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Whether you own a business or you’re just an individual looking to ship freight, it’s in your best interest to avoid price adjustments and extra freight charges. No one needs to tell you why it’s a bad idea to lose money unnecessarily, and when it comes to freight shipping there are many ways it can happen.
Often, extra charges are applied because of mistakes by the shipper; they overlook a key detail, or perhaps miscalculate the weight of a certain package. However, with equal frequency, it comes down to an innocent but costly ignorance of shipping policies. In these cases, rates can shoot up without warning and end up costing the shipper a larger than expected sum.
The best way to avoid these kinds of charges is to educate yourself about the various policies that freight carriers abide by. It’s also helpful to form a little mental (or physical!) checklist that you can quickly scan before preparing anything to be shipped by truck. Over the long haul, you’ll be grateful that you took these precautions.
Ensure that you’ve correctly measured your shipment
We’ll get into it soon, but one of the keys to avoiding extra freight charges is receiving a valid fixed cost quote. However, before you reach that step there’s a vital part of the shipping process that must come first.
- Whenever you’re about to ship something by truck, it’s critically important that you’ve correctly measured your cargo load. That means measuring all of its dimensions, including the length, width, and height, and then making sure you’ve correctly determined its weight.
- These dimensions help carriers determine how much space your cargo will take up. They will then assign a truck according to these figures.
Regardless of whether you’ve decided to ship less-than truckload (LTL), in which your load shares truck space with another, or full truckload (TL), in which your load is the exclusive delivery to a given truck, ensuring that you’ve recorded your dimensions correctly helps the carrier figure out how to best manage your load. Failure to do so will result in additional fees, a reweigh, and a potential re-classing fee.
Make sure you receive fixed cost quotes
This is where it becomes important that you’ve correctly reported the weight and dimensions of your load. When you’re preparing to ship, make sure that the carrier has furnished terms that outline all of the potential fees related to the shipment and has a correct record of what you’re going to ship. If you fail to receive these fixed cost quotes, or if you receive an inaccurate record, you might end up paying significantly higher charges than you anticipated.
- If the fixed cost quote you receive is somehow inaccurate, it’s possible that you will be overcharged when invoices are filled out. This will almost never be intentional, but it’s important that when you receive an invoice you think is incorrect, you must back up your theory with hard proof.
- Referring to a phone call that you had with a representative that might not have been recorded will not make for a convincing case. Similarly, referring to notes that you may have about the conversation does not constitute valid proof.
Do your due diligence and make sure that all the paperwork you receive is accurate. In the unlikely event that there are mistakes on the carrier’s end, you will be able to correct their records and make your case.
Record specific delivery and pickup dates
In the same way that you want to have accurate fixed cost quotes, you also want to have accurate delivery and pickup dates. It’s crucial that you have these times in writing, just in case the carrier misses the appointment on either end.
- When you pay for shipment, the payment goes beyond the space that you’re guaranteed on the truck. You’re paying for timeliness, and if you’re a business owner you know how important it is to get your shipment delivered when promised.
- If you fail to record specific dates for pickup and delivery and have them in writing, it’s possible that the carrier will miss them, and you will be paying for a service that was not rendered.
Often, delays occur without the carrier intending them to. Inclement weather can strike at any time and road collisions can shut down entire freeways. Still, it’s important to have official documents that attest to the delivery and pickup dates.
Don’t ignore special services
If you’re ordering a shipment, consider if it requires any special treatment. In almost all cases, if you fail to report something of this nature, the carrier will add a fee much higher than the agreed-upon rate. However, following this advice will do more than save you extra freight charges, it will potentially keep your shipment from unnecessary harm.
- The most common special services include heating, tailgate, appointment pick-up, and special handling of dangerous goods. Consider what you’re going to ship and if you think you’re going to need any of these services be sure to alert the carrier of them before your shipment is loaded onto the truck.
- You will save yourself the headache of having to pay fees later, but also if your shipment does require these services and fails to receive them it’s possible that you will lose important goods during transit.
Wrap your package correctly
If you fail to package your load in the correct fashion you risk damaging not only your freight but also others’ goods being transported within the truck, especially if it’s an LTL shipment. This can potentially lead to a costly and avoidable claims process.
- If you’ve used plastic wrap to secure your shipment, make sure that it completely covers the package and will prevent any items from slipping out or dislodging.
- If you’re unsure how to properly wrap your shipment, either run an internet search or consult with the carrier for ways to ensure maximum security for both your goods and that of others who may be sharing the same truck.
Be aware of customs paperwork
If you’ve ever traveled to another country, you know what it’s like to declare something at customs. Countries treat items differently for myriad reasons, but the bottom line is that governments want to know what goods are currently in their country.
- If you’re scheduling a shipment that will inevitably cross a border, it’s important that you fill out the appropriate paperwork beforehand to ensure that your shipment isn’t delayed and costs you extra charges.
- All freight that travels across borders will be inspected by customs and they will hold your shipment if it isn’t properly documented. Unless you’re traveling with the shipment, you won’t be there to explain it.
If you don’t know how to access this paperwork, get in touch with your carrier and they will be able to walk you through the process.
Make sure fuel charges and taxes are accounted for
While this advice relates to ensuring an accurate fixed cost quote, it’s important enough to deserve its own category. When you receive your fixed cost quote, scan the list of items and check for fuel surcharges. Both the fuel and relevant taxes are sometimes not included on the list, and when you receive your invoice after the shipment has been delivered the price will be significantly higher than you anticipated. Make sure you have this squared away before your shipment leaves your possession.
Temperature control for perishable items
If you’re shipping items that require some kind of temperature control, make sure that the carrier is aware of your needs beforehand. In this case, the extra charges that will rack up are not going to come from the carrier per se, but will most likely be incurred when your customer receives goods that have either been frozen unnecessarily or thawed when they should have remained frozen.
- If you are shipping goods that are perishable, should not freeze, or must be frozen, make sure that the carrier is aware of this ahead of time so that they can make proper arrangements.
- Don’t simply package your shipment and hope for the best. If the truck is going to travel through a cold climate in the wintertime, chances are that your goods will become frozen during transit.
- As with all special requests, make sure that these services are properly reported in the quote that is provided to you before the shipment leaves.
Don’t make the carrier wait request a lift-gate
This is perhaps the most obvious tip on this list, but it’s important to make sure that shippers keep it in mind. Time management is not everyone’s forte, but when it comes to shipping it can be a costly flaw. There are multiple ways that failing to have your shipment prepared at the right time can lead to extra charges.
- If you’ve scheduled your pickup for Monday at 11:00 a.m., but won’t be ready to receive until 11:30 a.m., you’ll be charged for the time the carrier has to wait around for you to get your shipment in order. By failing to deliver the package at the appropriate time, you run the risk of messing up the carrier’s entire schedule.
- If you’re so unprepared that it will take an excessive amount of time for the carrier to receive your shipment, you will end up paying for a rescheduling fee and the carrier will have to send another truck at a later time.
- If you’re a business owner and the carrier is forced to reschedule a pickup time, the goods that you’ve promised your customer might not be delivered at the appropriate time, costing you even more money.
Request a lift-gate
Depending on the size and weight of your shipment, it might be difficult or impossible for the carrier to load it onto the truck without the assistance of a lift-gate. Lift-gates are attached to the back of the truck and act as a powerful tool for picking up heavy or oversize shipments. Not every truck comes with one as an added component, and failure to request one may force you to reschedule for another truck that has one attached.
- If you’re shipping from a location that doesn’t have a dock, make sure that your shipment doesn’t weigh in excess of 100 pounds or exceed 72 inches. If it does, the truck will be unable to load your shipment without the assistance of a lift-gate.
- If your shipment is going to require a lift-gate, be sure to check with the carrier and make sure that the truck your shipment is going to be carried on has one attached to the back end.
Make sure quotes are in your currency
Many of the carriers that operate in the United States are actually based in nearby countries. Because of this, it’s possible that the quotes you receive will not be in the currency you most frequently use. Because of varying exchange rates, it’s possible that the difference between the price you see on your quote and the price you have to pay will be significant.
- When you receive quotes prior to shipping your load, make sure that they are in your currency. The final bill can be significantly higher than you anticipated if you fail to catch that small but critical difference when confirming the cost of your shipment.
The tips covered in this list are the most common ways that price adjustments and extra freight charges are typically added to a final invoice. As you can tell, most of them are avoidable if:
- You are diligent with the way you’ve recorded the details of your shipment.
- You have used common sense when looking over your quotes.
- You have made sure you’ve alerted your carrier to any special treatment that your shipment requires.
By following these helpful tips, your bill will accurately reflect what you should be paying and you’ll soon have your shipment delivered in a timely and cost-effective fashion!
If you have any more questions about how to avoid price adjustments and extra freight charges, please contact us today!