Accessorial charges are an unavoidable part of freight logistics. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make them any easier to predict or accommodate.
Many shippers find themselves staring at carrier invoices significantly higher than anticipated, bloated by accessorial fees that weren’t accounted for upfront. What’s more, accounting for the validity of these charges isn’t always easy. Accessorial charges pose several challenges when it comes to freight bill audits, making it even more important to attack them proactively to keep them from complicating invoices.
Any time freight transportation goes beyond standard pickup and delivery actions, accessorial charges are bound to follow. Shippers can expect to pay a premium for any level of additional service involved in a successful delivery — or, in some cases, an unsuccessful one. Whether it’s paying to have a driver wait at the dock or asking them to handle hazardous materials, these additional costs can easily creep into an invoice.
While it’s possible to predict some accessorials — such as a liftgate fee or an after-hours pickup charge — other fees are circumstantial. Nonetheless, there are opportunities to plan for the variables that contribute to them and avoid them before they cause headaches during the freight bill audit process.
Minimizing accessorial charges
Here’s a look at seven ways shippers and consignees can minimize the potential problems caused by unexpected accessorial charges:
- Verify freight details. BOL correction charges are among the most common accessorial fees levied — and also among the simplest to avoid. Check, double-check, and triple-check that BOL details are correct before the carrier collects the shipment.
- Double-check classifications. Misclassification of freight is another issue that can warrant hefty additional charges. Know with certainty the classification of your goods before they’re palleted and loaded, and make sure the BOL reflects that classification.
- Rely on dock scheduling (when possible). Dock scheduling can help reduce instances of excessive loading/unloading times or limited-access accessorial charges. The more shippers/consignees can do to guarantee an open dock, the better.
- Reallocate shipments (when possible). Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments are expensive, and overweight fees can be equally expensive. Avoid shipping at extreme ends of the scale by coordinating palleted freight and reducing dunnage for maximum transportation efficiency.
- Schedule to avoid layovers. Shippers must take a comprehensive look at the freight destination to ensure an efficient delivery — one that’s devoid of costly layovers. Look for direct routes, ensure delivery during regular hours, and verify staff on-site.
- Streamline freight contracting. The last thing any shipper wants is to pay for services they’re not using. Truck ordered, not used (TONU) costs and accessorials for additional, unnecessary stops are easy to prevent by having tight processes designed to facilitate efficient freight operations.
- Negotiate accessorial charges in SLAs. For those accessorials that may be more common or downright unavoidable, take the time to negotiate them as part of a service-level agreement (SLA) with a regular carrier. Mitigating the cost upfront saves big bucks in the long run.
Accessorials aren’t the end of the world
Accessorial charges have the potential to send invoiced amounts sky-high, and they can come as a shock if you’re not expecting them. It’s important to take a proactive approach and make sure the prevalence of these additional charges is minimal. Comb through freight invoices and see where you’re overpaying. Make a concerted effort to attack those specific accessorial situations to reduce future costs.
Accessorial fees are something every shipper deals with, but the extent to which they can disrupt the freight invoice audit process depends on how well you plan. Learn more about how nVision Global’s solutions can help you streamline your shipping to reduce accessorial charges — and deal with them swiftly during freight bill audit. Visit corporate.nvisionglobal.com to get started.