Unexpected changes to a freight bill due to inadvertent accessorial charges can be frustrating. Understanding common freight accessorials and how to plan your shipments and budgets around them, will help you save on your LTL freight.
What are Accessorial Charges?
Accessorial charges are additional fees carriers charge for performing freight services that go beyond normal pickup and delivery. But accessorial charges are not all bad; in some cases, they are fees for value-added services. Carriers are most successful when they can efficiently transport freight from point to point. To keep line haul rates competitive for all shippers, carriers charge extra for services that take more time and resources to accomplish than a typical delivery.
Understanding Common Accessorial Charges
If you’re shipping a load that weighs more than 100 pounds and you don’t have the necessary equipment or tools to safely load or unload the truck, you may be required to use a liftgate. Charges associated with liftgates can be anywhere from $50 to $100, depending on the carrier. A liftgate fee may also apply to a load of less than 100 pounds, and with pick up or delivery at a residential location. Liftgates are typically common at job sites, residential areas or business locations without a dock.
Limited Access Locations
You may have a shipment that needs to be picked-up or delivered to a limited access area where you can’t maneuver a 53-foot or 48-foot trailer with a liftgate. In this scenario, we can arrange for a smaller truck to intercept the load and transfer the cargo at a terminal or another convenient location. When you know a delivery must be made to a limited access location, find out as much as you can about the site in advance, so you can coordinate appropriately and limit any delays or additional charges if the driver is not able to make the pick up or complete delivery.
Trade Shows and Convention Centers
Shipping trade show booths and related equipment to convention centers can offer its own set of challenges. Shipping to busy convention centers must be carefully planned as thousands of trucks can converge on a convention center as a show is being set up. To manage the chaos, trucks are assigned arrival and unloading times (appointments).
Some trade shows will also have “preferred” carriers it wants you to use, so verify whether a show is mandating specific carriers. Make sure your company’s booth number is on every crate, so show workers who accept your delivery know exactly where to place them on the show floor.
Construction Zone Deliveries
If you need to deliver to a construction zone, a carrier will assess you a fee of $50 or more. Construction zones can be tricky because sometimes there isn’t a physical address. The address could be in the middle of a road that’s under construction. When this is the case, make sure you deliver your shipment at the agreed upon time to ensure someone is at the construction site to accept the delivery.
When a shipper has bill of lading errors, omissions or changes that add additional costs to the shipment or slow transit times, accessorial charges are usually assessed. Entering inaccurate weight, NMFC or freight class to the bill of lading are some of the most common and avoidable examples of administrative errors that result in accessorial charges.
4 Tips to Reduce Accessorial Charges
Some accessorial charges, like additional equipment required to load and unload your shipment, can’t always be prevented. However, accessorials that occur due to bill of lading errors or omissions can be avoided, and doing so, will reduce your freight costs. Here are 4 tips for reducing accessorial charges:
1. Get a baseline for your overall accessorial spend
Perform a freight audit of your last 6-12 months of shipments to understand how often and the types of accessorial charges you’re incurring. Once you know the frequency and type, you can create a plan for reducing accessorial costs.
2. Educate employees on proper BOL creation & shipment preparation
Many administrative accessorial charges can be avoided. Bill of Lading accuracy is critical to reducing unnecessary fees. Educating employees on accessorials and the importance of properly weighing, measuring and classing shipments, along with accurately completing BOL documentation can help you save.
3. Understand NMFC and Freight Class
NMFC or National Motor Freight Classification is the standard for evaluating the transportation characteristics of a commodity based on its density, handling, stowability and liability. Every commodity can be grouped into one of 18 classes – from a low of class 50 to a high of class 500. Become familiar with the NMFC so you can accurately class your shipments and avoid reclassification charges.
4. Ask for Help
LTL shipping is complicated. Carriers can update or make changes to their accessorial fees at any time without notice. A 3PL like GlobalTranz has dedicated teams working with carriers to understand their latest tariffs, so shippers can focus on growing and operating their business. 3PLs live and breathe freight management every day and can help identify potential accessorial charges ahead of time and recommend options to help reduce costs.