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WILLIAM C. ADAMSON, Georgia, Chairman. THETUS W. SIMS, Tennessee.
JOHN F. CAREW, New York. WILLIAM A. CULLOP, Indiana.
ARTHUR G. DEWALT, Pennsylvania. FRANK E. DOREMUS, Michigan.
JOHN J. ESCH, Wisconsin.
RICHARD WAYNE PARKER, New Jersey. ALBEN W. BARKLEY, Kentucky.
JOHN A. STERLING, Illinois. SAM RAYBURN, Texas.
SAMUEL E. WINSLOW, Massachusetts. ANDREW J. MONTAGUE, Virginia.
JAMES S. PARKER, New York. PERL D, DECKER, Missouri.
HOWARD SUTHERLAND, West Virginia. CHARLES P. COADY, Maryland.
CHARLES H. DILLON, South Dakota.
WILLIS J. DAVIS, Clerk.
COMMITTEE ON INTERSTATE AND FOREIGN COMMERCE,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Tuesday, May 16, 1916. The committee met at 10 o'clock, Hon. William C. Adamson (chairman) presiding
The CHAIRMAN. I want to make the following correction in the hearings, which have been printed up to date: On page 9 of the volume of the hearings already printed the statement is made, “ The Pomerene bill came over here on the 22d of August, 1914.” It should be “1912."
The views of the minority, beginning on page 239, should have followed the Stevens bill ending at the bottom of page 231, as the minority report applied to that bill.
STATEMENT OF MR. GEORGE F. MEAD, POST-OFFICE BOX 2353,
The CHAIRMAN. Give your name, your address, and your occupation.
Mr. MEAD. George F. Mead, of Boston, representing the National League of Commission Merchants of the United States, and the Boston Fruit and Produce Exchange of Boston, Mass.
Mr. Chairman, I learned of this change in the Pomerene bill regarding sections 21 and 22 only a few days ago
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). We have not made any change in it.
The CHAIRMAN. There were two witnesses who made an agreement about it; but this committee is not bound by their agreement. We accept their views for what they are worth, and we will accept yours in the same way;
Mr. MEAD. I desire, in behalf of the organizations which I represent, to protest against any change in section 21, with reference to the shipper's load and count. We feel that that measure has been fully investigated; many hearings have been held and a great many shippers from different sections of the country have been here, and they have been very unanimous in their desire that the shipper's loadand-count provision should stand as it is in the Pomerene bill as it came from the Senate.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, you want to make it compulsory upon the carrier, when the shippers request it, to go and count and certify to what there is in the shipment ?
Mr. MEAD. Yes, sir. We feel that that provision as it stands now in the Pomerene bill is a reasonable one and fair not only to the
railroads but also to the shippers; that when a reasonable opportunity is given the railroads and when a shipper makes the request in writing at a station where an agency is maintained, we feel that that is a fair proposition. I have in mind, for instance, a large station of the Pennsylvania road in Virginia which is the headquarters of perhaps the largest or at least one of the largest shipping organizations in this country. I think nearly every carload of freight, certainly about every carload that comes to my house, is stamped from that station - shipper's load and count," notwithstanding the fact there is an opportunity to inspect and to count and to know the contents of each car. We receive very few bills of lading which have not that notation upon them, and inasmuch as the Senate has unanimously passed this bill two or three different times, beginning in 1912, and now
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). We do not base any action on the number of times the Senate does a thing. I want to ask you this question and I think your answer will weigh a great deal more with us than what the Senate does or does not: Do you favor forcing the carriers to count or weigh and to certify exactly what there is in a shipment, because it facilitates transportation and makes it more certain or because it facilities the banking of that bill of lading?
Mr. Mead. I think they should do that in order to facilitate transportation and the banking of the bill of lading and to make it fair in settling damage claims. That is where our chief difficulty comes in. They take advantage of the notation “shipper's load and count and claim they are not liable for the losses incurred.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not think they ought to wait until the goods are received at the other end of the line before estimating what the weight or the number of packages is?
Mr. MEAD. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand the way they do now is to use the words " said to contain so-and-so," and when the goods get to the end of the line if they are short, they then verify the bill of lading. You want to make them do that at the initial point?
Mr. MEAD. Yes, sir; under the conditions prescribed in section 21 of the bill. I think that is fair to the railroad and also fair to the shipper. I was not sure of being here to-day and I want to offer this telegram from the Boston Fruit and Produce Exchange:
Boston Fruit and Produce Exchange protests very vigorously against elimination of section 21 from Pomerene bill, believing that section regarding shipper's load and count just and fair to all interests.
Mr. James also asked me to present, to go into the records this morning, a telegram from the New Orleans clearing house:
New Orleans ring House Association has considered and is opposed to proposel amendment of section 21 of Pomerene Act with reference to bills of lading. Clearing house believes that the suggested added provision about shipper's weight and count will in effect invalidate the objects of the measure regarded as one of first importance to commercial interests.
We feel that this provision as it came from the Senate and is now in the Pomerene bill is a fair and just proposition. The loading by the shipper, of course, helps the railroads and saves them expense, and in carload freight the receiver unloads the freight at the receiving end, thus saving the railroads expense both in the loading and unloading of the car.
We have been over all this ground and the records have our l'easons very fully set forth in previous hearings so that extended testimony here would simply be cumulative.
Mr. Esch. To what extent have you trouble in adjusting claims?
Mr. MEAD. The railroads take refuge behind that notation on the bill of lading that they are not liable because the bill of lading contains the notation "shipper's load and count.”
Mr. Esch. In your own experience you say you do not get much carload freight?
Mr. MEAD. We do not get so much bulk freight. We get a great deal of carload freight, mostly packages.
Mr. Esch. In your own experience, what is the extent of your difficulty in adjusting claims with the railroad companies?
Mr. Mead. You mean what proportion of the claims would be rejected on account of that notation?
Mr. Esch. Yes; and how many claims do you have? What relation do your claims bear to the total amount of shipments per year or per month?
Mr. MEAD. That would be difficult for me to indicate. As I remember, the letters coming back from the railroads in regard to claims, in almost all cases they set up that defense when bill of lding reads "shipper's load and count.”
Mr. Esch. What is the character of your largest shipments?
Mr. Esch. Such claims are more prevalent in that character of shipment than almost any other.
Mr. MEAD. You mean
Mr. Esch (interposing). I mean more claims arise out of the shipments of produce, perishable goods
Mr. Mead (interposing). Yes; we have a good many claims on account of the perishable nature of the goods we handle,
Mr. Esch. Are not a good portion of those claims due, for instance, for breakage?
Mr. MEAD. No; we have very little breakage.
Mr. Esch. The breakage would exist whether you had shipper's load and count or not?
Mr. Mead. Yes, sir; but we have no difficulty in that respect.
Mr. Mead. Shortage, very largely; also goods arriving in poor condition. Goods arrive in bad condition with the packages broken, and there are many shortages.
Mr. Esch. That condition with reference to packages being broken would not be changed at all by this bill!
Mr. MEAD. No, sir.
Mr. STEPHENS. Not unless there was some loss out of the packages; that is, unless they were broken and some of it stolen.
Mr. MEAD. We only take them into consideration when the breakage means a damage and a loss.
Mr. STEPHENS. That would not be affected by the load and count.
Mr. MEAD. No. It might be affected by improper loading or something of that kind.
Mr. Esch. Would the character or quality of the goods you receive be affected by this bill?
Mr. MEAD. The quality?