If you manage the shipping for your business, you know that there aren’t many things worse than getting hit with a charge that’s much higher than you anticipated. Perhaps you’re familiar with the freight industry, and if so, you’ve probably heard about accessorials. (Hopefully, you didn’t find out about these unforeseen freight costs the hard way… if you did, we’re sorry. That’s no fun.) Arm yourself with knowledge so that you can best prepare! 

It’s always best to plan for the addition of fees (accessorials) onto your shipment, just to be safe.

Accessorials: The What

Accessorials are extra charges for transportation services — essentially, anything beyond the dock-to-dock expense. These may include delivery to limited access or residential drop-off locations, over-length freight, re-weighed freight, notifications, single shipments, packing (and unpacking), long haul fees, extra pick-ups, re-deliveries, trailer detention, fuel increases, and maybe others, depending on your carrier. These charges can add up — especially if you’re not aware of them and don’t plan for the cost.

Accessorials: The Why

When you get charged with accessorials, it often means your carrier had to use special equipment for the pickup, transport, or delivery. Depending on what you’re shipping, these charges may be unavoidable. It’s just part of the process. 

There are three broad categories in the “why” of accessorial charges land on your bill. They are:

1. Administrative. Remember a few blogs ago when we talked about the Bill Of Lading (BOL)? (Click here to read it.) When there’s an error on this document and your shipment isn’t calculated correctly, you might get hit with an unanticipated accessorial charge. The good news about administrative charges is that they’re the most easily avoided — be sure to always check your paperwork carefully to avoid any mishaps.

2. Delivery. Life happens. Sometimes delivery windows don’t align with projected timetables, and when the delivery window gets missed, alternatives kick into gear. Maybe the driver needs to take an alternate route. Perhaps the shipment must be re-delivered — whatever the cause, this is probably going to cost you extra moolah.

3. Equipment. Is your shipment a unique shape, size, or weight? If so, pay extra close attention to the BOL. You’re probably going to get hit with extra fees due to time added on to correct an issue, as well as the equipment that must be used to move it.

Accessorials: The How

Here’s the thing about accessorials. If you manage the budget for your company, they can be hard to plan for. You’re not always going to find out about these extra fees upfront. When you’re on a tight budget, extra charges can throw your numbers for a loop, and even if you plan for them, it’s challenging to hit the nail on the head in your projections because there are so many factors that play into the accessorial charges. Here’s where it’s beneficial to work with us here at yourLTL for your shipments — as your third party logistics provider, we have a much better idea of the accessorial charges you’re going to incur before you make your shipment. We pride ourselves on transparency, and we use a transportation management system that allows us to more accurately and efficiently quote you on the actual cost of making your shipment.

Top Accessorial Charges: A Deeper Dive

We’ll help you be as prepared as you can be — so you know what costs to expect — when it comes to accessorials. 

Here are the top 5:

1. Limited Access/Residential Delivery. When your shipment needs to be dropped off in a residential area or one that has limited access (like a hospital or church, for example), depending on what kind of truck it’s on, it may be a logistical challenge.

How to avoid it: Be sure to specify the drop-off ahead of time to avoid the headache.

2. Over-Length Freight. If you have an unusually long shipment, you may get charged an accessorial fee to accommodate for the size. Many carriers have an over-length minimum charge, so even if your shipment is just slightly over, you’ll have to pay.

3. Re-Weigh. If your shipment ends up being heavier than expected, you may get charged.

How to avoid it: Be sure to provide accurate dimensions ahead of time to avoid accessorial charges.

4. Sort/Seg. If your shipment that has already been palletized needs to be broken up and redistributed, you better believe it’s going to cost you.

5. Liftgate. When your shipment arrives at its final destination and there’s not a proper loading dock to accept it, a liftgate may be necessary to remove the shipment from the truck.

How to avoid it: Specify from the start if a liftgate will be needed to avoid extra charges.

Clear as mud? We thought so. It’s always a puzzle when you’re shipping LTL freight. Thankfully, when you ship with us, you’re connected to an intricate system of experienced carriers to choose from. And you can always call us with questions — we’re committed to transparency and providing you with the best solutions to all of your shipping problems. Ready to get a quote? Call 855.218.7LTL (7585) today.