LTL accessorial charges are pesky extra fees carriers add to shipping bills in order to account for additional services and resources needed to deliver a shipment. They can quickly add up and cause unnecessary increases in your overall transportation expenses. Knowing what they are and how they are calculated is the first step in taking back control. Bellow is a guide to better understand and reduce the most common accessorial charges.
It Pays to be a Shipper of Choice
Back in the day, carriers spread the extra costs across all shippers. The result was higher average prices for everyone. Today, thanks to improved technology and processes, carriers can hone in on low- and high-cost shippers. That is, they’re able to tell efficiency-generating shippers apart from efficiency-draining shippers, and reward accordingly. Thus, carrier-friendly shippers benefit from lower LTL shipping costs, while the rest face higher price tags thanks to accessorial charges. Bellow is a list of the most common accessorial charges and how to reduce their frequencies:
Common Charges Cheatsheet
Appointment, Notify, or Check Call
- Happens when: your BOL unnecessarily says that the carrier must call the receiver to schedule an appointment.
- What to do: If your consignee doesn’t require delivery appointments, make sure the BOL makes no reference to one. Go one step further by explicitly stating so on the BOL. For example: “Deliveries received between 9 and 4, no appoint required”. If you do need to make a delivery appointment, make sure the number to call is clearly indicated on the BOL.
- Happens when: the carrier attempts delivery and is turned away by the receiver
- What to do: If a delivery appointment is required, make sure the details are clearly stated on the BOL. Otherwise, explore processes for reducing carrier wait times for loading and unloading as most LTL carriers will depart or add a charge if wait times exceed 30 minutes.
Lift gate, Forklift, or pallet jack
- Happens when: the carrier needs an unexpected lift gate or another piece of specialized equipment to deliver your freight
- What to do: Research and communication are critical. Know what kind of dock your consignee has and what they need for delivery and inform your carrier ahead of time.
Reweight, shipment verification, or weight inspection
- Happens when: the actual weight exceeds the stated weight on the BOL by more than 15 pounds. Discrepancies will be easily spotted thanks to forklifts and other tools.
- What to do: have a properly maintained and calibrated scale ready to weigh shipments before departure and remember to add the pallet’s weight to the case weight and ensure that manufacturing changes are taken into account across your ERP system.
- Happens when: your freight is shipped under the wrong NMFC code / freight class
- What to do: Make sure both the weight and class are listed on the BOL, avoid writing generic terms such as “misc.” in the freight description, make sure the description is consistent with the weight, density, and class of the freight. If you are experiencing a lot of reclassification fees, consider shipping via freight consolidation.
Metro or remote area delivery/pickup
- Happens when: the driver needs extra time to get to the final destination. This can be due to traffic, tolls, and remote locations (charges like this will vary depending on the exact location being delivered to)
- What to do: Negotiate. High volume shippers shipping to a particular metro area can frequently negotiate away these LTL accessorial charges, especially if the shipper can offer more flexibility to carrier regarding delivery times.
- Happens when: the driver can’t find anyone to acknowledge and receive the shipment (usually happens due to staffing issues).
- What to do: Proactively notify receivers of the shipment or enlist a 3PL do handle tracking and notification and be extra vigilant during high-vacation periods.
Over Dimensional and/or excessive length
- Happens when: your freight is a strange shape that does not fit onto a conventional pallet and thus requires top loading by the driver
- What to do: Consider shipping methods other than LTL such as FTL. If your cargo doesn’t fit on a conventional pallet, review your carrier’s rules and contract to determine if the shipment falls into over-dimensional/excessive length categories.