LTL carrier adbills: Learning from past mistakes

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LTL Carrier Adbills: Learning from Past Mistakes

If you are familiar with LTL shipping, chances are you have experienced an adbill charge from an LTL carrier. Adbills occur when there are discrepancies between the information filled out by the shipper to obtain the original quote and bill of lading (BOL) and what the carrier reports during the actual transportation of the goods. Because of how complex and precise LTL shipping can be, re-bills are a reasonably common occurrence in the LTL industry. But with the freight shipping market as chaotic and expensive as it is right now, shippers are already spending extra time and effort developing shipping strategies and carefully planning and managing their shipping budgets to maximize efficiency. Repeated adbills and additional charges can be especially frustrating when margins are thin and budgets are tight. To help shippers avoid unnecessary or unexpected charges, we will be discussing what re-bills are, how they occur, and the steps you can take to avoid them in the future.


What are Adbills and Who Issues Them?

Adbills are billing adjustments that can occur for a variety of reasons, but they all result in charges added to the cost of shipping beyond what was indicated in the original quote. Adbills are determined and issued by the carrier that is transporting the goods. Often, shippers who work with a 3PL provider to obtain freight quotes and manage their shipments may be under the misconception that adbills come from the 3PL. However, 3PLs do not handle the actual load and instead rely on the information provided by the shipper to obtain a quote from a carrier. The carrier handles the shipment from pickup to delivery and determines if additional services were required that were not initially indicated, misrepresentations of a shipment’s dimensions or description, or unnecessary delays in loading or unloading. Any adbills are relayed to the shipper by the 3PL and paid to the carrier on the shipper’s behalf, but it is the carrier that requests the billing adjustment after the shipment has been completed.


Detention Fees

 If a driver is forced to wait for hours to pick up or drop off a shipment, carriers may charge detention fees for the wasted time. If the delay is too long, drivers may skip the stop and charge a pickup/delivery attempt fee. LTL drivers make multiple pickups and deliveries on a given day, so any significant delay to their schedule will reverberate to all of the other shippers waiting on the driver for their pickup or delivery. If a delay occurs because your shipment was not ready or you were not prepared to accept your delivery when scheduled, carriers will make a bill adjustment that charges you for the lost time and resources.


Weight, Dimension, and Freight Class

LTL shipping involves a wide variety of products with different densities, liabilities, and handling considerations transported together in a single shipment, making the logistics of LTL organization a complex and precise process. Shipments are cataloged by weight, dimension, and freight class, and that information is used to determine how different shipments fit together safely and securely on a trailer.

Weight must be accurately represented in the initial paperwork to avoid an adbill, so avoid estimating, rounding to the nearest hundred pounds, or relying on an insufficient commercial scale. One way to ensure the weight of your shipment is correctly determined is to invest in a pallet jack scale with a digital readout.

The dimensions of your shipment must be equally accurate and complete. Precisely measure your shipment’s height, width, and length (including the pallet and any packaging) and multiply them together to determine the volume. 

Freight class is determined based on an item’s transportability due to factors such as weight, dimension, density, storage capability, ease of handling, value, and liability from instances like theft, damage, and spoilage. Because the range of freight class can vary so significantly for a single type of product depending on its specifications, it is imperative to know the correct NMFC code for the item and the applicable subclass into which it fits to assign the correct freight class.

It is a good idea to create spec sheets or packing lists with detailed information regarding the weight, dimension, and freight class of your shipments to help resolve any potential disputes from the carrier.



Accessorials are fees added to an LTL carrier’s invoice for services performed by the LTL carrier beyond the standard dock-to-dock pickup and delivery. Accessorials include things like liftgates, which are required to load or unload trucks when there is no loading dock available, inside pickup or delivery, remote or limited access locations, residential deliveries.

Accessorials can be negotiated when obtaining an initial freight quote, but any accessorial required during shipping that was not indicated on the bill of lading (BOL) will result in adbills and potential penalty costs for delays, missed pickups, or undeliverable shipments.

Mistakes can happen and are sometimes hard to avoid. However, the best way to avoid adbills on your shipping invoices is to check and double-check your paperwork, measure and weigh your shipment precisely, and communicate any accessorials thoroughly to your carrier. To make it easier on your time and budget, consider working with a 3PL comprised of shipping professionals like the ones at Koho, who can help you prepare your shipment correctly and fill out paperwork accurately to prevent any avoidable or unexpected billing adjustments after your shipment is completed.

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