider subject to “concealed damage.” A canoe however, is probably not one of them.

I can only imagine how sick you must feel over this.

Not the same boat…
This is not the same boat that just slid off my car. I guess you guys saw that post too. That boat ended up being fine.

The one that Forward Air messed happened several months ago but I just never completed the claims process, got an estimate, etc. until about two months ago.

The shipper (someone here on the forums as I found the boat here on the classified page) helped me with the claim. He is the one who actually reported it to ForwardAir once I notified him of the damage I found.

The damage consisted of a slintered spot of fiberlass on the recessed edge surrounding the forward cockpit rim, and the inside rim itself which you can’t see unless you take off the cover. This is a spot where it can be hard to see at first, plus the boat was covered with lots of packing debris / stryrofoam “dust” (as the front end by the compass had been padded) that was sticking to the boat when I unpacked it. I might have just missed it. There also were small spider cracks in the gelcoat radiating from this spot. Looks like they must have dropped something on it.

I noticed the crack the first time I went to use the boat. I set the boat on the beach and went to check the hatch covers when I saw it. This was a few days after I picked it up. It had sat in my garage in the meantime.

It is also possible that the boat had a small / not visible crack that splintered and became more noticeable once I tightened my bow line down on my roof rack. This may also explain why I did not initially see it. I don’t know though, I am only guessing.

All I know is that I noticed the damage when I went to use the boat, but not at pickup at the terminal (when I was in a rush to get the boat back home and get on the road to beat the busy SF traffic and hopefully get home in 2 hours).


What to do next
I suggest that you call the consumer protection division of your state Attorney General’s office, then write the AG a letter inaccordance with their instructions, put the name of the air delivery service in a cc: at the bottom of the letter, and send a copy of that letter to the office of the CEO of the air delivery service. That should get some attention. Good luck.

Forward Air stuff
Notes on Forward Air for considerable experience dealing with them:

  1. Customer service is nonexistant. They are rude and unprofessional. Occasionally you can get someone at one of their local offices to act like a human being but that’s the exception.

  2. They are not, contrary to their name and popular belief, an air freight company. They are a trucking company as was told to me by one of their employees.

  3. They will pay claims, but they try to make it as arduous a process as possible in the hope that you’ll give up and go away. Document EVERYTHING including details of phone conversations, e-mails etc. Whenever possible, back up phone conversations with letters. Serving the local office with a small claims summons may speed things along.

    I know several people who did not inspect their packages before signing off and then were later able to get a settlement from FA but it isn’t easy.

    For what it’s worth, I think they used to be better for both not damaging cargo and for service but in the last several years, they have become very bad. I won’t do business with them anymore.

…I shipped an 18’ glass boat from Boston to Denver with them with no problems. It was bubble wrapped, then pallet wrapped with heavy cardboard protecting the bow and stern. That was a couple of year ago.