How to Avoid Accessorial Fees in Freight Shipping? | GoShip

Accessorial Fees – How to Avoid Them  

Posted on:
Nov 19, 2019

Are you tired of getting stuck with unexpected accessorial fees every time you ship freight? It’s a common problem for businesses, but you don’t have to deal with it any longer. This blog post will tell you how to avoid accessorial fees when shipping freight. We’ll also explain an accessorial fee sheet and how it can be used to your advantage. With the right strategies, you can save money on shipping costs and keep your business running smoothly. Let’s get started!

What are accessorial fees?  

Accessorial fees are charges imposed on shipments by carriers in addition to the normal rate applied. Standard accessorial charges include detention charges, fuel surcharges, and additional loading/unloading fees.

Carriers charge these fees for services outside the normal freight shipping process, such as when a truck is ordered but not used or when a truck driver must wait for more than the expected time to load or unload a shipment at the loading docks.  

The Department of Transportation (DOT) defines accessorial charges as “expenses which are incurred or services which are rendered in addition to those usually connected with the transportation of goods and which increase the cost of such transportation.”

These charges are often caused by circumstances outside the shipper’s control, such as inclement weather or traffic delays. In other cases, they may be due to extra work needed to complete the shipment, such as when a pallet jack is necessary to move a shipment.  

Why do they exist?  

Accessorial fees exist because carriers charge additional fees for services beyond simply transporting a shipment from point A to point B. These services are outside the standard transportation agreement and require more resources from the carrier. Common accessorial charges include services such as loading and unloading shipments, providing equipment such as pallet jacks, fuel surcharges, and detention charges.  

Carriers charge accessorial fees because they incur extra costs to provide these services. For example, a truck driver may require more time to wait to load or unload a shipment, the Department of Transportation might require additional documents for specific loads, and carriers may have to pay for equipment such as pallet jacks or loading docks. If a truck is ordered but unused, carriers may charge a fee for canceling the order.  

The difference between accessorial fees and other charges  

Accessorial fees are charges freight carriers apply to a shipment and the base rate. These fees are separate from additional fees such as fuel surcharge or Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. Standard accessorial charges include detention charges, pallet jack charges, and truck-ordered not used (TONU) fees.  

Detention charges are assessed when a truck driver must wait at the loading docks for longer than an agreed amount of time. The fee is based on how long it takes for the driver to load or unload the freight.  

Pallet jack fees are incurred when a pallet jack is required to move a shipment within the warehouse.  

Truck ordered, not used (TONU) fees occur when the carrier orders a truck, but the truck is not used due to circumstances beyond their control.  

How to avoid paying accessorial fees  

Accessorial fees are additional charges for services outside the scope of standard freight shipping. While accessorial fees can seem like an extra burden, there are ways to avoid them and keep your freight shipment costs as low as possible.  

One of the most common accessorial charges is when a truck is ordered but not used. To avoid these charges, make sure to clearly understand your order details before you place it and double-check with the carrier that they have the correct information before they pick up the shipment. It would be best if you also communicated any changes in the order details as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary charges.  

Another common accessorial charge is when carriers charge for a pallet jack or forklift if there are no loading docks. Provide a loading dock or ramp to eliminate these additional charges.

If one is unavailable, you can manually ask the truck driver to load or unload the shipment using a pallet jack. However, you should be prepared for additional labor charges for the extra work.  

Detention charges can also be incurred if the truck driver waits more than two hours after arriving at the pickup location or delivery destination. To avoid these charges, ensure your freight is ready when the driver comes and coordinate with them to ensure timely loading and unloading.  

Finally, a fuel surcharge is a frequent accessorial charge that can add up quickly on an LTL shipment. To reduce fuel costs, look for carriers that offer fuel surcharge programs and track their prices against other carriers to get the best rate.  


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