How to Avoid Unexpected Freight Shipping Fees?

If you've shipped freight a few times, you're probably well aware of surprise accessorial charges that made your bill higher than expected. You may also recall feeling shocked and frustrated by the alarming amount of those extra charges from the carrier. Naturally, no one wants to be charged more than the price they were quoted for a service. To save time and money, you can make some basic changes in the way you process your shipping orders to avoid many common accessorial fees. Below are some tips on steps you can take to keep your shipping costs under control.

What are freight accessorial services?

Freight accessorials are any activities the carrier must perform beyond transporting your freight from the pickup point to its final destination. Accessorials can include the use of a liftgate, reclassification and reweigh charges, residential delivery or other special services. Freight accessorial fees are added to the shipping invoice either upfront or at the time of billing.

Common Freight Accessorials

Here are some basic examples of accessorial charges in FTL and LTL shipping:

  • Additional stops: Shipments involving multiple stops are common and can sometimes not go according to plan. Carriers often add a fee for potential delays between stops.
  • Freight detention: Detention fees may accumulate if a shipment is delayed at the initial or final destination, exceeding the time planned for potential delays.
  • Fuel surcharge: Determined by the weekly National U.S. Average on Highway Diesel Fuel Price report, the surcharge covers fluctuating fuel prices.
  • Inside delivery: Fees assessed whenever a driver goes beyond the front door or loading dock with a shipment an additional fee will be assessed. The charge is for extra time and effort to get the cargo inside.
  • Layover or redelivery: If freight does not arrive at its final destination or is not picked up during its scheduled window, it causes a layover or redelivery, triggering additional fees.
  • Liftgate: Not all trucks are equipped with a liftgate. So, if one is needed but was not requested in advance, fees for redelivery, delays and other unexpected activities are charged.
  • Limited access: A fee may be assessed for limited access if the pickup or drop off location is difficult for the driver to reach or locate. This fee could also be assessed if the driver is required to wait for security inspection or the consignee at the drop off location.
  • Reclassification: Freight is classed based on its value, length, height, weight, density, handling difficulty, and liability level. If not correctly classed, significant fees are charged.
  • Sorting and segregating: If freight has to be moved from one pallet to another, a fee for re-palletizing is charged.
  • Truck ordered but not used (TONU): If a truck is ordered (usually as part of a contract) but not used by the agreed cut-off time, a charge may be added.

How can you avoid freight accessorials?

In less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping, most unexpected fees occur due to incomplete freight preparation or incorrect guesswork  in the bill of lading (BOL). To avoid accessorial charges, do not rely on estimating freight weight, dimensions and other key pricing factors.

Here is a checklist of items for consideration  to avoid additional charges on your shipments:

  • Accurate BOL: The BOL contains all the carrier's details to process and invoice your shipment. Be sure that the destination, dimensions, freight class and other information are complete and accurate on the BOL. Ensure that any special handling or other unique instructions, like liftgate requests, are on the BOL.
  • Correct classification: LTL carriers inspect freight and charge a steep fee for reclassifying shipments. If you don't know which freight class your shipment is in, ask the carrier's customer service team to guide you through the classification process.
  • Knowledgeable employees: Many avoidable charges are incurred due to employees' lack of training on properly preparing freight, filling out BOLs and preparing other important documentation. So, spending time educating your team on ways to help prevent accessorial fees can save you time and money in the long run.
  • Working with a 3PL: You are unlikely to prevent all possible accessorial fees. To avoid as many as possible, use the TMS and other self-service tools provided by your freight service. These resources make it easy to manage all the necessary details of your shipment and ensure it is in full regulatory compliance.
  • Plan your pickup/delivery dates: There's a storage charge if your freight must be held until a specified date or gets delayed en route. To avoid these costs, plan your pickup and delivery dates to eliminate large time gaps. Get help from your carrier to determine the most practical logistics for your needs.
  • Avoid oversized freight: If your shipment is 12 feet long or longer, you will be charged an extra fee. You can avoid oversize charges by dividing your freight into several smaller shipments. If it's not possible to break up the shipment, you can expect to incur the fee.

Minimizing Additional Shipping Charges

The above list contains just a sample of the most common causes of accessorial fees. To avoid these fees, ensure that you are carefully reading all of the terms of the proposed contract before you agree to ship with a carrier. Look carefully for any additional fees that might apply to your freight.

Ask the carrier's representative if there are other frequently charged fees you should be aware of. Focus on completing all BOLs thoroughly and accurately.

Diligently gathering all of the information you need will also help you avoid excessive shipping fees. If you're uncertain about any portion or actionable items regarding your freight shipment, ask your carrier's customer service specialists for more information and clarification.

Unishippers: The 3PL for The Best Value in Shipping

Unishippers is one of the nation's largest, oldest non-asset 3PL providing small to mid-sized businesses the best value for their shipping dollar. With a wide range of freight shipping services (including FTL, LTL and international) and the combined buying power of our 108,000+ customers, you can rest assured that we'll have an affordable solution for your freight shipping.

For a freight quote or information about 3PL services for your business, call Unishippers at 1-800-999-8721!

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