When you're shipping furniture, unexpected problems and complications can arise at any step of the moving process, leading to unforeseen delays and late deliveries. Shipping delays are one of the most frustrating aspects of moving long-distance—if you're trying to settle in at your new location but you don’t have any furniture, you’re not going to feel very much at home. In some cases, such as inclement weather, delays are necessary to safeguard your belongings. In others, shipping delays can also add costs and may even increase the risk of damage, either from in-transit damage or exposure to harsh weather conditions.
Here are 7 common causes of delays you may encounter when shipping furniture:
1. Shipper scheduling delays
Furniture, though bulky, comes nowhere near filling an entire truck. This means that your items will ship via LTL freight, and will share space with cargo being shipped by other customers. LTL freight can help save you money, but because your furniture shares space on the truck with other shipments, your cargo will not move immediately and directly to its destination. Instead, your load may have to wait—possibly a long time—while the shipper arranges for other loads to be picked up. Depending on the size of the shipper’s customer base and level of business activity, rounding out a full truck could take a matter of days or even weeks.
2. Terminal consolidation
Some shippers will transfer your furniture pickup to a central shipping terminal where it will wait to be consolidated with other loads going to nearby locations. This creates delays similar to the first situation outlined above—your furniture may sit on the terminal floor for a considerable time before it is ready to be routed to its final destination. T
his type of delay is more common for furniture shipments that are traveling a long distance, or when being shipped to a location outside the shipper’s usual delivery area. For this reason, the ideal furniture shipping solution typically includes selecting a shipper that has established business in both your pickup and delivery areas. The more volume of business the shipper has, the faster it will be able to fill a truck and get your items on their way.
3. Mechanical breakdowns
Some shippers go the extra mile to make sure their vehicles are safe and in top working order, but others cut corners (pun intended). Common breakdowns include flat tires, transmission problems, fluid leaks, slipping gears, faulty brakes, and steering issues.
It pays to vet shippers carefully because mechanical breakdowns on the road will almost certainly lead to delivery delays. A mechanical problem on the road can cause a delay of hours or days. In addition, certain types of problems, such as a flat tire, might cause violent movement to the trailer, exposing your furniture to damage and other serious potential consequences.
Related to—and sometimes the cause of—mechanical breakdowns are accidents on the road. No matter what the cause—mechanical issues, driver error, weather—an accident will cause delays of hours, days, or even longer, depending on the severity of the incident and the shipper’s recovery options. If the truck shipping your furniture is completely disabled, the shipper may have backup trucks available to transfer your load and complete the delivery.
When vetting shippers, it is prudent to ask what their procedures are for accident and emergency response. A top-performance shipper will have a documented, clear set of procedures for handling the unexpected.
Just about anyone who has flown on a commercial airplane (or picked up someone from the airport) understands how weather conditions can affect timetables. In short, bad weather throws timetables out the window, including your furniture delivery schedule. Certain parts of the country are especially vulnerable to catastrophic weather events such as forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
Some types of events, such as earthquakes, are difficult or impossible to predict, and can only be dealt with after they occur. Other events, such as hurricanes, can be anticipated to some extent, so to prevent unexpected delays, take note of weather conditions along your furniture’s shipping route.
Like weather events, some traffic delays can be anticipated and others cannot. Regardless, traffic backups can cause delivery delays of hours or longer. If delivery of your furniture encounters a relatively short traffic delay en route to a consolidation terminal (as discussed earlier), this seemingly minor delay could lead to a much longer one if your furniture arrives too late to be loaded on an outgoing trailer.
Traffic issues highlight another advantage of working with a shipper familiar with the geography your furniture shipment will be covering. They will know the likely areas of traffic congestion, what time of day congestion occurs, and the best alternate routes to avoid getting tied up. When your shipment is traveling through major urban areas, this local knowledge can make the difference between an on-time delivery and one that shows up at 4 in the morning.
7. Carrier violations
Another compelling reason to select a high-caliber shipper is to avoid delays called by carrier safety or maintenance violations. Common infractions that can tie up your delivery truck include:
- Inoperative headlights, taillights and turn signals
- Other light and reflector problems
- Inadequate tire tread
- Oil leaks
- Carrying too much weight
- Improper licensing
Once again, shippers with ethical business practices and experience along the route your furniture will be taken will make sure their vehicles are in top working order and will be familiar with state-specific regulatory requirements. Depending on the state, the nature of the violation, and the history of violations relating to the driver, vehicle, and/or company, a safety or maintenance issue could take anywhere from hours or days to resolve. In the meantime, your furniture will be sitting idly by, collecting dust, and possibly setting you up for increased charges.
Don’t risk potential problems when you're shipping furniture. TSI has over three decades of experience in the shipping industry and offers white-glove service (at very low rates) to make sure your furniture arrives at its destination undamaged and on time. With everything you have to take care of during a move, worrying about shipping delays is not something you should have to deal with. Please contact us now for an estimate on your shipping requirements.