Many carriers "misrepresent" the arrival times of their trucks in an effort to make sure that the shipment is set up for clearance by the time they arrive at the border. Not only is it not nice to misreport arrival times to your customs broker, it really does not help your cause.
"If my truck is due Sunday at noon, I'll tell the customs broker that it's due Saturday at noon. That way I know for sure that my load will be set up by the time I arrive".
In theory, this sounds like a great plan. In reality, it causes the whole system to break down and results in many delays. The most common time for this to occur is on Friday afternoons. Every carrier wants to make sure that all of their shipments are set up to clear before they leave for the day so they mis-report the arrival times. This creates a trickle-down effect that causes problems for customs brokers, carriers and even the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
Most customs brokers have a "triage" system for handling PARS clearance requests. When documents are received they are placed in priority sequence based on arrival times. This works great until 20 carriers all say they will be there at 8:00 PM Friday. The customs broker has no way to know if these times are valid or not and works furiously to get all of these set up by the stated arrival time. Invariably, some shipments will not be set up in time. If you are one of the people who has mis-reported your arrival time, no big deal. However, if you are one of the honest ones and arrive on schedule, you could find that your shipment is not set up yet because the customs broker was busy setting up shipments that are not due for hours, or possibly days.
With the mandatory implementation date for ACI eManifest looming, carriers will need to review how they report arrival times. One of the requirements for reporting electronic pre-arrival info is the inclusion of an "accurate" arrival time. While we are not entirely sure how CBSA plans to deal with mis-reported arrival times, one of the proposed pre-arrival AMPS penalties is for "failing to provide true, accurate and complete information".
Regardless of how ACI eManifest affects the clearance process, it just makes good sense to report your arrival times accurately. Most customs brokers offer the ability to go onto their website to confirm that a shipment has been set up. See an example of Pacific Customs Brokers PARS Lookup and SCN Lookup. Pacific Customs Brokers also offers a free iPhone app, Border Pro iPhone App for Carriers, that allows drivers and dispatchers to check PARS (shipments to Canada) and/or SCN (shipments to the USA) entries while in-transit at any time with an option of sending you an email or text message to alert you of your shipment status.
If you find that you are accurately reporting arrival times and that your shipments are consistently not set up when you arrive at the border, you should take it up with the customs broker(s) in question. Carriers and customs brokers both work towards a common goal - getting the shipment to the customer as quickly and efficiently as possible. Open, honest communication can only help to make that goal more attainable.