LTL Shipping: Consequences of Misrepresenting Freight

Increasing freight rates have some shippers trying to avoid additional shipping costs by misrepresenting their shipments on their bills of lading (BOLs), but LTL shipping carriers take weights and inspections very seriously.

What’s the big deal?

A couple of pounds here or there won’t make a difference, right? Wrong. If shipment weights are inaccurate, trucks could be unknowingly overloaded, increasing the risk of an accident or damages when loads shift. In the event of a damage claim, a shipper that underreports weight or classification could find themselves with a reduced claim amount.

Why are more inspections a problem?

LTL shipping carriers are constantly on the lookout for shipments with BOL descriptions that don’t quite match up with their appearance. When the shipment is inspected and either the contents or the weight are wrong, the carrier will issue a reweigh or a reclass. You’ll be responsible for the higher charges anyhow — plus an additional fee for the inspection.

To avoid footing the bill on an additional inspection, it is critical to make sure the weight and class on the BOL are accurate. That means no guessing and no misrepresentation! Be sure to remember to:

  • Measure and weigh carefully: Do what you can to get measurements as accurate as possible, to the nearest inch. For irregularly-shaped objects, use the extreme points to get the length, width and height. Plus, don’t forget to include your pallet in the total weight.
  • Determine density: To calculate your shipment’s density, multiply length times width times height to get the cubic inches of your shipment. Divide the total cubic inches by 1,728 to get the cubic feet. Weigh your shipment, and then divide the weight (in pounds) by the cubic feet to get the density. This is your density or pounds per cubic foot. OR you can just use a freight density calculator — such as the one available on
  • Use proper classification: When classifying your shipment, be sure to select the classification that is the closest match to the intended use of the item (i.e., “furniture” instead of “lumber”). Reclassification of freight by the carrier can sometimes cost more than the original shipping rate, so it’s worth your time to understand this standard system used by all carriers. Have questions about NMFC classification? Learn how to class freight in four minutes by watching this video.

LTL shipping carriers are taking a hard line on shippers with repeated misrepresentations of their freight. Inspections add to the time to process freight, creating delays, increasing transit times, and wearing on relationships. Multiple issues could leave you looking for a new LTL shipping carrier.

Have more questions about LTL freight weight and size or classification? Unishippers can help! No question is too big or too small.

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