What is an Accessorial Charge

The most avoidable reason for accessorial charges on less-than-truckload (LTL) freight is the inaccuracy of information included with a shipment and the subsequent need for freight reclassification.

Too often, freight brokers ask too few questions and send carriers incomplete order details. And when a carrier suspects that the weight or classification of your freight is inaccurate, they will reweigh and remeasure the shipment. If the carrier needs to reclass or adjust for larger dimensions or weight, they can charge an added fee.

It is important to enter accurate weights and descriptions, including National Motor Freight Commission (NMFC) item numbers, to a bill of lading (BOL).

Investing in the equipment and tools necessary to accurately measure dimensions and weight of shipments can seem arbitrary to new brands who are shipping irregular or small quantities. But estimating dimensions can easily result in incorrect calculations and significant accessorial charges.

The NMFC has 18 different classifications for freight to help determine proper handling and costs. When a shipper chooses to not include a NMFC class code on BOL, that is an immediate red flag for carriers. Without the pre-classification, they will automatically re-measure and re-weigh a shipment. This can result in extra time, resources, and money for the carrier, and often added charges for a shipper.

How to Avoid Accessorial Charges

Some accessorial charges can be considered unavoidable and are based on the nature of an order. For example, if an order is oversized, requires residential pickup or delivery, has hazardous materials, or includes a location that has limited access or is inside a building, the cost will be higher than other orders of the same size and distance that do not require the extra work or precautions.

Yet, as this post points out, LTL accessorial charges related to freight classification or misinformation are in fact preventable.

Avoiding LTL Fees and Accessorial Charges

To avoid these issues, work with a 3PL that is familiar with LTL shipments and knows what questions to ask and information to provide carriers. Clarification of details, proper classification, and extra communication can help avoid added charges and cut thousands from a shipper’s annual spend.

3PLs that are experienced with grocery and retail shipments will also know delivery requirements of the consignee. Many receivers have preferred LTL carriers and drop trailer schedules for their facilities. Having familiarity with retailer and distributor preferences is critical when it comes to avoiding added fees. A knowledgeable retail 3PL can help maintain compliance and facilitate seamless delivery. This in turn will prevent unplanned accessorial charges and service issues.

Additionally, don’t estimate shipment weights and dimensions. LTL carriers have laser technologies available that can determine exact measurements and weights. Inaccurate or incomplete information will not go undetected. Instead, it will only cause extra work for a carrier, damage relationships, and potentially cost shippers more money in the long run.

And provide special instructions upfront. Similar to the extra work required with reweighting and reclassing, unknown variables that result in the use of unexpected equipment or labor will result in accessorial charges.

LTL Shipment Checklist: Logistics Details to Include

Be sure to provide the following information with every LTL shipment. These details will enable a service provider to accurately quote an order and prevent against the addition of accessorial charges.

  • Shipment dimensions, on the pallet (L x W x H)
  • Total weight of the shipment, on the pallet
  • Total number of pallets
  • Origin address and zip code
  • Delivery address and zip code
  • Whether the pallets can be stacked, or if dunnage is necessary
  • Any packaging specifications
  • Any handling specifications
  • Any special instructions for locations or product
  • Type of goods being shipped
  • Freight class

Looking to work with a logistics service provider that can help you prevent against unplanned charges? Reach out to Zipline Logistics today for a quote.

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