Deadruns: What are they and how can I prevent them?
Feb 2024

Deadruns: What are they and how can I prevent them?

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Deadruns: Many people purchasing a container may not know what exactly this is. Throughout this blog post there will be a discussion on what Deadruns are. How they are determined, and why they are often disputed. This blog will discussion all aspects of Deadruns and why they are important to be educated on why they simply cost so much.


Explanation of Deadruns

Delivery of the shipping containers is arguably the most important part of selling used/ new sea cans. Shipping containers are large, oversized storage solutions meaning they require specific drivers and trucks from them to be delivered correctly.

Deadruns are referred within the industry to as a failed customer pick up or delivery, resulting in wasted time for the driver and the company selling the container.

Deadruns are common but often disputed between the client and seller. In many cases clients can face dead run charges up to 1.75% of the original delivery cost. There are simple ways to prevent Deadruns and those will be what we will be discussing throughout this blog post.


How do Deadruns Occur?

Deadruns can occur in numerous ways. Ways in which Deadruns commonly occur are no site contact at the drop off location, failure to have the site cleared, bad condition so on and so on. Deadruns are used because they provide an inconvenience to the delivery cycle and waste time thereby affecting the bottom line.



The best way to prevent Deadruns is to have constant communication between the client, delivery and Sigma Containers. If, communication channels are constantly open and all parties are agreeing to the same things in regards to delivery date and weather conditions there should not be any issues.

Issues typically occur when there is a significant lack of communication. When communication lapses occur, this is where dead run charges occur. For example, if there no site contact at the drop site when the container is being dropped off dead run charges can occur. Dead runs are easily avoidable with the right communication, they are preventable.


Who determines a Dead Run Charge?

Deadruns charges are determined in numerous ways. Often Deadruns are determined, by the delivery company. As stated, before Deadruns can accumulate to 1.75% of the original delivery charge. Often customers are not happy when they received this charge and it becomes disputed. This charge is used to help retrieve lost time and money spent on a failed delivery.

The important thing to remember is that here at Sigma we will always let you know verbally and in written the policies that determine a dead run. Whenever we send a quote the possibility of a deadrun is always mentioned as a precaution to the customer.  Even when a customer is inquiring about a container,  a dead run charge is always explained and highlighted.

Once again to prevent deadrun charges we ask clients to allow up to 120ft of linear space to drop 40’ containers. We ask customers to have 60ft of linear space to drop a 20’ container. As well we ask customers to make sure the ground conditions are ideal for delivery. If there is the case that conditions are not ideal an alternative delivery date will be suggested.

Another huge factor that determines a dead run charge is same day cancellation. Especially if the driver is already on route to the customers location. It shouldn’t be hard to explain why there is a charge for this, since is both inconvenient.



Dead runs are cost and dilemma that everyone tries to avoid. While Deadruns are important to make sure that safety and communication is provide between the customer and the delivery team often times they are ignored.

Dead runs are in placed to keep customers accountable and thereby allow the drivers/ delivery team to operate a smooth container drop or pick up. To avoid dead runs please properly prepare your site for when a container is either being picked up or dropped off.  This includes making sure the ground conditions are ideal and for winter deliveries making sure the site is clear of ice and snow.