VILSECK, Germany -- Summer PCS is on. Here are a few rules to help make it a stress-free experience.

Rule Number 1: Make sure that you can read and understand the inventory the packers will ask you to sign when the packing is finished. The writing should be printed clearly and be dark enough to read (you will be receiving the carbon copy).

Your inventory is your receipt, so it should be easy to read. Ask the packers to explain anything on the inventory that you do not understand (rewrite it in your handwriting, if necessary, in the remarks/exception section near the bottom of the inventory).

At the top of the inventory you will see three symbols. The descriptive symbol, left side of the inventory, the exception symbols, center of the inventory, and the location symbols, the right side of the inventory. These three symbols are very important.

Descriptive symbols identify who packed the items, what the item is and a mechanical condition. Always make sure that the symbol CP (Carrier Packed) is written on the inventory.

Make sure that PBO (packed by owner) and DBO (disassembled by owner) do not appear on the inventory. The movers are there to pack and the customers are there to ensure the packing is done correctly.

Soldiers normally ship the OCIE or (what used to be called TA-50) in their goods. Make sure that the items are listed as PE (professional equipment). Some Soldiers have PB (professional books) or PP (professional papers), in their shipment. Make sure that these items are identified as such.

The exception symbols identify damages. This is how the packers show PED (pre-existing damage) and expound on them such as BE (bent), D (dented), G (gouged), L (loose), SC (scratched).

When the packers write this damage on the inventory, ask the packers to explain and show what damage is being written on the inventory. If you disagree with the damage being described, then note that in the remarks/exceptions section near the bottom of the inventory.

Be aware that sometimes the packers overstate the damage.

The location symbols are numbers and usually range from 1-19. These numbers identify the location of the damage being described. For example, 1 (arm), 4 (front), 7 (rear), 12 (edge).

When you see BR-2-4-5-3, this means broken, bottom front left corner. A good inventory shows what condition the items were in at the time of pickup.

Rule Number 2: Carefully read the inventory prepared by the packers before you sign. Just remember, when in doubt, write it out, before you sign on the solid line.

Do not argue with the packers. If you have a problem, call your transportation office at once.

Rule Number 3: By signing the inventory at the end of the pack out without taking exceptions, you are acknowledging your agreement that the inventory is a true reflection of what you tendered for shipment and its condition.

Remember, you, the shipper, are the person best suited to know what you shipped and the condition of the listed items. If these items are subsequently damaged it could affect the adjudicated amount of your claim award.

It is very important that your high value items, such as stereo components, televisions, cameras, video recorders, jewelry, comic books, baseball cards, are listed on the inventory. Failure to do so makes it difficult to prove that you actually gave the items to the carrier to be shipped.

CDs, DVDs and videotapes should be counted and the number entered on the inventory. Audio or video equipment must be identified by make, model number and serial number. Televisions must be identified by size, make, model number and serial number.

For questions pertaining to claim policies, contact claims personnel at the Rose Barracks Law Center, Building 245, or call DSN 476-2240, Civ. 09662-83-2240. On Tower Barracks, visit Building 106, or call DSN 475-8428/6540, Civ. 09641-83-8428/6540.

Editor's Note: Edward Pontoon is a claims examiner at the Rose Barracks Law Center in Vilseck, Germany.