Learn about detention fees and dry run fees in freight shipping

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The freight industry is as busy as it has ever been right now. With capacity issues and driver shortages spiking, it is crucial for carriers to be able to make timely pickups and deliveries in order to stay on schedule. If a carrier driver is detained at a pickup or delivery location, that time wasted affects every other pickup or delivery for the day. If an LTL driver arrives for a pickup and the shipment is not ready to depart, they will more than likely leave without the shipment in order to stay on schedule for the rest of the pickups that day. Because of this thin margin of efficiency, more and more carriers are charging detention fees and dry run fees for these occurrences.


What Are Detention Fees?

The first step in learning how to avoid being charged detention fees is learning about what they are and when they occur. Detention fees, or detention charges, in shipping refer to a type of accessorial charge that can be incurred by shippers when a carrier’s truck is held at the pickup or delivery location for longer than a predetermined allotted time, known as “free time.” Though the amount of “free time” allotted varies from carrier to carrier, it is typically one hour upon pickup and one hour upon delivery. The cost of detention fees also varies between carriers, but it can generally cost you between $50 and $100 per hour. Detention fees occur more often in full truckload (FTL) shipping than LTL, where the driver is more likely to leave the pickup or delivery location to fulfill the other pickups or deliveries they need to make that day. In LTL shipping, you are more likely to incur a dry run fee.


What Are Dry Run Fees?

Avoiding dry run fees is all about preparation. A dry run fee is a charge usually assessed by a carrier when a pickup is missed due to the shipment not being ready for pickup, but can happen anytime a pickup is scheduled but does not occur on account of the shipper. This additional charge is assessed to accommodate the time, labor, and gas used by the driver when no shipment is actually picked up. Because they are assessed at the discretion of the carrier, not all missed pickups result in dry run fees. However, if the shipper is obviously unprepared for the pickup and at fault for wasting the driver’s time, they will most likely be charged for it.


How to Avoid Detention Fees and Dry Run Fees

There are three main things to do in order to avoid detention fees and dry run fees:           

1. Have the freight packaged correctly and ready to depart at the loading dock or on the forklift at the time of the pickup.

2. Have all of the necessary shipping documents filled out correctly and ready for the driver when they arrive for the pickup.

3. Maintain communications between all parties involved. The shipper, driver, carrier, receiver, and any 3PL or freight broker managing the shipment should be on the same page.


Because of how complicated and unpredictable the world of freight shipping can be, there are a lot of charges, fees, and accessorials that can be incurred during the course of a shipment. Avoiding unnecessary charges due to miscommunication or unpreparedness is crucial to keeping your costs down and your freight shipping running smoothly.

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