Tools carriers use to determine rebills
Who Issues Rebills?
Due to the complexity and precision involved in LTL shipping, rebills are a reasonably common occurrence in the LTL industry.
Rebills, also known as ad-bills, are billing adjustments that can occur in LTL freight shipping for a variety of reasons, but they all result in charges added to the original carrier quote. Rebills are determined and issued by the carrier that is transporting the goods. Shippers who work with a 3PL provider to obtain freight quotes and manage their shipments are sometimes under the impression that rebills come from their 3PL. This is not true. 3PLs never handle the actual LTL shipment and instead are relying on the information provided by the shipper to obtain a quote from a carrier and billing the customer on behalf of the carrier.
The carrier handles the shipment from pickup to delivery and determines if additional services were required that were not initially indicated at the time of the quote. Misrepresentations of a shipment’s weight, dimensions, or description, unnecessary delays in loading or unloading, or any other special delivery requirements necessary to complete a shipment can all result in rebill adjustments made by the carrier to the final invoice.
How Do Carriers Determine Rebills?
In the past, carriers did not have the time to check and make sure every shipment matched the information provided for the original quote. Instead of weighing and measuring each shipment to ensure information was accurate, carriers would look to find obvious discrepancies or take a sample of shipments to check, so many inaccurately weighted or classed shipments would slip through the cracks.
Today, with the advent and implementation of various freight technologies, the percentage of shipments checked against the information provided on their bills of lading is nearing 100%. The ubiquity of warehouse scaling technologies, dimensionalizers, and automatic billing software have made getting away with a few inaccurate details nearly impossible for shippers, and more often than not, if the wrong information is provided, a rebill will be issued.
What Technologies Do Carriers Use to Check LTL Shipments for Inaccuracies?
Most carriers have invested in cutting-edge technologies to determine what rebills need to be added to shipments. Freight costing has long been a challenge in the industry, and carriers operating on thin margins rely on accurate freight data to maintain efficiency and profitability. The good news is that the cost of many of these technologies is going down, and smaller to mid-sized shippers can now take advantage of them as well to ensure they have the most accurate information possible with which to obtain a quote. This benefits both shippers and carriers, as carriers are not losing money on incorrectly billed shipments, and shippers are avoiding unexpected surcharges added to their freight bills. Here are some of the technologies carriers are using to check the weight, measurements, and class of a shipment in seconds.
Forklift scales provide a continuous means of collecting freight data while minimizing operational downtime. Forklift scales integrate warehouse production and data management into one motion, allowing carriers to lift, weigh, record, and move a shipment at once. Forklift scales consist of a scale unit bolted onto the forklift carriage that utilizes electronic weight sensors to record accurate weights, even when the forklift is in motion or the pallet is off-center. This piece of equipment has allowed carriers to gather precise weight information for nearly all shipments without sacrificing efficiency.
Dimensionalizers are weight and volume measuring devices for measuring three-dimensional or cube-shaped objects such as boxes, parcels, cartons, pallets, or packages. Dimensionalizers run on automated systems that scan the weight and dimensions of an object in seconds using laser sensors, removing the possibility of human error and calculating shipping rates quickly and efficiently. While dimensionalizers have been used in parcel service for decades, the equipment has only become common in LTL in the last 8-9 years. Using dimensionalizers in freight terminals has allowed carriers to scan nearly every shipment that passes through their doors, cross-reference the information with the digital bill of lading (BOL) to determine any discrepancies, and issue rebills to shippers automatically.
Automatic Rebill Software
These days, any piece of equipment used to gather information about a shipment will automatically record that information and store it. Shipping software is then used to create a complete shipment profile for nearly every piece of cargo that comes through a carrier’s transit hub. Often, that same software is programmed to automatically check a shipment’s real-time information against what is on the shipper’s paperwork and add rebills to the final invoice.
Understanding what the most common extra charges are is extremely important so that you can forecast your logistics expenses accurately. Here is a list of the most common extra fees and LTL Accessorials, along with a few insights into each one of them that might be of interest.
- Weight and Inspection Fee
This fee is added when a carrier inspects or reweighs a shipment and discovers a difference in the weight or freight class noted on the BOL. The shipping industry is heading to more density-based tariffs and dimensioners are allowing carriers to double check weight and dimensions much easier with the help of new technology.
- BOL Correction
When an incorrect BOL is used, either at the point of pick-up or before pick-up, a correction on the BOL must be made and a fee is charged. For this reason, you should plan in advance and make sure the pick-up location is informed and has the correct BOL.
- Hazardous Material Fee
As implied, this extra fee is added to any LTL shipment that contains hazardous chemicals or substances. For these shipments it is critically important to have all of your documents in order to avoid delays at terminals. Any delay will end up adding more dollars to your freight bill. As a tip, always have on hand the correct documentation (i.e. Dangerous Goods Declaration DGD, IMO) when quoting so that you don’t find any surprises once your shipment is out of your control.
- Detention Fee
The current truck driver shortage has become a critical issue in the industry. It has become increasingly harder for trucking companies to hire truck drivers. For this reason, carriers have become stricter in billing detention fees when driver exceeds a free time period. That fee can vary depending on the company, but it is usually applied after 30 minutes.
- Appointment Fees
LTL shipments should be scheduled with a two – hour window minimum before it is expected to be picked up. The warehouse crew will follow the first come, first serve rule. Sometimes warehouses require pickup or delivery appointments and its mandatory for the drivers to do everything possible to arrive on time, carriers have a surcharge when these appointments are required.
- Redelivery Fees
Redelivery charges occur when the driver attempts to deliver a shipment but is not able to successfully deliver. Failed delivery attempts usually happen when the drop off location is closed, or a delivery appointment was required and was not set. It also occurs when the driver must leave the delivery location because the waiting time was reached, and he must make other deliveries.
- Reconsignment Fee
Plans can change and shipping is not the exception; a reconsignment fee is billed when a shipment that is in transit is re-directed from one delivery location to another. This surcharge can vary depending on how far one location is from the other.
- Limited Access Fee
If your shipment needs to be picked up or delivered to locations that are hard to reach and/or require smaller trucks, a limited access fee may be charged. These hard to reach locations could be schools, prisons, military bases, convention centers, construction sites, airports, ocean docks, wharfs, or piers. If you address this detail when quoting, you can limit your expense.
- Lift Gate Delivery/Pick-up Fee:
If your shipment is being picked up or delivered to a location without a dock, a lift gate fee is charged. A lift gate would allow the driver to lift and lower your shipment from the ground to the truck and vice versa. It’s a best practice to avoid this headache and extra expense by addressing this issue when quoting.
- Residential Delivery/Pick-Up Fee:
Deliveries or pick-ups at residential areas are also considered a special expense since LTL is assumed to be dock-to-dock shipping. Residential pick-up or delivery most likely requires trucks with lift gates to load or unload the shipment.
- Tradeshow pick-up/delivery:
A special expense is charged when your shipment is delivered or picked up from an event like a convention, exhibition, or tradeshow. When quoting this type of service, be sure to inform your carrier in advance because exhibiting companies will usually have specific receiving or delivery hours. If these hours affect the wait time of the carrier, you will end up paying for it with extra charges on your invoice. Carriers usually bill this charge as an accessorial.
- Excess Length Fee:
An excess length fee will vary depending on your carrier. As a general rule, this fee is applied to any shipment over 8 feet in length. It is important to be aware of the correct dimensions of the shipment so that you receive an accurate quote and there will be less surprises with your shipping invoice.
SO HOW CAN I SAVE MY COMPANY FROM UNEXPECTED FEES?
A smart shipper should be constantly looking for cost-effective solutions to manage their logistics needs. Establishing procedures to decrease extra costs in the shipping process has become a priority for most companies.
The most common procedure for getting an LTL freight quote is part of the issue. Most often, the initial price quoted by a carrier or 3PL for an LTL shipment is a base line price. A base line price reflects only the cost of shipping the freight from point A to point B. There are no potential accessorial fees added. Again shippers should know why it’s important to be as transparent as possible when quoting so that your provider can put together a quote for you that will uncover any potential accessorial fees. Inform your provider about all pick-up and drop-off specific locations, loading and unloading situations, important timeframes for pick-up and delivery, and any other special requirements you may have.
IF I CAN’T PREVENT EXTRA EXPENSES, HOW CAN I MINIMIZE THEM?
You may not be able to dodge every extra expense, but you can mitigate the risk and manage some of these costs. When you are charged for accessorials, examine the root cause of the charge to see if you can see any patterns. If you are being consistently charged for the same thing, you may be able to prevent those expenses by changing to other mode of shipping that isn’t affected in the same way.
WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE SURE I GET THE CORRECT RATE FOR MY LTL SHIPMENT?
The following checklist will help you receive accurate rates for your LTL shipments and avoid the headache of extra fees. It’s really easy. Just send all of this information to your provider when quoting:
- Number of handling units
- Total weight of the shipment (and weight by pallet if possible)
- Dimensions (L x W x H) per handling unit
- Confirm if freight is stackable or not
- Origin and delivery zip code
- Any known accessorial fees or special needs for pick-up or delivery
The more you understand the complexity of the industry, the more accurately you can forecast your costs. Bringing in an expert company to handle your LTL shipments can help make your job easier.
By contacting PNGLC, you’ll leverage the experience, state-of-the-art technology and dedicated customer service team to handle your loads from start to finish so you can ship with confidence every time.