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Common Freight Accessorial Charges

When you're shipping freight, it's not unusual for the invoiced amount to be greater than the price originally quoted by a carrier. More often than not, the extra charges are to cover carrier accessorial fees for services or equipment needed to complete a delivery. Accessorial charges vary with every carrier and are typically applied to an invoice after the shipment is made. This can make it difficult to effectively budget for freight services.

This list of accessorial fees includes the most common ones assessed on freight shipments. Understanding the different charges can help you know what to expect for some shipments and what to avoid for others. Plus, we've provided some tips on how you might work around accessorial fees on future shipments.

Additional stops: If a shipment is made up of multiple pieces that has numerous drop-off sites, a fee is incurred to cover the time and extra work required to verify each partial load at each stop.

Advanced notification: This charge is assessed when the driver is required to contact the consignee before delivering the cargo.

After-hours delivery: When a driver must deliver a shipment outside of normal operating hours, the shipper is charged a fee to cover the inefficiencies and inconvenience of finding the consignee, locating where to deliver the shipment, and so on.

Detention: Extended delays at the pickup and/or drop-off loading dock will incur charges for the driver's wait time and inconvenience. If a delay is anticipated, it may be possible to negotiate a longer allotment time with the carrier to avoid or reduce the accessorial fee.

Diversion miles: If a driver is asked to transport the cargo to another location, the shipper is charged for the fuel, lost time and inconvenience.

Fuel surcharge: Determined by the weekly National U.S. Average on Highway Diesel Fuel Price report, the surcharge covers fluctuating fuel prices. This helps the carrier from losing out if fuel prices increase from when the shipment was originally scheduled to the actual delivery date.

Hazardous materials: The Department of Transportation requires all parties handling or transporting hazardous materials to be trained and certified. The hazardous materials fee helps cover the cost of this specialized service, including the added risk of handling the cargo and the time needed to properly document the shipment while it's in transit.

Inside delivery: When a driver goes beyond the front door or loading dock with a shipment, a white-glove fee will be assessed. The charge is for the extra time and effort needed to get the cargo inside, such as pushing a pallet jack up or down a curb, ramp or stairs, or down a driveway.

Layover: A charge is assessed if the driver must hold off until the following day to deliver or pick up a shipment. A layover can prohibit the driver from making another delivery, so the fee can be costly.

Lift gate service: If the pick-up and/or drop-off location doesn't have a loading dock, a lift gate may be required for loads over 100 lbs. If the driver brings a truck without a lift gate, the shipment must be rescheduled and a fee will be assessed to cover the cost of the delay. Letting the carrier know beforehand that a lift gate is needed will help ensure the proper equipment is brought at pickup.

Limited access: Shippers are assessed a limited access fee if the pickup or drop off location is difficult for the driver to locate or reach. The fee is also assessed if the driver needs to wait at delivery for a security inspection, find the consignee at drop off, or any other similar situation. A limited access fee is common for deliveries to construction sites, military bases, government facilities, hospitals, schools, prisons, small strip malls, convention centers, and so on. A limited access fee could be avoided by being specific about the location and delivery requirements when scheduling the shipment.

Lumper or load/unload: These are fees charged to the driver when a third-party service helps load the cargo at pickup and/or unload it at drop off. This is common at warehouses and grocery distributors. The carrier will charge the shipper for reimbursement of the paid fees.

Metro pickup and delivery: This fee compensates for the time and trouble the driver experiences when maneuvering in congested metro areas.

Oversize/overlength: As a general measurement, oversize shipments are loads that are more than 13.5 feet high, and overlength shipments are for loads exceeding 12 feet long. The oversize/overlength fee helps cover the permit cost assessed by each state the truck travels through, the price paid to escorts needed to accompany the truck, and the additional equipment used to transport the cargo.

Redelivery: If the recipient denies a shipment or isn't available to accept it and the driver must return later to the site, the shipper is charged for each attempt. This charge and the layover charge could be the most expensive of all accessorials since they inhibit the driver from making other deliveries.

Residential: A fee is charged for the challenges and extra time it takes for a driver to maneuver through residential areas for a pickup or drop off.

Reweigh and reclassification: When you create your bill of lading (BOL), you'll assign the LTL shipment a classification code based on its transportability — the level of difficulty for shipping the cargo. The carrier uses the code both for pricing and to lay out how the cargo should be stored in the truck. If the driver needs to reweigh the shipment and give it a different classification code when loading or maneuvering the cargo, you'll be charged a fee for lost efficiency. The best way to avoid a reweigh and reclassification fee is by diligently weighing the cargo and accurately completing the BOL.

Sort and/or segregate: These are fees assessed when the dock workers, lumpers and/or drivers are required to count and verify the pallets or crates received in a shipment.

Storage: If the carrier must store the shipment during delivery but was not informed beforehand, the shipper is charged for the hourly or daily storage cost. If this occurs because of a delayed delivery, a delay and/or redelivery charge may also be assessed. Note: storage and warehousing are different services.

Truck ordered, not used (TONU): If a shipment is cancelled after a pre-determined cutoff time, a fee is assessed to cover the carrier's cost of losing work.

Take action to minimize the surprise of freight accessorial fees. Worldwide Express can help.

The best remedy against accessorial fees is to fully communicate shipment details with your carrier and keep pristine records of your shipments:

  • Verify your shipment's weight and classification code. If you have multiple shipments, include the weight for each pallet in the total figure for added clarity.
  • Inform the carrier of special needs in advance so you're aware of accessorial needs before the shipment is processed. Include the charges you agreed upon on the BOL for validation and clarity.
  • Inquire if accessorials were necessary for your shipment. At the very least, you'll know what to expect. At best, you can ask the carrier to remove the charges and stop unnecessary services for future, similar shipments.
  • You can hire a third-party auditor to review accessorials charged by carriers to verify their validity and address unnecessary freight charges.

When you partner with Worldwide Express, your dedicated consultant will help you maneuver through the challenges that come with freight accessorial fees. Request a consultation to get started.

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