The Truth About Limited Access Delivery Fees
06/22/2020 — Jen Deming
No one likes an expensive freight bill. With so many types of unexpected costs and hidden fees, shippers frequently end up with an invoice higher than they budgeted for. Limited access delivery fees are one of the most common billing discrepancies surprising both new and veteran shippers alike. So, why do carriers charge this fee and what can you do about it?
What is a limited access fee?
Simply put, a limited access fee is an extra charge passed on by the carrier for any shipment that, due to location, will take extra effort or time to navigate. This includes places that are difficult to get to, congested areas, or destinations that have strict security requirements. Limited access fees can vary by carrier and often show up as a flat rate or a per-hundredweight charge. Minimally, this charge will cost you at least $100 but could cost you upwards of $300.
What factors determine if a location is considered limited access?
One of the most frustrating things about a limited access delivery charge is that not every carrier defines the same locations as limited access. You may hire different carriers for the exact same load to the exact same delivery location and end up with two very different bills. To anticipate whether a location may incur this fee, a good rule of thumb is to always consider the driver's time and effort. If the area is going to delay the carrier or require extra effort, it's safe to say you'll get the charge. So, what variables influence an area's "limited access" status?
Not every delivery is going to be at a warehouse with an expansive lot and a spacious loading dock. Some locations are especially are especially difficult to access due to their physical layout. Many urban storefront locations, schools, or businesses are only accessible via narrow streets and alleyways, and this makes maneuverability extra difficult. Loading and staging requires space, and without a dock or even a back lot, this can be especially challenging. This extra effort and delay is going to result in a limited access fee.
Some locations are simply a pain for drivers to get to, so they are going to charge you for that hassle. Businesses located in congested areas like downtown in a city, fairs and carnivals, boardwalks and beaches, campsites, island resorts, or worksites like mining quarries and construction zones are going to incur charges. These types of places are challenging to maneuver a large truck through, so the carrier will have to find a specialized vehicle like a pup truck to make it through. In cities where traffic is unpredictable at best, one delivery can take up a large portion of the day. This delays business and prevents carriers from making additional deliveries. This wasted time and extra effort will cost you.
Disruption to business
Another type of limited access charge is one that has challenges related to business hours or the private nature of the location. These places may be easier to get to, but issues arise due to hours of service restrictions and operating staff. Typically, these are businesses that would be disrupted during regular operating hours, such as schools and universities, places of worship such as churches and temples, doctor's offices, assisted-living and retirement facilities, hotels, piers, farms, and ranches. These places must have a loading team ready, and if it's harder for a driver to get the load off of a truck because the staff are busy during regular business hours, you're going to see that extra charge.
Some places are a challenge to get to because of the extra effort and security required to make a delivery. Prisons, government facilities, and military bases all have proper procedures and protocols in place for incoming and outgoing deliveries for the sake of safety. This often means inspection check points, proof of identification, appointment for delivery, and more. Going through all of these hurdles is going to delay the driver, potentially holding up other deliveries that are left waiting on the truck. The inefficiency of extra effort and lost time requires carriers to implement limited access fees to recoup the cost of lost productivity.
How to avoid breaking the bank over limited access delivery fees
We've outlined some of the most common types of limited access delivery points, but it's extremely important to understand these aren't the only ones. The best line of defense to combat limited access delivery fees is to do some groundwork and research before shipping to any type of unfamiliar facility. That way, you can better prepare for those charges and build that into your freight quote if need be. To ensure the best possible outcome for your freight invoice:
- Communicate with your consignee (delivery location) in order to learn from their past experiences. Find out whether they have a dock, a team, shipping/receiving hours, and any limited access fees they may have been targeted with in the past.
- Do your own research to validate that information. Google Maps is a useful tool that many freight professionals use to glean information. It can't tell you everything, but it can shed light on general terrain and many of the logistical challenges drivers will be dealing with.
- Gain insight into what the security processes of every delivery location may look like. It's not just military locations or prisons that require identification or load inspections. The more you know on the front-side of a delivery, the less you will be surprised by delays and charges.
- Call the carrier you plan on using and learn from them directly what locations will incur extra charges. National freight carriers like UPS Freight and YRC Freight list their rules tariffs on websites, so be sure to research these for precise calculations of charges and fees.
- When in doubt, work with a knowledgeable freight partner who can answer your questions and do the legwork for you and offset any surprises. A freight broker can help determine alternate carrier options with reliable service and lower limited access fees to better meet your budget.
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