First, what are accessorial charges? Accessorial charges are fees added to a freight bill for additional services that the carrier might provide. These are a la carte, or per service, and outside of standard shipping and receiving. They are mode-agnostic but are known to occur most often with LTL shipments.
These charges will oftentimes be assessed and applied after the shipment has been completed, making it difficult to forecast final costs. Knowing what accessorial charges are, which ones you can plan for, and how to prevent unnecessary charges can help reduce freight costs.
While you can’t eliminate accessorial fees, being knowledgeable of quoting procedures and detail-orientated with your order information can help you avoid unnecessary costs.
What are Accessorial Charges and Accessorial Fees?
Commercial trucks are designed to load and unload conveniently onto loading docks. When shipments are being made to addresses with no loading dock area, they require liftgate equipment. A liftgate is a special hydraulic platform fitted on the back of a truck that can raise or lower a shipment to and from the ground.
Not all trucks are equipped with liftgates, so you’ll need to specifically source a carrier that has them. If you don’t communicate that a lift gate is needed, the driver will arrive without the required equipment and won’t be able to complete the delivery. This means your shipment will need to be redelivered (another fee) and could potentially be late (another fee).
There are several reasons a carrier may need to redeliver an order; if no one is available to accept the delivery, if the shipment is rejected by the receiver, if the necessary equipment isn’t on site, etc. Redelivery is one of the priciest accessorial fees because it essentially requires the carrier to redo the job and miss out on other income.
A charge will apply if the truck is unable, for whatever reason, to be unloaded/loaded during its slated delivery day. Similar to a redelivery, a layover can mean the loss of an entire day’s worth of productivity and will have a domino effect on their ability to earn.
Reclassification and Reweigh
This accessorial fee is tied specifically to LTL shipping. LTL base rates are determined by shipment weight, dimension, and classification. If these details are incorrect or not provided, the carrier will need to rework your order.
Dimensions, weight, and class all impact how a truck is loaded and when these details are incorrect, it causes disruptions and added work. To make up for lost efficiency, fees are added to the final bill. Providing accurate shipment details is the #1 way to avoid unplanned fees.
If a carrier needs to notify a consignee before making a delivery, they charge a fee for the extra work.
Whenever a driver does extra work to make a delivery, they charge for it. This could include hunting down a consignee to receive a shipment or enduring security-related inspections and processes. Government facilities, schools, prisons, medical facilities, camps, and nursing homes are known for having limited access.
Lumper OR Driver Load/Unload
Unloading a vehicle is outside the general job requirements of a carrier. So, if the driver must load or unload the freight, they charge for the labor. At large distribution warehouses, third-party laborers get paid to unload cargo. Distributors pass these charges on to shippers as a “lumper” fee.
Delivery into a residential area is much different than a commercial office or warehouse. Extra labor and time are incurred to maneuver through neighborhoods and unload the freight. To compensate, carriers charge an added fee.
Bringing a shipment into a house requires additional equipment (such as a pallet jack to lift the pallet up curbs and stairs), additional time, and sometimes, additional manpower. This is a “white glove” service that comes with an added cost.
Cities are congested, have parking limitations, and can be difficult to navigate. Traffic jams and the extra work required for delivery eat away at driver productivity. To recoup lost time, they charge an accessorial fee.
A surcharge is charged according to the current price of fuel. For instance, on the carrier’s pricing table, the surcharge might be $0.05 if the current rate of fuel is between $3.509 and $3.559. This prevents the carrier from having to forecast.
When an order takes up more space than a pallet it costs additional to transport. Carriers must specially configure loads to accommodate. This fee is most often incurred when an order exceeds 12 feet.
If a driver is required to break up an order and move product from one pallet to another they charge a fee for the added work. There is often a minimum fee set that can increase based on weight and package size. This most often occurs for deliveries into grocery warehouses.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that Hazardous Materials (HazMat) are properly documented during transport. This includes extra paperwork and added risk, which the carrier adds accessorial charges for.
Going to a facility outside of normal operating hours can cost extra. The carrier may have difficulties getting where they need to go, or finding who they need to speak with, so they will charge a fee to accommodate for their time.
Truck Ordered Not Used (TONU)
Orders can sometimes fall through. Most carrier contracts will have a clause allowing for a TONU, but with limitations. There is only a charge if the truck is canceled after a pre-established cut-off time.
If upon arrival at a shipper or receiver, the carrier is told to drive to a different location, then divergent miles may be charged. There will typically be a ceiling mileage of which the carrier is willing to drive, but if surpassed they need to accommodate for fuel and lost time.
These charges typically occur when a shipment has two or more destinations, requiring a driver to make several stops along the way. Multi-stop loads sometimes cause delays because each destination could have hiccups. If carrying other shipments, delays equate to a loss in productivity that the carriers needs to account for.
If a carrier must store a shipper’s delivery, then the carrier may charge a storage fee, either by the hour or by the day.
If a carrier is delayed for any reason at a shipper/receiver, detention charges may apply. Shipping contracts typically allow for some detention time, but if a driver is detained beyond the time noted, charges are applied. Docks that have long wait times are unappealing to carriers. They often choose to avoid these shipments altogether.
How to Keep Accessorials in Check
While some accessorial are unavoidable, there are a few common measures shippers can take to limit these added charges:
Automate as much as possible. Accurate product picking and safe packing (with the aid of good transportation management systems and warehouse management systems) can dramatically reduce additional fees.
Double-check the shipment’s size and weight. If there are errors in the booking process (like incorrect dimensions or bill of lading errors), you’ll likely see an accessorial fee on your invoice.
Prioritize shipping visibility. End-to-end shipment visibility helps identify problems before they happen. Anticipate the equipment your shipment will need for loading and unloading, coordinate shipment delivery and unload timing with its destination and limit any extra time or fuel spent on each trip.
Avoid Accessorial and Accessorial Fees
Seeking a logistics partner that can help you avoid or lower accessorial fees? Reach out to Specialized Global Logistics today. We work with our customers to establish optimal behaviors that prevent added charges.