The shipper says one thing; the carrier says another. The consignee claims something else entirely, but the documentation doesn’t quite match what anyone is saying. Dispute ensues. It’s an all-too-common situation in the world of freight operations, and with increasingly complex supply chains, it’s becoming more cumbersome for shippers who want to keep their operations running smoothly.

But how can you avoid the complicated process of managing invoice disputes? What checks and balances can shippers incorporate to establish a standard for truth in an ecosystem where all parties across the supply chain might be both right and wrong? It’s a tall order!

Invoice disputes are a common occurrence

When it comes to moving freight from one destination to another, there’s bound to be some discrepancy on the final invoice — regardless of the number of links in the chain of custody. What matters is having visibility across the entire chain. The ability of shippers to understand carrier charges, verify freight fees, and understand where certain charges accrue is paramount in establishing a framework for understanding the freight bill.

It starts by seeing beyond the problem. Invoice disputes will always exist because freight handoffs typically happen in a silo. Beyond the shipper, anyone else involved in the chain of custody (the carrier, the consignee, etc.) know only the facts they’re privy to. In other words, they don’t know what they don’t know. It’s up to shippers to paint a clear picture of the freight journey from end to end and have the oversight and audit capabilities to qualify and define costs as they relate to the final invoice.

Tips for managing (and minimizing) disputes

Managing and minimizing invoice disputes involves two crucial pillars: a robust transportation management system (TMS) capable of providing precision freight information and a thorough freight bill audit process capable of qualifying invoices. Together, these crucial factors support easier management of freight invoice disputes. They allow for:

  • Invoice traceability across the supply chain. Traceability through a TMS provides clear oversight of the freight journey, including costs and fees along the way.
  • Simple, mandatory documentation. Documenting costs and fees at the point where they accrue is an important part of TMS-backed oversight.
  • Digital documentation to eliminate gaps. Having a digital bill of lading (BOL) and other crucial freight paperwork makes costing and invoice checking simpler at every stage.
  • Service-level agreement (SLA) information available at all times. A TMS and freight bill audit software work together to pull and verify SLA data against accrued costs and fees.
  • Automated auditing that prevents human error. Automating freight bill audit can help identify human error and mitigate future error during invoice reconciliation.

Freight audit offers a path to truth

Freight bill audit is the last line of defense against incorrect invoice amounts and — in conjunction with TMS data — the key to telling a factual story about the true cost of moving freight across the supply chain. Invoice disputes may always exist, but TMS and freight bill audit software will ensure they’re always resolved swiftly.

Disputed costs and invoices will always be part of the freight ecosystem. The trick is to minimize the contention they cause and provide a system for understanding and agreement that’s rooted in data truth. Let nVision Global help. Learn more about how we leverage freight payment audit to provide customers with the data they need to resolve and avoid disputes. Visit