the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
10 Essential Freight FAQs for Smart Shipping
04/07/2021 — Jen Deming
No matter what you're moving, there are a few freight shipping fundamentals that you need to know in order to transport your load successfully. While the process seems straightforward, there are some challenges that can be anticipated by answering a few basic questions beforehand. We've compiled the essential questions that you need to be able to answer before you start shipping freight successfully.
What is the difference between freight and small package shipping?
While freight and small package shipping have some similarities, there are some major distinctions to keep in mind. Shipment size is the first recognizable difference between the two, with small package shipments being smaller, typically less than 150 lbs. Freight shipments consist of larger loads, often palletized, that range from one or two pieces to a dedicated truck. Differences in transit time, pricing structure, and driver service level are other major variables between the two transportation options. Knowing the details and requirements of your load can help determine which service makes the most sense for you.
What kind of packaging is best for my freight shipments?
Proper packaging is key in protecting the security of your shipments. Using the correct materials for the commodity you are moving can help deter damages and loss. When packing items into multiple boxes, avoid any excess space to limit shifting. Packaging materials like bubble wrap, foam cushioning, and packing peanuts can all help cushion your commodities. Freight shipments do best when boxes are palletized or packed securely into customized wooden crates. If you are shipping multiple items on a pallet, it’s important to shrink wrap them together in a uniform, structured stack to avoid damage or separation of items. Clear and correct labeling is important to get your shipments where they need to go accurately and in an efficient time frame.
When does it make sense to use LTL vs truckload?
Choosing to use either an LTL (less-than-truckload) freight or truckload service is often situational and can depend on the specific requirements of a shipment. LTL shipments are moved by carriers who group your loads together with other customers for delivery. Your shipment will be sharing space with other freight and will be handled at multiple terminals. Truckload shipments typically use a dedicated truck for your move, so you are paying for the entire space for the full length of the transit. LTL freight is a more cost-efficient option, and great for regular freight loads of a few pallets or more, with no hard deadlines. Truckload shipping gives you greater security and a faster transit, making it more ideal for large, high-value or fragile loads.
Do I need a guaranteed delivery date?
Getting your freight load delivery date guaranteed can be a tough endeavor, so arrival dates given at the time of booking your load are always estimated. Factors like weather, warehouse delays, traffic, and other variables make it difficult for a carrier to promise delivery on a certain date with standard freight services. Time-critical or expedited services are a viable option for shipments that must arrive quickly by a certain time of day, day of the week, or other specific delivery window. It’s important to note, however, that even when electing to use these premium services, situations may arise that can cause a delay where a carrier will not be liable.
What is an accessorial fee?
Freight carriers use additional charges to compensate for any extra time and effort it takes to move a shipment, called accessorial fees. Any challenges with loading and moving your freight such as an oversized shipment, limited access at the point of delivery, or specialized equipment needs can drive up your freight bill. It’s important to note that every carrier charges different amounts for these fees, so knowing what services your shipment requires before pickup will help avoid any surprises.
What do I do if my freight is damaged?
As frustrating as the experience can be, freight damage or loss is almost inevitable if you ship regularly. The cost of repairs and replacements can be compensated by the carrier in these circumstances, but there are very specific steps smart shippers must take to ensure approval and payouts. Damage prevention is always the smartest tactic, so proper packaging is a great place to start. Making sure your paperwork is in order, checking for hidden damages, and filing your claim in a timely manner are all important steps to ensure your claim is resolved in your favor.
What is a freight class?
Many factors go into determining a rate for a freight shipment, and freight class is one of the most important. Every type of commodity that moves through the freight network is assigned a universal classification code by the NMFTA. These numbers are determined by four main factors: density, stowability, handling, and liability. Generally, the more difficult or challenging a commodity is to move, the higher the freight class. These qualities, combined with the length of haul, fuel costs, and extra services, determine your final freight rate. Classification can be confusing to get right, but freight experts can help decide which works is most accurate for your load.
What is density-based freight?
As more freight enters the network, and capacity continues to be limited, carriers struggle to keep up with available loads. Ideal freight shipments are solid, heavy, and take up minimal space within the truck, allowing more room for additional loads. Lightweight, awkwardly-shaped loads that don’t allow for an efficient use of space are subject to density-based rates. The shipment density, combined with freight class, will give you your total freight rate, which tends to be higher than low-density, easy-to-move shipments.How can I lower my shipping costs?A smart start for lowering operating costs is by taking a good look at your shipping practices. While there are some uncontrollable variables that factor into shipping costs, there are a few places you can better optimize your strategy for more savings. Improving your packaging, cultivating a strong relationship with your carriers, and maintaining reliable communication with your customers create great opportunities to lower your costs. Working with a quality 3PL can also help identify key areas where you may be able to save money with less effort on your end.How can a 3PL help my shipping operations?Working with a 3PL is a great way to gain resources and improve efficiency. Working with freight experts who are also familiar with the unique needs of your business can decrease the amount of time you spend on finding ways to cut costs. A 3PL like PartnerShip can also expand your network of carriers, ensuring your freight moves are covered quickly with reliable carriers, often with competitive rates that aren’t available to most businesses on their own.While these are some of the most common questions we receive at PartnerShip, they aren’t the only ones we hear from our customers. If you have a freight dilemma that you’re not sure how to resolve, contact the experts at PartnerShip and we will find the best answers for your business.
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5 Painless Ways to Save on Freight
03/12/2021 — Jen Deming
Everybody wants to lower their business operating costs, but nobody wants to spend a lot of time doing it. Decreasing your shipping spend is a good place to start, and there are five painless ways shippers can keep their freight costs low. From auditing your current carriers to tightening up your packaging practices, we break down simple ways to spend less on freight using minimal effort while gaining maximum payoff.
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Common Accessorial Fees Explained
02/24/2021 — Leah Palnik
No one likes surprise fees. Unfortunately, there are quite a few extra costs that are likely to pop up with LTL freight. Known as accessorial fees, these charges cover a wide variety of extra services and can add up fast.
What are accessorial fees?
An accessorial fee is a charge for services performed by the carrier that are considered to be beyond the standard pickup and delivery. These fees make up just one part of your freight rate, but can be challenging to manage. Understanding which accessorial charges you can plan for and which ones you can avoid is necessary if you want to keep your freight costs in check.
What are some common LTL accessorial charges?
You might be wondering what is considered an extra service, and you’re not alone. We’ve compiled some common LTL accessorial fees so you know what to look out for.
- Lift Gate Service
When the shipping or receiving address does not have a loading dock, manual loading or unloading is necessary. A lift gate is a platform at the back of certain trucks that can raise and lower a shipment from the ground to the truck. Having this feature on trucks requires additional investment by an LTL carrier, hence the additional fee.
- Inside Pick Up/Inside Delivery
If the driver is required to go inside (beyond the front door or loading dock) to pick up or deliver your shipment, instead of remaining at the dock or truck, additional fees will be charged because of the additional driver time needed for this service.
- Residential Service
Carriers define a business zone as a location that opens and closes to the public at set times every day. If you are a business located in a residential zone (among personal homes or dwellings), or are shipping to or from a residence, the carrier may charge an additional residential fee due to complexity in navigating these non-business areas.
- Collect On Delivery (COD)
A shipment for which the transportation provider is responsible for collecting the sale price of the goods shipped before delivery. The additional administration required for this type of shipment necessitates an additional fee to cover the carrier's cost.
Shipments containing articles greater than or equal to twelve feet in length. Since these shipments take up more floor space on the trailer, additional fees often apply.
- Fuel Surcharge
An extra charge imposed by the carriers due to the excessive costs for diesel gas. The charge is a percentage that is normally based upon the Diesel Fuel Index by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
- Advance Notification
This fee is charged when the carrier is required to notify the consignee before making a delivery.
- Limited Access Pickup or Delivery
This fee covers the additional costs required to make pickups or deliveries at locations with limited access such as schools, military bases, prisons, or government buildings.
- Reweigh and Reclassification
Since weight and freight class determine shipment base rates, carriers want to make sure the information on the BOL is accurate. If the carrier inspects a shipment and it does not match what was listed, they will charge this fee along with the difference.
Navigating the many nuances of LTL freight accessorial fees to determine which services you need and which you can avoid will help ensure the most cost effective price. Carriers generally publish a document called the "Rules Tariff 100" which provides a list of current accessorial services and fees. The shipping experts at PartnerShip are well versed in these documents and are happy to help with any questions you may have.
Want a more in-depth look into freight accessorial fees and how to avoid or offset the added costs? Check out our free white paper!
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- Lift Gate Service
5 Frustrating Reasons Your Freight Claim Was Denied
02/19/2021 — Jen Deming
While we’d like to think that freight loss and damage can be avoided, realistically it’s something every shipper will face. That means that at some point you will likely need to file the dreaded freight claim. Unfortunately, when it comes to the final say in payouts, carriers are in the driver’s seat. The good news is, most denied claims or insufficient payouts are caused by five common oversights. If you can avoid these issues, you are more likely to win your claim and recoup your losses.
- It falls into one of the exclusions outline by the Carmack Amendment
The Carmack Amendment was passed in 1935 in order to protect carriers from exclusive responsibility for any damage or loss occurring during transit. It sets up five scenarios that legally exclude the carrier from liability. If damage or loss occurs due to one of these instances, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to collect for the damages.
Act of God – Unavoidable events such as natural disasters, adverse weather conditions, medical emergencies, etc. that may befall the driver during transit fall into this category. These events have to be determined as unforeseeable and inevitable in order for the carrier to remain free from responsibility.
Public Enemy – If the damage-causing incident occurred during a defensive call to action by the government or “military force”, the carrier is not responsible for damages. While rare during peacetime, this scenario has also been applied to acts of domestic terrorism, but does not refer to hijackers, cargo theft, etc.
Default of Shipper – This scenario is the most common exclusion and places full responsibility for damages squarely on the shipper. If damage is caused by negligence of the shipper, due to poor packaging, improper labeling, rough handling during loading, and other factors, the carrier is exempt from liability.
Public Authority – An incident that results in damage or delay due to government intervention like road closures, quarantines, trade embargoes, etc. are unavoidable and exempt carriers from responsibility.
Inherent Vice – Some high-risk commodities deteriorate naturally over time, such as live plants, food, medical supplies, etc. As long as that deterioration is not being sped up by the carrier through negligence, they are safe from liability.
- You are missing key documentation
When you are submitting a claim, it is important that you have every piece of paperwork filled out correctly and in proper order for the carrier to review. The more documentation you can provide about specifics relating to your load, the better chance you have at winning a claim. It’s important for you to prove that the shipment was in good condition and securely packaged at the time of pick-up. Taking pictures of the product before, during, and after packaging is completed is a smart move.
You should also make sure that the bill-of-lading (BOL) is filled out correctly with precise weight measurements, commodity descriptions, classifications, and piece counts. The BOL serves as a legal contract between the carrier and shipper – errors on this document will have far-reaching consequences. If your weight is off or the commodity/classification is incorrect, liability payouts may be less than you expect.
An invoice determining the actual value of your product is key in determining a payout, as well as packing slips that help back up your piece counts. Other supporting documents like the paid freight bill, inspection reports, weight certificates, replacement and repair invoices, etc., are all great things to keep on hand in the event of a claim.
In addition to obtaining as many pieces of documentation as possible to support your claim, it’s key to present everything to the carrier in a timely manner. You have up to nine months from the delivery date to submit a damage claim. For lost shipments, you have up to 9 months to file from the date it was estimated to arrive. Concealed damage claims are much more urgent – a claim must be filed within five days. So after receiving your delivery, be sure to unpack your shipments and check for hidden damage as soon as possible.
- You didn't attempt to mitigate the damages
Even if the carrier takes responsibility for the damages caused to your freight, they are going to fight to pay the least amount possible. It is important to show that you have attempted to mitigate and lessen the effect of these damages as much as possible. Carriers are likely to want to know whether you attempted to salvage the shipment. Were you able to have the broken or missing items repaired or sold at a discount, if possible? It’s important that the proper commodity, nature of the damage, replacement costs, and potential loss of business are accurately represented to determine the full extent of loss.
The carrier has the right to inspect the damaged shipment as part of the freight claims process. So, it is very important not to dispose of damaged freight, unless storing it poses a threat to safety or health, such as with hazardous materials or spoiled food items. If this is the case, the carrier must be notified as soon as possible so they can act on inspecting the freight if need be. Preventing them from the opportunity to do so can result in an immediate denied claim.
- You haven't paid your freight bill
The last thing you might want to do is to pay a carrier for a shipment that they damaged during transit. However, it is important to be current on your invoices if you are submitting a freight claim. If you owe the carrier in freight charges, either for past due invoices or for the damaged load, you’re likely to get denied for a payout. Even if you do get approved, the reimbursement process may be drawn out or even amended to a much lower amount due to the total charges you owe the shipper.
The most important thing to note is that accidents and damages happen, despite the best of intentions. Paying your freight bill on time, even if a damage claim will be submitted, is a sign of good faith and can help maintain a working business relationship with a carrier who otherwise serves your business well.
- You've signed for a clear proof of delivery
If you take one point away from this list of tips, let this be the one: remember to inspect your shipment before signing the proof of delivery (POD). This document acknowledges the arrival of the load to the point of delivery. By simply signing this document and allowing the driver to continue on his way, you are stating that it has delivered free and clear without any loss or damages.
Smart shippers note: this is your opportunity to review and inspect your shipments carefully and note any discrepancies on the POD. Open boxes and check for concealed damages or loss. This is especially important if you have multiple pallets, crates, or shrink-wrapped items. Make sure what you have matches the BOL. If your BOL shows two shrink-wrapped pallets of stacked boxes, but the total piece count is off, make sure you note those missing items. Otherwise, a carrier can claim they delivered “two pallets” as stated on the BOL.
If you are the shipper, make sure your delivery location knows the importance of these procedures. It is on them to take pictures, note discrepancies, and challenge the carrier accordingly at the point of delivery.
If you’re not prepared, it’s much more likely that your freight claim will get denied. Use the checklist below to make sure you’re in a position to get the payout you deserve.
The bottom line
Freight damage is frustrating, time-intensive, and expensive. While it’s reassuring that you can submit a claim with the carrier in order to recoup your losses, it’s important that you are thorough in the information you provide. The more you know about freight claims, the better prepared you are when going to bat against the carriers. Check out our free comprehensive guide to freight claims so you can save yourself some time and spare yourself the headache.
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- It falls into one of the exclusions outline by the Carmack Amendment
Asset vs. Non-Asset Based 3PLs: The Major Distinctions
01/21/2021 — Leah Palnik
There are two main types of third-party logistics (3PL) providers and they’re not exactly created equal. Asset based 3PLs and non-asset based 3PLs each have their place in the market. However, they have a few key differences that can impact how your freight is handled and how much it will cost you.
What are asset based 3PLs and non-asset based 3PLs?
Asset based logistics providers own some or all of the parts of the supply chain. This can include carriers, trucks, warehouses, or distribution centers. Conversely, non-asset based 3PLs don’t own these parts of the supply chain. Instead they are relationship-based and develop a network of partners to help move your freight.
The major differences between asset based and non-asset based logistics
Besides how they operate, there are some distinctions that are important for shippers to take note of.
- Flexibility and ability to offer custom solutions
Since asset based 3PLs have their own carriers, those are the carriers they will rely on to move your freight. Their carriers likely specialize in specific lanes or services or may only have a presence in one part of the country. If those specializations match up with your specific needs, it could be a great partnership. However, if they don’t or if your needs vary, you likely won’t be receiving the most efficient or cost-effective service.
On the other hand, non-asset based logistics providers have a wider network. They have access to multiple carriers which allows them to source the one that most closely aligns with your needs. That flexibility allows them to offer more customized solutions for your freight.
- Level of control over the supply chain
Asset based 3PLs have more control over the supply chain because they own the assets that comprise it. What that results in is the ability to set their own pricing more easily because they don’t have to negotiate with an outside party. Asset based 3PLs also have more direct control over carrier issues and errors. They can implement changes with their carriers that non-asset based 3PLs simply can’t.
Non-asset based 3PLs have less control, especially when it comes to what the carrier does. That’s because there are more hands involved with moving your freight. However, a quality broker will know what to look for to prevent issues and will have high standards for the carriers it keeps in its network.
- The underlying interests of the 3PL
It’s hard to argue that asset based 3PLs aren’t inherently biased. They own their own warehouses and trucks, so it’s obviously in their best interest to have shippers use them over others.
The interests of a non-asset based 3PL are more in line with the shipper than the carrier. The best brokers will work on your behalf to find discrepancies in your invoices, provide claims assistance, and use their expertise to help you ship more efficiently.
How to decide between an asset based 3PL and a non-asset based 3PL
The type of 3PL that is best for you will largely depend on your specific needs. In general, you want to make sure you are working with a broker that can get you access to capacity when you need it most. From there, you should evaluate the typical characteristics of your freight so you can find a 3PL that is closely aligned.
No matter the situation, you need to work with a quality broker that is dedicated to finding you the freight solutions you need. PartnerShip is a non-asset based 3PL with an extensive network of alliances designed to help you ship smarter. Contact us to learn how you can save on your freight and improve your operations.
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- Flexibility and ability to offer custom solutions
Why It's Never a Good Idea to Fudge Your Freight Dimensions
01/12/2021 — Jen Deming
While constancy isn’t something you can always expect in the freight industry, there are a few steady trends we’ve seen in recent years: less truck availability, an oversaturated network, and rate increases. Both sides are using tactics to offset these variables. Carriers increase fees, and in response, shippers explore means to cut costs. A trend we’ve seen among novice and experienced shippers alike is either estimating or downright falsifying the freight dimensions and weight of their LTL shipments. But, we’re here to tell you that going either route is a risky maneuver that can have major fallout.
Incorrect dimensions can delay your shipment
Carriers have an entire arsenal of tools at their disposal that check for discrepancies in weight and freight dimensions. Once LTL shipments are picked up and the BOL (bill-of-lading) is tendered to the carrier, that paperwork serves as a legal document — a contract between the shipper and carrier. Because LTL shipments stop at multiple terminals while in transit, there is plenty of opportunity to get “caught” if your weight or freight dimensions stated on this document are incorrect. If a carrier suspects misrepresentation on a BOL, intentional or not, your shipment will be flagged for an audit and an inspection. This process takes some time and your shipment will be detained. Depending on the volume going through that particular terminal, it’s tough to say how long that could be. Your shipment delivery will likely be delayed or missed, which can be a disaster if it was a time-sensitive shipment or if it holds up other operations for you or your customer. It’s just not a good look.You could be subject to reweigh, reclass, and over-dimensional feesAs outlined specifically in each carrier’s rules tariff, freight rates are determined on a variety of variables. When it comes to weight, cost is often calculated on a per pound basis and a maximum “standard” shipment length. Intentionally underestimating weight and size in order to save money can be tempting. However, if the actual weight and length is determined to be more than stated on the provided BOL, the final cost will be adjusted to reflect that. But, how much can that really be, right? If you’re still thinking about estimating your freight dimensions, think again: fees associated with these inaccuracies can affect your bill twofold.Firstly, the audit and subsequent reweigh or measurement will incur an inspection fee. The standard inspection itself can cost anywhere from $20 to $50 for weight changes. According to their rules tariff, UPS Freight charges $25 for a reweigh. As for restricted lengths, the fee can vary greatly by carrier and is often calculated on a cost per foot basis. For example, UPS Freight charges $90 for “extreme length” LTL shipments that fall within 8-12 feet. Larger than that, but under 20 feet can cost you $125. Of course, it increases incrementally from there.Secondly, changes to your shipment details may affect your freight class, another important component of your freight rate. Some types of products are classed based on density breakdowns; a dimensionally-large but lightweight shipment can be expensive. If your weight is incorrect, your density and class may change significantly, which will affect the overall cost of your shipment. Combined with the initial fee, these two factors can ultimately tack on hundreds of dollars in unexpected fees alone — in fact, they may add up to more than the original cost of your load.False freight dimensions can lead to disappointing claim payoutsSo let’s talk about another worst-case scenario: your freight shipment is damaged or lost while in transit. It’s a daunting prospect, but unfortunately, a pretty common occurrence, especially as more freight enters the network. Most shippers know that in order to recoup losses, you can always file a claim with the carrier. But payouts can be complicated, and what many shippers don’t know is that a final claim payout can be majorly affected if the provided shipment details are inaccurate.Most carriers determine claim payouts on a dollar per pound basis, with heavier shipments receiving higher payouts. Even if your dimensional fudging makes it past the carrier unnoticed, a payout based on these inaccurate details may be much less than what you were hoping for. To make things even more complicated, certain classes of products aren’t covered at all. If the carrier does find out you inaccurately disclosed weight, dimensions, or other details, the claim can be completely denied.How to ensure you have accurate dimensions for your freightWhile it’s clearly not a great idea to guess or fabricate your freight dimensions, mistakes can also be made when you have the best intentions of providing the correct measurements. There are a few tips you should follow to ensure the details of your shipments are as accurate as possible.
Shippers are always going to be looking for ways to cut transportation expenses in order to improve their bottom line. While shipping costs may be a flexible area for that opportunity, fudging your freight dimensions to get there is both unethical and extremely risky. If you’re stuck on how to save, PartnerShip can help.Inaccurate freight dimensions is just one of the common slip-ups shippers make that have costly consequences. Check out our free guide on the top 5 most common mistakes to avoid so you can ship smarter.
- Invest in quality scales and other tools used within warehouses
- Audit and calibrate your measurement tools regularly
- If you aren’t able to acquire the proper equipment, use the manufacturer’s specs
- Don’t forget to add in weight and size measurements from packaging such as pallets, cartons, etc.
- Always calculate proper freight density
- If you are receiving the freight shipment but are responsible for the shipping costs, make sure those details are being calculated accurately
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5 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Reduce Your Shipping Costs
12/21/2020 — Jen Deming
In a time where managing business operating expenses is extra important, one of the first places you should look is reducing shipping costs. But analyzing your small package shipping for areas of improvement can be a time-intensive, detail-oriented process. Not everyone has the time to audit invoices and compare rates. For those who want to get the job done quickly and easily, you’re in luck: there are five quick small pack hacks that smart shippers can easily implement to help reduce costs.
- Obtain discounts with carriers
Lots of shippers don’t realize that the pricing structure you are currently using with your carrier may be negotiable, and there are different types of discounts that your account may receive. FedEx and UPS often offer discounts for new accounts when created online, but shippers beware: these discounts are usually temporary, and your pricing may fluctuate based on terms and conditions. You may lose the discounts entirely if you aren’t meeting shipping minimums and your pricing is subject to change at any time.
The more you ship, the better the discounts you’re likely to receive directly from FedEx or UPS. However, even if you have a lower shipping volume, there are still ways for you to obtain discounts. If your business belongs to a trade association or a local chamber, you may have access to discounted rates through your membership. PartnerShip manages over 130 association shipping programs that offer FedEx discounts. If you’re a member of an industry group, look into your member benefits or reach out to our team to find out if you’re eligible.
Take advantage of free packaging
The packaging and supplies you need to properly contain your shipments are important, but can be costly. However that doesn’t mean you should skimp on new materials or reuse old packaging – doing so can compromise the integrity of your shipment and increase the risk of damage. The good news is, some carriers offer free shipping supplies to help ensure your package is secure. Both UPS and FedEx offer free packaging supplies for customers that you can order online and have delivered, free of charge. With free envelopes, packing tubes, boxes, and poly bags, you can be sure your small package shipment will travel safely to its final destination, all while creating some space in your shipping budget.
Make the most of Multiweight and Hundredweight options
From insurance plans to your cable bill, everyone knows you can save money from bundling. That same principal can also apply to your shipping. Both FedEx and UPS offer options for customers who are shipping multiple packages to the same location that can help you save money versus the rates you would pay if they’re considered individual packages. For businesses shipping frequently to the same locations, FedEx multiweight pricing is an efficient and cost-effective service option. UPS has a similar program called UPS Hundredweight.
There is a catch for shippers interested in these options — it isn’t available to just any business. FedEx Multiweight and UPS Hundredweight must be negotiated into your contract, or offered as a part of comprehensive shipping program, like the association programs managed by PartnerShip.
Avoid dimensional weight pricing
To combat the increase in bulky packages entering their systems, FedEx and UPS have implemented dimensional (DIM) weight pricing. With DIM weight pricing, cost is calculated based on package volume, rather than weight. The higher the volume, the more space it takes up in delivery vehicles, which means there is less room for other packages. If a package isn’t particularly heavy but is taking up a lot of space, that’s costly for the carriers.
After calculating your DIM weight, measure the result against your package’s actual weight; the greater of the two will become your billable weight. The best way that you can offset volume-based pricing is to take a hard look at your current packaging procedures. Unused space is a cost-conscious shipper’s worst enemy, so don’t use a package that’s oversized for the product inside and consolidate your orders when possible to ensure you’re not wasting space.
Take control of inbound shipping
Another way to save on small package shipping is by taking control of your inbound shipping procedures. It’s common practice for many businesses to allow their inbound small package orders to be arranged by the vendor. But often times that leads to higher order costs for you. By instructing your vendor to ship through your account, you can reduce your costs through a few simple steps:
- Review your vendor invoices to determine whether you have access to better pricing through your FedEx/UPS account vs. your vendor’s account.
- Create routing instructions that include clear directions on which carrier, account, and service to use for your shipments.
- Ensure vendor compliance by providing your routing instructions to your vendors and regularly reviewing your invoices for accurate pricing.
While taking an in-depth look at how to minimize operating expenses can be time-consuming, these small package hacks give you a few quick ways to ship smarter. For more ways to save, PartnerShip can help.
It’s even more important to cut costs where you can, as FedEx and UPS rates are on the rise. Our free guide will help you easily identify the highest rate increases so you can more easily manage your budget.
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- Obtain discounts with carriers
The Essential Guide to the 2021 FedEx and UPS Rate Increases
12/08/2020 — Leah Palnik
It’s been a wild and unpredictable year, but there’s one thing you can count on as we head into 2021 – the annual FedEx and UPS rate increases. For the fourth year in a row, both carriers announced an average increase of 4.9% for air and ground parcel services. The new rates for UPS will go into effect on December 27, while the new rates for FedEx will go into effect a week later on January 4.
How to budget your parcel costs for 2021
While it may be tempting to budget for a 4.9% increase, you have to dig a little deeper to uncover how much your costs will actually go up in 2021. The actual rate increases vary quite a bit depending on the service you use and your package characteristics.
Both carriers have made the new rates for 2021 available:
You will also need to account for updates to FedEx and UPS surcharges. Common surcharges like Residential Delivery and Address Correction will be more expensive in the new year. But on top of that, FedEx and UPS have both made changes that could cause a package to incur a fee that it wouldn’t have in the past. For example, they both broadened the qualifications for their Additional Handling fee and have updated the list of zip codes for Delivery Area surcharges.
You can view a complete list of the changes that the carriers have each posted:
How to analyze the 2021 FedEx and UPS rate increases
While it’s imperative for you to be aware of the changes coming ahead in the new year, combing through every detail of the new rate charts is challenging and time-consuming. A good place to start is to identify the changes that will have the most significant impact on your budget. First, take a look at your shipments from the last year and identify trends for the services you typically use, your package characteristics, and zip codes. From there you can use the new report from PartnerShip, which highlights the areas with the highest increases and outlines the important changes.
The state of the parcel industry
Aside from the general rate increases, it’s important to understand what’s happening within the parcel industry. Within the past several months, the coronavirus pandemic has brought on a great deal of logistical challenges. Carrier networks have been strained as they struggle to keep up with demand and deal with restrictions. As a result, both FedEx and UPS have instituted peak surcharges.
Most notably, since the beginning of the pandemic FedEx and UPS have been applying peak surcharges to international shipments. Air cargo capacity has been limited which has disrupted the global supply chain and driven costs up.
Additionally, residential deliveries have increased substantially as more people are relying on online shopping. High-volume B2C shippers specifically have been ramping up their business. FedEx and UPS have responded to this increased demand by instituting peak surcharges. Instead of simply applying a surcharge on all residential shipments during the holiday season like they’ve done in the past, UPS and FedEx are applying it to those shippers with a large volume of packages or those who are experiencing a significant increase. That’s good news for many small businesses, but tough on those larger ecommerce retailers.
Even if these peak surcharges don’t apply to your business right now, it doesn’t mean that you’ll forever be immune. There are still a lot of unknowns related to the coronavirus pandemic and how it will continue to impact the supply chain. You will need to stay vigilant and keep up to date on announcements from FedEx and UPS.
What you can do to combat rising shipping costs
With everything the industry is experiencing right now, shippers don’t exactly hold the power. Add the general rate increases on top of that, and you may feel helpless against rising costs. However, there are things you can do to mitigate the damages. Download our guide to the 2021 FedEx and UPS rate increases to help identify the problem areas. Then contact PartnerShip to find out if you qualify for one of our discount shipping programs, and we'll help you ship smarter.
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Carrier Closures for the 2020 Holiday Season
11/19/2020 — Jen Deming
2020 has been a year unlike any other. With the holiday season upon us, managing your shipment timelines is more important than ever. Most carriers have strict cut-off dates to ensure your holiday cheer is delivered on time, and with COVID-19 stretching available carriers extra thin this year, it’s more important than ever to plan accordingly. Whether you’re shipping small packages to customers, or need to order seasonal supplies for your business, we’ve broken down the most important holiday shipping dates that you need to know.
Freight carrier holiday scheduleTruck drivers deserve some time off too, and it’s important for shippers to know which dates carriers are closed for business so you can plan your loads. Here are the 2020 holiday season closure dates for some common freight carriers:
- UPS Freight will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be modified service hours on New Year’s Eve, December 31.
- YRC Freight will be closed November 26-27, December 23-25, and January 1-2.
- XPO Logistics will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- Old Dominion will be closed November 26, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited service hours on November 27 and December 31.
- New Penn will be closed November 26-27, December 23-25, December 31, and January 1.
- Pitt Ohio will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- Reddaway will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited service hours on December 23 and December 31.
- Dayton Freight will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- R&L Carriers will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- Estes will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- Central Transport will be closed November 26 and December 25. There will be limited service hours on November 27 and December 24.
- Roadrunner will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- FedEx Freight will be closed November 26-28, December 24-25, and January 1.
- Holland will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1. There will be limited service November 27, December 23, and December 31.
- AAA Cooper will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
- ArcBest will be closed November 26-27, December 24-25, and January 1.
Small package carrier closures and deadline dates
With a holiday season projected to be bigger than any other, it’s super important to review holiday carrier schedules and deadlines. For your shipments moving with FedEx, make sure to reference the FedEx holiday schedule so you can plan ahead. If you're using UPS to ship during the season, remember to check the UPS year-end holiday schedule beforehand.
If the unprecedented volume of holiday shipments has you saying "no, no, no" instead of "ho, ho, ho," the experts at PartnerShip can help. Please keep in mind that our office will be closed on November 26-27, December 25, and January 1. Happy Holidays from PartnerShip, and hang in there - we're welcoming 2021 with open arms!
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Eco-Friendly Shipping is Possible with a SmartWay Partner
10/16/2020 — Leah Palnik
If you are concerned with the environmental impact throughout your freight shipping supply chain, there are options for eco-friendly shipping.
The SmartWay Transport Partnership is a collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the freight industry and is designed to improve and streamline shipping operations so they use less fuel and generate less pollution.
Launched in 2004, the SmartWay Partnership is a voluntary public-private program that:
· provides a system for tracking, documenting and sharing information about fuel use and freight emissions
· helps companies identify and select more efficient freight carriers and operational strategies to improve supply chain sustainability and lower costs from freight movement
· reduces freight transportation-related climate change and air pollutant emissions
In our ongoing effort to be an environmentally responsible freight shipping broker, PartnerShip is pleased to announce that it has once again been named a SmartWay Logistics Company Partner, for the fourth consecutive year. That means that we manage logistics in an environmentally responsible way and help reduce the environmental impact from freight transportation.
The EPA is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and there has been a lot of progress in the transportation industry. From NOx standards to fuel efficiency programs, these efforts have made a significant difference. Since its launch, the SmartWay program has helped partners avoid emitting 134 million tons of air pollution (NOx, PM, and CO2) and saved 280 million barrels of oil, which is the equivalent of eliminating annual electricity use in over 18 million homes.
More and more customers are making their shipping decisions based on responsible environmental performance, and being a SmartWay Partner means that we place a high value on sustainability and efficiency, just like they do. PartnerShip is proud to be an eco-friendly freight broker.
If you’ve been looking for an environmentally friendly shipping company, contact PartnerShip. We can provide you with eco-friendly shipping options. Contact us at 800-599-2902 or get a quote now!
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5 Crucial Holiday Shipping Strategies for Ecommerce Sellers
10/09/2020 — Leah Palnik
As a consumer, it might feel like it’s too soon to start thinking about the holidays, but retailers know that waiting is not an option. If you’re an ecommerce seller, you’ve probably already been stocking up your inventory and preparing for the increase in traffic to your site. As you’re getting ready for this busy time of year, keep these crucial holiday shipping strategies in mind.
- Reduce your parcel rates
Shipping orders to your customers can get expensive, fast. While some of the big players in ecommerce can negotiate discounted rates directly with FedEx and UPS, that doesn’t mean that the smaller sellers have to suffer. If you belong to a trade association or a chamber of commerce, check out their member benefits. Many groups offer parcel discounts with UPS or FedEx that are included as part of your membership.
- Consider on-demand warehousing options
If you don’t need year-round warehouse space, but your orders ramp up significantly during the holiday season, consider using on-demand warehousing. This can help alleviate the pressure on your existing operations, in a time when it’s crucial that everything runs smoothly. A key part of this strategy is also the added ability to reach your customers sooner. It’s no secret that meeting customer expectations for deliveries is essential to your business, and with the right warehousing partner, you’ll be able to reduce transit times and gain access to cost-effective expedited services.
- Clearly communicate shipping deadlines
There are some of us who are guilty of waiting until the last minute to do their holiday shopping. When’s the last day to order for Christmas? Do you offer expedited options or any special seasonal guarantees that could give you a leg up over the competition? Managing customer expectations for holiday shipping will increase your customer satisfaction. Clearly communicate this information on your website, during the purchasing process, and in emails to your subscribers.
- Consider special promotions
Now is the time to pull out all the stops to maximize your sales. People are looking to buy, and it’s your job to incentivize them to spend their hard earned dollars on your site. According to a report by the National Retail Federation, 50% of shoppers cited a limited-time sale or promotion as the reason they were swayed to purchase an item they were on the fence about.
Even more notable, 64% of shoppers said that free shipping has influenced them to make a purchase. Offering free shipping has become the new normal in the world of ecommerce. If you’re worried about the costs of “free shipping” there are several different strategies you could try. For example, try setting the free shipping threshold above your average order amount to increase the amount people spend when making a purchase on your site. When executed properly, consumers will be more likely to add items to their cart to meet the minimum and it becomes a win-win.
- Set up a streamlined returns process
With increased holiday sales comes the inevitable – returns. According to a Narvar Consumer Report, 74% of customers said return shipping fees will prevent them from making a purchase. On the flip side, 72% said that a “no questions asked” return policy would make them more likely to buy from a retailer. The influence of the return policy on the purchase decision is undeniable. Make your return policy as customer friendly as possible and communicate it clearly at the beginning of the shopping experience. Also, take proactive steps like providing return labels in the original order and offering in-store returns so it is less of a headache for you and your customers.
Striking a balance between appealing customer promotions and the right holiday shipping strategies can help make your season bright. If you need to reduce your parcel costs or could use some help with storage and fulfillment, PartnerShip has you covered. Our shipping and warehousing services set ecommerce sellers up for success. Contact us today to learn how you can ship smarter.
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- Reduce your parcel rates
Gearing Up for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week 2020
09/01/2020 — Jen Deming
Our country has long depended on the tireless efforts of the nation’s truck drivers, and this year, we have even more reason to be grateful. September 13-19 is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, and here in 2020 it takes on a special significance. Throughout the unprecedented challenges our country has faced during COVID-19, businesses have depended on shipments being delivered that our homes depend on. From medicine to food items for families, medical provisions for essential workers and school supplies for our makeshift at-home classrooms, truckers are on the front lines, at risk, so that we receive the goods we need to keep this country going.Many national and local businesses and service centers are running promotions and contests for truck drivers during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week in honor of these heroes behind the wheel.
- PartnerShip - As a special thank you to our very own partner truckers, PartnerShip will randomly select one driver daily moving loads during National Truck driver Appreciation Week to win a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card.
- Shell Rotella SuperRigs 2020 – This year, the popular truck “beauty contest” is going virtual and has added a special category for “Most Hardworking Trucker.” Tune in online for winners being selected during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Category winners will be featured in a 2020 Shell Rotella SuperRigs, MyMilesMatter Rewards Points, and all kinds of merch like jackets, hats, and other goodies.
- Travel Centers of America – Starting Sept. 1, TA will begin a month-long celebration of America’s truck drivers. UltraONE members making a fuel or service purchase will be entered to win the “TA Driver Appreciation sweepstakes”, with prizes like airline tickets, gift cards, an Indian Scout motorcycle, and more. Additionally, the service centers will be offering extra points, discounted services and products, and other promotions through the TruckSmart app.
- Pilot Co. – Through Sept. 1-30, truckers receive special offers and can to enter-to-win signed merchandise from singer-songwriter Randy Wylie Hubbard, who also helped create a special video honoring America’s professional drivers. Through the month, drivers also receive free drinks and shower services every day all month long, free diagnostic tests on their trucks, and bonus Push4Points.
In addition to these special promotions being run during Truck Driver Appreciation week, many businesses and restaurants have also offered free services and meals throughout the COVID-19 crisis, as a thank you for the extra efforts and added risk these drivers are taking to get consumers the supplies they need.
- CDL Meals – Drivers can order these healthy meal alternatives on-the-go through the app and receive an extra 25% off using the code “SHOP25”.
- Denny’s – Participating Denny’s locations have extended the 15% off online orders for truckers. Call individual locations to confirm, and use promo code "Driver15" online.
- Cracker Barrel – Locations nationwide are offering free coffee and fountain drinks for drivers. Speak to a store associate for details, and find a Cracker Barrel along your route at crackerbarrel.com/locations.
- Papa John’s – Professional truck drivers receive 25% off regular menu prices until Dec. 31, 2020. Use code "Deliver25" at checkout.
- Ruby Tuesday – Between noon and 8 p.m.,truck drivers receive 25% off their online order. Drivers should enter "25" when prompted at checkout.
- Motel 6 – For drivers who need a break from sleeping in their cabs, the hotel chain is offering special discounts for drivers during COVID-19 when booking through the Trucker Path app.
We appreciate all of our drivers – thanks to your hard work and dedication on the front lines, our customers and our nation’s businesses can keep moving through this crisis.
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4 Major Advantages to Ditching Your Digital Freight Broker
08/24/2020 — Jen Deming
The convenience and accessibility of managing your day-to-day tasks online is appealing for most people, and shippers are no different. The shift to using digital freight brokers has been a trend for years, with perks like fast quotes and less phone tag. It's important to know, however, that if you're using automated digital freight brokers, you may be compromising on key components that give you a competitive edge. Working with an efficient traditional freight broker takes the best of both worlds, and adds in four key benefits that smart shippers need to succeed.1. Customizable service options that maximize your budgetDigital freight brokers rely on doing what they do best – pulling shipment data and running a high volume of quotes quickly and efficiently. These fast quotes are nice to review pricing among a variety of carriers, but this is a transactional approach that specifically relies on the shipper to input the correct data. If you’re shipping the same loads consistently, and just want to get your loads rated, picked up, and delivered, this may work for you.But freight shipping isn’t a one-size-fits-all business. The bulk of most shippers’ loads consist of a standard pallet size and weight, with delivery to repeat customers and businesses. However, what happens when you have a priority load that needs expedited services or ship to a location with limited access? If this is outside your realm of expertise, you may be completely in the dark about which services or carriers are the best options for your freight. Working with a traditional freight broker doesn’t require you to be an expert – they can take on that role for you by identifying key areas you may be overspending and help guide your choices so that you don’t sacrifice service for a lower cost.2. Familiarity with your business needs for better efficiencyA digital freight broker’s main selling point is efficiency, speed, and convenience. Running quotes online and on demand without consulting a live agent may be an expedient way to get an idea of potential rate costs. But, it’s best to use this as a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay. Freight shipping is full of variables and unexpected costs run rampant with even minor changes to a shipment’s weight, class, dimensions, and services. It takes more than quick quotes to successfully manage your freight shipments.A quality traditional freight broker will assign someone to manage your account. Over time, your contact will get to know your freight profile, from service preference to budget requirements. A freight expert who is intimately familiar with your business can catch classification errors, give packaging advice, and review invoices to get a better grasp on how to manage your freight spend.3. Additional freight management services that cut costsA digital freight broker may offer additional assistance like booking loads or preparing the bill of lading. Once the shipment is booked, however, service pretty much stops there. A pick-up number will be generated, and tracking can be done through the carrier’s website, which is a similar process to one you’d use if you booked with a carrier on your own. If your shipment encounters any challenges en route, however, you’re left to manage the issue on your own.A traditional freight broker has basically seen it all, and knows how to navigate any obstacles your load experiences in transit. When you don’t have time to spend on the phone to find out why your pallet is being held at a delivery terminal, a traditional freight broker will do it for you. If you receive reclassification, reweighs, or additional accessorials that you did not request on your invoice, a traditional freight broker will lead inquiries into why those changes were made, and start disputes if need be.In the unfortunate case your shipment is lost or damaged, traditional freight brokerages often have dedicated claims departments with specialists trained to submit a claim on your behalf. Damage claims are tricky, involve strict timelines, and require specific documentation to be submitted successfully to give you the best chance at receiving reimbursement. Working with a full-service broker will help you navigate tricky areas where a digital freight broker may fall short.4. Pricing flexibility with carriers negotiated on your behalfQuoting shipments with a digital freight broker may be convenient, but after you input your shipment details and receive rates from carriers, that’s where negotiation stops. You can’t assume that the rate you are getting is entirely correct. While it’s obviously an unwelcome surprise to get a pricey bill that is higher than the quote you received, what happens when your online quote is too high in the first place? Rate quote sticker shock can be frustrating, and if you run a smaller business with zero leverage to negotiate with carriers, it can be tempting to cut costs by using a budget carrier.A reliable freight broker likely has years of experience and strong relationships with reputable carriers. Leveraging these relationships helps the broker by gaining additional business for the trucking company, and assists the customer with an opportunity for price negotiation. This mutually beneficial relationship provides incentive for some additional flexibility when it comes to rate, and in most cases, an agreement can be reached between all parties that ensures quality service and fair pricing.The bottom line about digital freight brokersWhile the convenience associated with digital freight brokers is certainly enticing for businesses who are already strapped for time, it’s key for shippers to remember that there’s more to freight shipping than running a quote and pushing it out your dock door. Cutting costs and maintaining a budget are more important than ever, and smart shippers know that working with a full-service traditional broker, like PartnerShip, offers both efficiency and cost-saving solutions for their businesses.
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The Life of Your LTL Shipment
08/13/2020 — Jen Deming
Are you familiar with the step-by-step process of an LTL freight shipment? There's much more involved than pick up and go. We broke down each checkpoint with important notes to remember, so you can keep tabs on the secret life of your load.
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Don't Fall for These Top 5 LTL Shipping Myths
07/29/2020 — Jen Deming
Whether you are an LTL newbie or seasoned pro, there's some common misconceptions about freight shipping that can impact your load, and most importantly, your costs. Don't take for granted that everything you know about LTL shipping is a fact. Learn more about the top five LTL shipping myths so you can ship smarter and dodge costly freight errors.
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How to Package Parcel Shipments Cost Effectively
06/30/2020 — Leah Palnik
When evaluating ways to lower your shipping costs, you don't want to overlook the impact that packaging has on your bottom line. In fact, there are a few high cost culprits that may surprise you. Learn how to package your parcel shipments more cost effectively with these 4 simple tips.
Looking for an intro into the fundamentals of proper packaging? We have the ultimate guide.
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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:
Limited access delivery fees are an unwelcome surprise that no one wants to see on their final freight bill. Brushing up on what may trip you up is the first step in knowing how to offset this common accessorial. Building an expert shipping team is your next move. PartnerShip can help you navigate hidden charges and can provide you with options to help you save on limited access delivery fees.
- 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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Top 5 Freight Invoice Mistakes That Are Costing You Big
05/12/2020 — Jen Deming
After a shipment has been picked up and delivered, you may sigh with relief, happy to know your freight made it safe and sound. However, your shipment’s story isn’t quite over. After receiving a freight invoice, whether it’s coming from a third-party or directly from a carrier, you should review all details and charges for accuracy. Typically, you want the details of your shipment to match up with what was used on the BOL (bill-of-lading), however there are some scenarios where you will see adjustments and extra charges. Because an estimated 5-6% of all carrier invoices are calculated incorrectly, reviewing your invoice against details provided on the BOL is a good place to identify overcharges. To help you recognize these costly errors, we’ve outlined the five most common freight invoice mistakes to look out for.
- Incorrect carrier name and number
It may seem obvious, but one of the first things a shipper should check for on their invoice is carrier name and number. When freight is tendered to a carrier, it can be easy to pass a shipment onto the wrong truck. This happens much more often than you’d think, especially if the warehouse has a busy dock and the location is receiving multiple trucks moving in and out for pick-ups throughout the day.
While an incorrect carrier picking up your shipment might not impede delivery, it may result in being overcharged. If you have pricing arranged with a particular carrier, and it’s not the one who picked up your load, you will likely see a higher bill than you were expecting.
To offset this risk, the warehouse staging team needs to be diligent about reviewing the BOL, making sure pallet and carton counts are accurate and the correct load is confirmed. When labeling the outgoing shipment, it’s important the correct BOL is with the right load and that the shipment is labeled properly.
- Incorrect contact info
Another common invoicing mistake is incorrect contact information. This may mean that either the address at pick-up or delivery is listed incorrectly, or the “bill-to” portion of the invoice is inaccurate.
Not only will incorrect addresses most likely result in a delay through a missed delivery, but it can also result in various types of extra fees. If your carrier shows up at a delivery location and the shipment is refused due to address inaccuracies, many freight companies will bill you for the mistake. If the actual location requires an appointment for delivery, that’s an additional cost as well.
On top of that, if a pick-up or delivery location isn’t classified correctly, you may see a higher freight bill. For example, if the delivery location is assumed to be a commercial location, but later found out to be a residence (for example, a business run from home), the invoice will include fees for residential or even limited access. It’s important to note that not all carriers classify locations the same. What may be considered limited access for one carrier may not be for another.
Incorrect discount rates
As we mentioned earlier in this post, many shippers have special rates negotiated with either a 3PL or directly with a carrier. This can include a percent discount, lowered or waived accessorial charges, or even FAK agreements that have been arranged.
When negotiating discounts with a carrier, it’s important to keep any agreements on file, and to audit invoices to make sure those rates are reflected in the charges. Because the discount may not be on the overall cost, go line by line and check fuel surcharges, mileage, and other factors.
When working with a 3PL, it’s important for the billing party (whether that’s the shipper or receiver) to make sure the correct “bill-to” is being used on the BOL. If this goes unnoticed and you are invoiced directly from the carrier without the appropriate discounts listed, it may seem like you’re out of luck. However, your 3PL can help out with a letter of authorization (LOA) submission to the carrier for a re-bill. It’s very important to do this before paying the invoice and as quickly as possible before the bill is past-due.
Wrong calculations of weight, dimensions, pallet count, and NMFC
Most shippers have dealt with receiving a freight bill riddled with unwarranted charges thanks to inaccurate item details. It’s the most common reason a freight invoice is disputed, and it’s an understatement to say that adjustments made to things like weight, freight class, dimensions, and more can greatly affect a shipment’s final cost.
A good place to start when looking at item details on an invoice is to review the product description and its related freight class or NMFC. With thousands of types of products entering the freight system every day, each type of product is assigned a numeric code to help classify and rate your shipment. A general rule is that the more difficult a product is to move, the higher the freight class will be, and more expensive to boot. It is important for shippers to thoroughly research what freight class is most accurate for their shipment before it is picked up, to avoid reclassing on an invoice. Reclassing can result in a higher base charge and also have fees associated with the adjustment itself.
It’s also important to make sure the specifications and weight of your shipment are correct, because more and more carriers are moving towards dimensional or density-based pricing. If your product takes up space but doesn’t weigh very much, this low-density shipment will likely cost you. Make sure you are calculating density correctly, so that you don’t see surprises or adjustments on your invoice, including reweigh charges.
- Accessorial requests and fees
Accessorial fees are charges for extra services that are requested by the shipper or receiver, but often show up unexpectedly on a freight invoice. They can be planned and requested on the BOL or come up out of need at the time of pick-up or delivery and billed after the fact. They include services such as lift-gate, inside delivery, or driver assist.
The best way to avoid these types of freight invoice mistakes is to have clear communication between the shipper and receiver. Get information on the type of destination location, whether there is a dock and team available for delivery, and what type of truck will likely be needed to make a delivery. Accessorials are a difficult type of charge to contest, as the carrier holds the cards and will have noted the request for any special services. It’s up to the shipper and receiver to know which services come with a charge, and whether you can avoid needing these special services in the first place.
It’s important to note that mistakes can happen, and as we determined, adjusted invoices are common. If you’ve reviewed the facts, checked your BOL against your invoice and worked through details between the shipper and receiver, but still find inaccuracies, what do you do next? If you believe you’ve been overcharged and have documentation to prove it, you have a case for a claim against a carrier. It may seem like a daunting task, but you’re not alone. Working with the experts at PartnerShip can help offer claims assistance and get you started. Contact us to learn more.
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- Incorrect carrier name and number
A Practical Guide to Parcel Shipping Rates
04/23/2020 — Leah Palnik
The ever-rising cost of parcel shipping is a hot topic. FedEx and UPS raise their rates regularly and find clever, new ways to recoup costs. The changes aren’t always clear and can catch shippers by surprise. However, if you have a solid understanding of what determines small package rates and what to look out for, you’ll be in a good position to manage your costs.
How parcel shipping rates are determined
- Weight. No surprise here, but how much your shipment weighs plays a large part in how much it will cost to ship. If you take a look at the service guides for UPS and FedEx, you’ll notice that the heavier the package, the higher the rate.
- Dimensions. You can’t look at just the weight alone. In fact, your package dimensions could cause your shipment to be rated at a higher weight, thanks to what is known as dimensional (DIM) weight pricing. Carriers use this to ensure you’re paying for the space that your shipment takes up in their delivery vehicles. Larger packages take up more room, leaving less space for other deliveries. To avoid this increase in your parcel shipping costs, it’s imperative that you’re efficient with your packaging.
- Service. If you need your shipment to get to its destination sooner rather than later, you’re going to pay for it. Air services that offer delivery overnight or next day will cost you the most. In comparison, if you can plan for some extra time, using a ground service will save you.
- Distance. Your origin and destination ZIP codes play a big part in determining your rate. The farther your shipment needs to travel, the more you’ll pay. This is based on groups of ZIP codes that parcel carriers refer to as zones.
- Fuel. This is a tricky one to put your finger on because both UPS and FedEx will make adjustments on a weekly basis based on information published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The surcharge is a percentage and applies to the base rate, as well as a number of accessorial charges.
- Surcharges. Based on your shipment’s characteristics, you can be hit with additional fees known as accessorials or surcharges. These fees are assessed for things like residential deliveries, additional handling, and oversized dimensions. The best thing you can do is educate yourself on the common fees so you can budget for the unavoidable ones or make some changes to avoid the ones you can.
- Discounts. Not every account is created equal. You may be able to secure discounts directly with your carrier if you have significant volume. For everyone else, you can get discounts by working with a third-party like PartnerShip.
The history of FedEx and UPS rate changes
At the end of every year, FedEx and UPS both announce a general rate increase (GRI). In recent history, it has been an average increase of 4.9%. However, that is only an average – meaning that some rates will actually increase by more or less based on service and package characteristics. Throughout the year, keep track of the type of parcel shipments you process – the services you’re using, the weight and dimensions, and zip codes. That way you’ll be able to focus on determining the rate increases that will affect you the most when the time comes. This information can be overwhelming to go through, so get help where you can. PartnerShip publishes a guide to the rate increases every year that can be a great resource for when you’re planning your budget.
Changes to parcel shipping costs to look out for
It’s hard to predict exactly what changes FedEx and UPS will make to their rates, but it’s important to note that they don’t leave them untouched outside of the GRI. In fact, over the past few years they have been making more changes throughout the year. These changes tend to affect surcharges rather than the base rates. Not only how much they’ll cost you, but also how they’re defined. For instance, FedEx and UPS recently lowered the weight threshold for the Additional Handling fee. That means that more packages will get dinged with that surcharge. Obviously this isn’t a rate increase, but it’s a way that your costs could increase.
FedEx and UPS also make changes based on long-term industry trends, seasonal demand, or unforeseen changes in the market. When their networks are strained the most, FedEx and UPS are bound to react. For example, during past peak holiday seasons when online orders are known to be at an all-time high, UPS instituted a surcharge for residential shipments. And most recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, FedEx and UPS instituted a temporary surcharge on international shipments due to air cargo capacity being limited.
The bottom line on parcel shipping
Understanding all of the factors that make up your parcel rates is the first step to uncovering opportunities to cut your costs. Along with having that solid foundation of knowledge, keep a good record of your parcel shipments and their details so you can accurately forecast your needs and make adjustments. Lastly, stay on top of the latest updates from FedEx and UPS by reviewing their published changes and signing up for service alerts.
You don’t have to navigate these changes alone. PartnerShip provides resources to help you make sense of parcel shipping rates and can help you cut your costs. Contact us to get started.
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04/06/2020 — Leah Palnik
While you’ve been burdened with adjusting to the new normal that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has created, know that we are committed to supporting you and keeping your shipments moving.
Though this is an ever-changing situation, we will remain open. We are taking every possible measure to ensure the safety of our staff while also providing you with the same level of service you’ve come to expect from PartnerShip. Our goal is to minimize any further disruptions to your business.
We continue to monitor the situation and will make any changes needed to continue to serve you. If you have any concerns, we are here to help.
- Service guarantees for all UPS Freight LTL services from and to all locations are suspended, with the exception of UPS Freight Urgent Services. Read more.
- UPS Freight is prioritizing freight that is deemed essential in areas impacted the most by COVID-19.
- All YRC Worldwide companies, including YRC, Holland, New Penn, and Reddaway, have suspended reimbursement for service failures on both guaranteed and time-critical shipments. Read more.
- FedEx is suspending its Money Back Guarantee and has adjusted signature guidelines. Read more.
- UPS has suspended the UPS Service Guarantee for all shipments. Read more.
- Effective April 5, UPS implemented a temporary surcharge on UPS Worldwide Express, UPS Worldwide Express Freight, and UPS Expedited shipments originating from China Mainland or Hong Kong SAR to North America and Europe regions. As of April 12, that surcharge has increased. Read more.
- Effective April 6, FedEx implemented a temporary surcharge on all FedEx Express and TNT international parcel and freight shipments. As of April 27, that surcharge has increased for shipments originating from China. Read more.
- Effective May 31, UPS implemented temporary peak surcharges. Read more.
- Effective June 8, FedEx implemented temporary peak surcharges. Read more.
- To avoid redelivery fees or returned shipments, check with your recipient and confirm the delivery location will be open and available to accept your freight.
- Many manufacturers are switching their production lines for the common good, making ventilators, face masks, and other essential items that are in high demand right now. If what you’re shipping has changed, make sure you’re using the right freight class and noting the proper weight on your BOL to avoid reclassification and reweigh fees.
- Transit times for standard LTL shipments are never guaranteed, but now more than ever they’re less predictable. If your shipment is time-sensitive, you may benefit from using partial truckload services. Contact our team to determine your best options.
- Make sure you’re following social distancing best practices with drivers by communicating more over the phone and not relying on driver assist services.
- How coronavirus could affect supply chain and freight shipping
- Market updates in response to COVID-19
- FMCSA waives HOS nationwide for COVID 19-related movement
- Dry van demand rises as stores restock empty shelves
- Will coronavirus change trucking demand and rates? Watch these 4 factors
- Cargo handling continues at US ports despite coronavirus spread
- Airlines begin pulling passenger seats to make room for cargo
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Freight Brokers and Carriers: 3 Major Distinctions
04/02/2020 — Jen Deming
It's pretty easy to get lost in freight shipping terminology. A basic question that still puzzles even experienced freight shippers is understanding the differences between a freight broker and carrier. The distinctions between both affect factors like geographical coverage, liability, and responsibilities. Pinpointing these key differences will help you better understand each part they play in getting your loads from here to there.
Responsibility to shipper
When looking at a freight broker and carrier, it's important to understand the primary responsibility of each party in the physical transportation of your freight. A carrier refers to the company, or operator, that directly handles the transportation of your shipment. Common national carriers include UPS Freight, YRC Freight, FedEx Freight, and more. Carriers can specialize in less-than-truckload (LTL), dedicated truckload freight, or even specialized services such as refrigerated or oversized freight equipment.
A freight brokerage is a company that serves as a transportation intermediary rather than directly operating a truck fleet and physically moving your freight. A freight broker's job is to contract available loads with a carrier and find an acceptable rate within a specified time frame according to the shipper. The freight broker cuts down the time and effort it may take for a company to look for its own carriers and may decrease costs by shopping quotes.
Most freight loads are moved by common carriers - the big name, national trucking companies like UPS Freight and others we mentioned earlier. Most national carriers have terminals, or hubs, set up in areas where there is a very high demand for freight shipping. This is where they have the greatest truck availability and most competitive pricing for their loads. For areas outside of these shipping hubs, common carriers may have a limited pick-up schedule or work with regional carriers for rural deliveries. Regional carriers consist of smaller businesses and fleets that operate within a specific area. So while a common carrier can theoretically get your freight anywhere in the U.S., it may take a longer amount of time due to the need to contract a regional carrier.
Because a third-party logistics provider isn't managing assets and trucks themselves, they can essentially operate out of anywhere. Many brokerages have offices set up in hot shipping locations with satellite offices nationwide. Some brokerages specialize within a certain industry and become experts in specific types of loads such as oversized freight or cross-border shipping. They may also develop mutually beneficial relationships with local businesses and local carriers, allowing greater flexibility and premium service levels for special requests. In addition to domestic moves, brokers can also serve as a valuable resource for shippers moving freight internationally, offering guidance and expertise in addition to coverage options.
Liability and ownership of freight
A major difference between freight brokers and carriers is the ownership of the freight while in transit. According to the Carmack Amendment, when a carrier agrees to move a load, a contract is formed per the shipper load and count (SLC) noted on the bill-of-lading. By signing the BOL, the shipper is accepting responsibility by stating that the freight was loaded securely and counted. At the time of pick-up, and until delivery, the motor carrier is fully responsible for the freight that it has on board. This means that should the load experience any loss or damages, then the carrier is responsible. If a claim needs to be submitted, the claim is with the carrier, rather than a broker who may have arranged for the transportation of the freight.
From a legal perspective, a freight broker is not liable for damages to freight because the ultimate responsibility lies with the carrier. However, that doesn't mean that a freight broker can abandon their customer. A quality freight brokerage will have claims experts on staff that are knowledgeable about shipper's rights and responsibilities, liability restrictions, and proper claims filing procedures. While a carrier may have a legal responsibility to damaged freight, a freight broker has an ethical obligation to educate shippers and help out whenever a shipment encounters complicated roadblocks like a damage or loss claim.
The advantage of using a freight broker
When you work with a quality freight broker, you gain expertise, increase operational flexibility, and add a cost-saving alternative that you may not have when working directly with a carrier. Working with PartnerShip can ensure you have a team in your corner to help you navigate even the most unique shipping challenges.
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Ask the Experts: Top 6 Freight Shipping Tips
03/05/2020 — Jen Deming
Every day at PartnerShip, we field tons of questions from both new and experienced shippers looking for freight shipping tips related to product classification, density calculation, carrier tariffs, and more. As your shipping partner and expert resource, we've seen it all, but some key takeaways stand out above the rest. We asked two of our most knowledgeable freight veterans, Polly and Trevor, what they thought were the most important, can't-live-without freight shipping tips for businesses today. That way, you can anticipate challenges before they start and prioritize what common obstacles shippers face today.
Shipping Tip #1 - Freight transit time is an estimate
When a shipper wants to schedule a freight move, one of the first things that comes to mind is "when will it deliver?" It's an understandable question that needs to be answered so that the shipper can communicate with the delivery location. When quoting a shipment, the carrier often provides a transit and delivery estimate based on the shipment date. But, there are many things that the truck may encounter while in route that can cause a delay. Our Truckload Brokerage Manger, Polly, helps arrange hundreds of shipments a month and warns shippers that traffic and inclement weather can both affect pick-up dates and transit times. Additionally, standard freight services operate during business days and don't travel over the weekend, so this has to be considered when estimating arrival.
When you are using LTL or partial truckload services, be aware that your shipment will be sharing space with other loads on the truck. If for any reason loading is held up at any locations before yours, you may experience a delay or a missed pick-up as a result. If timely delivery is imperative, there are just-in-time and expedited options to consider. We want shippers to understand that they must be informed on potential delays on either end of the shipment and to build in extra time to ensure delivery success.
Shipping Tip #2 - Anything "above and beyond" costs money
Freight shipping is a complicated business. However, one fact is fairly straightforward: the carrier's responsibility to your freight is to pick it up and get it to where it needs to go. As our Revenue Services Manager, Trevor, can attest to, the more complicated the shipment and the more extra services you need, the higher your bill is going to be. Specialty equipment such as flatbeds or refrigerated vans are going to cost more than a standard dry van, just because they are less common and they do require more work from the driver. Accessorials such as driver assist in loading and unloading, limited access locations, and residential delivery fees cost extra because these require more flexibility, maneuverability, and effort than a typical dock pick-up.
Predictably, guaranteed delivery or expedited services will cost more. Working through weekends or holidays will always be a bit more expensive because it extends the hours of service. With ELD enforcement in full effect, drivers must be more careful about the restrictions on the hours they work. Often because of this, a team of drivers may be required to fulfill the delivery requirements, and that is very likely to cost more.
Finally, it's important to know that last minute requests will likely affect your costs in procuring a truck. Depending on availability, if it's tough-going trying to find the truck you need (especially if it's something more specialized than a dry van), the request is likely to work out in the carrier's favor. Working with carriers directly, Polly often sees drivers charging premiums for available trucks knowing a customer needs coverage immediately.
Shipping Tip #3 - Damage will happen, it's just a matter of time
Damage is a dirty word in the freight business, but it doesn't take very long for most shippers to realize it's almost unavoidable. The very nature of freight shipping is risky. Often, loads are moved to and from terminals and are loaded on multiple trucks. More hands on your freight means more risk of damage, so it's important to offset as much of this risk as possible by properly packaging and setting up claim filing success.
If your business is shipping especially fragile items such as built furniture, machinery, or electronics, start with crating as much of the load as possible. While custom crating may be costly, limiting damage will be worthwhile in the long run. If your shipment consists of multiple crates or pallets, be sure to label your paperwork and the pieces accordingly so they are kept together at each terminal. In the case that you are especially worried about the security of your freight, it may be worthwhile to look into more secure services like partial options or a dedicated truck.
Lastly, shippers must be aware that shipping personal items is rarely accepted by a freight carrier - especially since it's nearly impossible to designate liability. If your shipment experiences damage, you're not likely to get a satisfying payout. If you want to move personal effects, research local white glove delivery or moving services who specialize in these types of moves rather than a standard freight carrier.
Shipping Tip #4 - It's a carrier's market, make them want to work with you
With more and more freight entering a network with limited carrier capacity, available trucks are harder to find. Those who are able to move your shipment are going to have the upper hand and can pick and choose who they want to work with depending on a variety of factors. It's up to shippers to make themselves desirable to the carrier.
Because the ELD mandate has tightened the hours that drivers are able to work, shippers who are extra considerate of their time are going to be appreciated the most. Detention is frustrating for the driver, and expensive for a shipper. If a business can streamline their loading/unloading process to avoid that risk, a driver will note the efficiency of that location. Remember that the reverse is also true. If a driver is consistently delayed because your team is unprepared, or the driver has to help with loading to keep to a tight timeline, the extra effort will cost you.
On a related note, if the shipper or receiver is willing to extend warehouse hours to accommodate driver delays or early arrivals, carriers are more likely to take on the load. It's hard to accurately predict an exact transit or arrival time due to factors like weather or traffic. If a driver is less stressed to make a delivery window or is allowed to unload early so they can get back on the road, all the better.
A few additional things that will help increase your chances of becoming a preferred shipper? Working with truckload carriers daily, Polly says that a friendly warehouse team, prepared storage space, and a comfortable waiting area all help. Throw in perks like free Wi-Fi and access to coffee, and you're golden. Feeling appreciated goes a long way.
Shipping Tip #5 - Documentation is everything
In freight shipping, documentation can serve legal purposes, direct carriers to delivery, and exist as product invoices for receivers. Making sure you have accurate information on every piece of shipment documentation is important, from address labels to unit count. The Bill of Lading (BOL) is one of the most important shipping documents because it serves all three purposes listed above and then some. The BOL also helps determine the cost of your shipment based on class and commodity as well as additional services listed. In navigating claims and billing adjustments daily, Trevor stresses that making sure this important piece of paper is accurate is the first step in preventing bumps in any part of the shipment process.
Your freight invoice is also a very important piece of paperwork. Checking your final freight bill or invoice from the carrier is key in auditing your pricing, classification, extra fees, etc. It's a valuable resource to review where you can improve freight operations, check for errors, or minimize extra freight costs.
Proof of delivery receipts and inspection reports are also very valuable carrier-provided documents to review, especially should you need to submit a claim. Photos taken at pick-up and delivery are necessary as well for building your case against a carrier should your shipment become damaged. Every piece of documentation that is required throughout the freight shipping process can make or break a shipper should problems arise. Trevor insists that if you're looking for the most streamlined experience, ensuring every document is filled out correctly with accurate information must be a top priority.
Shipping Tip #6 - Freight quote vs freight rate
The last distinction we would like to make for shippers is understanding the differences between a freight quote and a freight rate. Trevor prepares invoices daily and stresses that a quote is an estimate and is only as good as the details provided.
A final bill is invoiced after the carrier charges the broker, or the shipment has been moved, and it can differ from the original quote due to discrepancies in the provided details. Even minor adjustments in weight or class can greatly affect a final invoice. If the weight was estimated, or a class number isn't researched properly, you may see a huge change in your final bill.
Additional services like liftgate, driver assist, residential delivery, and more can all show up after the fact because shipment locations weren't researched properly. Additionally, if services were requested by either party after the quote was made, you'll see that adjustment in the final rate as well. Understanding that a freight quote can be flexible based on the many variables that affect a final freight rate can prepare shippers for any discrepancies.
While there's so much that we want our shippers to know when arranging their freight transportation, these key items are the most important. Staying informed and keeping these freight shipping tips in mind better prepares you for potential challenges while keeping your costs low. If you have questions along the way, you have a knowledgeable resource in PartnerShip. With an expert team including Polly and Trevor available to answer your most complicated freight questions, we can steer you in the right direction. Call 800-599-2902 or contact us today for more information.
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Logistics and Legal Rights: Where Do Shippers Stand?
01/23/2020 — Jen Deming
Every shipper will likely encounter loss or damage and seek reimbursement by filing a claim. In order to navigate this tricky scenario, smart shippers become their own advocates by taking a deep dive into the legal policies that affect shipper's rights and responsibilities. When going against powerhouse national carriers who have every resource in their corner, you can arm yourself with critical information that helps you get the best outcome possible for your business.
The Carmack Amendment Basics
First things first, the term "Carmack Amendment" is frequently thrown around in the industry, but what exactly is it and why should shippers care? Put simply, this law was set in place in 1935 to draw the line between carrier and shipper liability. Prior to that, with the Bill of Lading (BOL) serving as a legal contract of carriage, carriers were almost exclusively held responsible for damage or loss. With the passage of the amendment, it was determined that the carrier should be held responsible unless one of the outline exclusions is met. This change let to a positive impact on the industry, incentivizing both carriers to proactively prevent theft and shippers to more effectively prepare their freight.
5 Carrier Exclusions to Responsibility
The Carmack Amendment clearly outlines five specific instances in which a carrier is not to be held liable for damage, delay, or loss to freight. These events are intended to protect the carrier from circumstances outside of their control. The five are:
- Acts of God: A carrier cannot be held liable for instances of natural disasters or other uncontrollable phenomenon such as severe weather, medical emergencies involving a driver, etc. In order to act under this defense, the event must be notably unanticipated and unable to be avoided.
- Public Enemy: Carriers are exempt from damage liability if the incident was caused during a defensive call to action by the government, or "military force". While there has been relative peacetime on American soil for quite some time, the "public enemy" defense has also applied to acts of domestic terrorism in some recent court cases. It does not include events caused by hijackers, cargo theft, organized crime, or other criminal acts.
- Default of Shipper: This is the most notable exclusion for shippers to be mindful of and indicates any event that the carrier can prove damage was caused by the shipper. This can include a defense of negligence, poor packaging, improper labeling and other mistakes made during preparation. The majority of carriers will try to prove these circumstances if there is any doubt a shipper could have made a mistake. Shippers must properly offset this risk with secure packaging, correct labeling, and maintaining communication with your customer for delivery.
- Public Authority: If the government takes action that results in damage or delay, the carrier is not liable. Government policy cannot be controlled, so road closures, trade embargoes, recalls, and quarantines all exempt a carrier.
- Inherent Vice/Nature of Goods: Some commodities are naturally subject to deterioration over time, and as long as the defect was not caused or sped up by the carrier negligence, they are safe from liability. A common example of high-risk commodities include produce, live plants, and medical supplies. If you are shipping temperature controlled or time sensitive products, be sure that you are taking every precaution to ensure security and viability.
Just as there are five distinct factors that exclude carriers from responsibility, there are three factors the shipper must prove in order to start a damage claim. To begin, it must be demonstrated that the shipment was picked up in "good" condition. This protects the carrier should the shipment have been damaged to begin with. In order to defend yourself, take pictures of your freight before it is picked up proving all is well. Collect invoices, product descriptions, and item counts so that you have a leg to stand on in the case of any loss or shortage.
Secondly, the shipper must prove that the load was delivered in damaged condition. Complete a thorough inspection before you sign and again, take pictures of everything for proof. Concealed damage, hidden and only discovered after the carrier has left, is a tricky area for claims. Open and dismantle your packaging at delivery to check for issues, and don't feel bad for delaying a driver. If there is any doubt at all, make a note on the delivery receipt. If you are not present for delivery, make sure clear expectations are established with the receiver or customer so that everyone is on the same page.
Lastly, the shipper has to prove that the freight damage resulted in a specific amount of loss. It won't work to throw an arbitrary number in a freight claim, so collect itemized receipts and quotes or bills for replacement or repair costs. Be reasonable and accurate in your request.
Fair Compensation Rights for Shippers
Even if the shipper does everything right, claim payouts are rare what would would expect. Carriers do everything in their power to minimize financial losses, so they will look at every loophole possible. So how does a carrier determine a claim payout?
The amount is typically determine by a set dollar amount per pound based on the commodity. It's important to review carrier tariffs and agreement limits before you ship your product. Some carriers will pay nothing on a used item, so be sure to review the fine print. It's also critical to have an accurate BOL. If there are incorrect details, you're likely to see that reflected in your payout. It's also important to note that a carrier claims department will examine the damage, and limit a payout if they feel the product can be salvaged or repaired at a lesser amount than what is requested.
Since carrier liability is limited, a smart shipper will obtain supplementary freight insurance. It's a super smart option for anyone shipping fragile goods or a high value commodity. While most carrier liability only pays out a certain dollar amount per pound of freight, freight insurance can be purchased in the value of coverage you need, and you are not required to prove the carrier is at fault.
It's important to note carrier compensation timelines for payouts. A carrier should acknowledge receipt of the claim within 30 days, with a ruling completed within 120 days. In the event of a denied claim ruling, the shipper has a right to file a lawsuit. Most need to be filed within 2 years and one day, but there are exceptions so it's best to work quickly.
Shipper's Requirements for Proper Claim Filing
It's up to the shipper to follow a precise protocol in filing a claim to increase their chances of a suitable resolution. Collecting as much hard evidence as possible will help your case. Seeking written statements by warehouse receivers and testimonies of loading procedures, as well as video evidence can assist your cause. Being thorough is crucial but working quickly is just as important, so be mindful of deadlines. You have nine months from the delivery date to file, but for those concealed damage cases, you have five days—so get on it.
Documentation you may need to file:
- Proof of delivery
- Original BOL
- Freight bill
- Merchandise invoice
- Replacement invoice or repair bill
- Pictures of damaged freight
Knowing the basics of the Carmack Amendment and how they relate to shipper's rights helps protect your business in the event of damaged or lost freight. the best part is, you don't have to go through the claims process alone. Working with PartnerShip can ensure you have an informed ally looking out for your best interests and your company's bottom line. For a thorough rundown on freight claims, download our free white paper.
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What is the Difference Between Cross-Docking and Transloading?
01/14/2020 — Jerry Spelic
They are common questions in logistics and warehousing: What is cross-docking? What is transloading? What is the difference between cross-docking and transloading?
First, a definition of each of these freight services.
Cross-docking is unloading inbound freight from one truck, holding it in a warehouse or terminal for a very short period of time, and loading it onto another truck for outbound shipping.
Transloading is when inbound freight is unloaded, the pallets are broken down, and their contents sorted and re-palletized for outbound shipping.
Here is an example of cross-docking: A manufacturer needs to ship 20 pallets of products from the east coast to destinations in Texas, Florida and California. The 20 pallets are first shipped to a third-party warehouse in Cleveland, Ohio. A day later, 5 pallets are sent to Florida, 10 to Texas, and 5 to California on trucks bound for those destinations. Since the pallets were never unpacked and were only in the warehouse long enough to move them from one truck to another truck (and from one dock to another dock), they have been cross-docked.
Using the same Cleveland, Ohio third-party warehouse, here is an example of transloading: 5 suppliers of a manufacturer ship a year’s supply of components to the warehouse. The components are stored until they are needed, at which time the warehouse picks them, assembles them into a single shipment, and ships it to the manufacturing facility.
To recap, cross-docking is the movement of an intact pallet (or pallets) from one truck to another, and transloading is the sorting and re-palletizing of items.
Both cross-docking and transloading services are specific logistics activities that can create benefits for businesses; especially ones that utilize a third-party warehouse.
Benefits of cross-docking
- Transportation costs can be reduced by consolidating multiple, smaller LTL shipments into larger, full truckload shipments.
- Inventory management is simplified because cross-docking decreases the need to keep large amounts of goods in stock.
- Damage and theft risks are reduced with lower inventory levels.
- With a decreased need for storage and handling of goods, businesses can focus their resources on what they do best instead of tying them up in building and maintaining a warehouse.
- Businesses can store goods and products near customers or production facilities and have them shipped out with other goods and products, decreasing shipping costs.
- Businesses can ship full truckloads to a third-party warehouse instead of many smaller LTL shipments.
- With storage and logistics managed by others, the need for building and maintaining a warehouse is eliminated.
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Beyond Boxes and Pallets: 10 Other Ways to Move Freight
01/03/2020 — Jerry Spelic
When most people think of freight, it’s usually an image of the ubiquitous 40” x 48” wood pallet that comes to mind. But there are many other ways to move freight, including these lesser known, but still important, methods.
Pallets. They are so important to freight shipping that even though we’ve covered pallets in depth before, we can’t not mention them here.
In addition to wood, pallets can be made of plastic or metal. Plastic pallets are popular for export shipments because they don’t have to be heat treated to be used for international shipping, like wood pallets do. Aluminum and stainless steel pallets are strong and lightweight, and since they can be cleaned and sanitized, they can be used in food processing and pharmaceutical plants, where cleanliness is essential.
Gaylords. Named after the company that first introduced them, Gaylords are pallet-sized corrugated boxes used for storage and shipping. Sometimes called pallet boxes, bulk boxes, skid boxes and pallet containers, Gaylords can have between 2 and 5 walls and are meant to be single-use containers. Frequently used as in-store displays as well as shipping containers, Gaylords can be used to ship items as diverse as watermelons, stuffed animals, and pillows. Depending on configuration and how many walls they have, Gaylords can hold from 500 to 5000 pounds each.