Why Am I Getting LTL Shipping Re-Bills?
If you have shipped LTL freight before, you may have received a re-bill on your shipment from a carrier. Re-bills are incurred when there is an inaccuracy regarding a shipment’s paperwork. Incorrect weight, dimensions, or NMFC number applied to a shipment, additional accessorials necessary to complete a shipment, or any other additional service required from the carrier beyond the original contract in order to make the delivery. Because of how complex and precise LTL shipping can be, re-bills are a fairly common occurrence in the industry. But that doesn’t mean receiving a re-bill and having to pay additional charges for a shipment is not frustrating for shippers. To help clarify the process, we created a guide to help shippers identify potential re-bills, understand how carriers check the accuracy of shipment information, and prepare shipments to avoid re-bills in the future.
Common Re-bill charges
Many re-bills occur simply due to incorrectly filled out paperwork. Incorrect contact or “bill-to” information, incorrect pickup or delivery addresses, failing to communicate business hour restrictions for pickups and deliveries, an incorrectly filled out Bill of Lading, or any other inconsistency that wastes a carrier’s time and money can all contribute to additional charges and higher bills.
Incorrect Weight, Dimensions, or NMFC Number
The most common cause of re-bills stems from inaccurate item details. Because LTL shipping involves a wide variety of products with different densities, liabilities, and handling considerations transported together in a single shipment, accurate freight class codes are necessary to provide standardization so that shippers and carriers can negotiate freight rates for different types of goods. There are eighteen possible NMFC classifications for LTL freight, the lowest and least expensive being 50, and the highest and most expensive being 500. 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 very important to know the correct NMFC code for the item and the applicable subclass into which it fits in order to assign the correct freight class.
Because of the complicated nature of freight classification, making sure your items have been classed correctly can be challenging. Taking specific and precise measurements and weights of your shipments and carefully consulting the NMFC freight classification index is crucial to define and classify your freight correctly to avoid a reweigh and reclassification from your carrier that will incur additional penalties and charges.
Accessorials are any fees added to an LTL carrier’s invoice for services performed by the LTL carrier beyond the standard dock-to-dock pickup and delivery. They include things like liftgates, which are required to load or unload trucks when there is no loading dock at the pickup or delivery location, requiring inside pickup or delivery, or limited access locations that are difficult for drivers to navigate.
When determining the original freight quote, accessorials can be planned, requested, and negotiated. However, failure to communicate the need for certain accessorials can result in missed pickups or deliveries, which can add additional penalties along with the added accessorial fees.
How Inconsistencies are Detected
In the past, LTL shipping would rely on a fair amount of trust between shippers and carriers to negotiate and determine shipping rates. Carriers couldn’t inspect every single shipment and item they transported to determine if it matched up exactly to the description and paperwork provided by the shipper. Usually, carriers would periodically check loads or check them if there was a noticeable discrepancy, so shippers could maybe get away with fudging the numbers or not being completely accurate when it came to weights, dimensions, and freight class.
Today, however, technology has made it possible for carriers to check nearly every single item they move. Technological advances like dimensioners, volume measuring machines that scan three-dimensional objects such as pallets of freight or crated shipments to determine their volume, and built-in forklift scales have made it so very few misrepresented shipments are able to slip through the cracks. These two machines automatically send information to software that creates a complete shipment profile for nearly every piece of cargo that comes through a carrier’s transit hub. Often, that same software is programmed to automatically check a shipment’s real-time information against what is on the shipper’s paperwork and add re-bills to the final invoice.
How to Avoid Re-bill Charges
While mistakes can happen and are sometimes unavoidable, the best way to avoid re-bills is to check and double-check your paperwork, measure and weigh your shipment precisely, communicate thoroughly with your carrier, and hire shipping professionals like the ones at Koho who can help you prepare your shipment correctly to avoid any unnecessary additional charges.