LTL shipping, being an industry that has so many moving parts, can be challenging at times, even for those who already have the experience. One of the most challenging aspects of being a shipper has to do with laying the necessary groundwork before shipping even begins. This means that you should know what you’re doing so you can avoid unnecessary errors that cost time, money and even your reputation when your shipment fails to arrive on time.
Of the many things that can go wrong, two of the most common (yet easily avoidable) errors are re-classes and re-weighs. Your business will go a lot smoother by simply avoiding these two.
Knowing what class your shipment falls under is a crucial part of your business because this is the basis for how much your shipping charges will be. And determining the correct class number of your freight is the first step towards ensuring a smooth shipping process — no delays caused by the need to re-class, and no surprise charges caused by additional fees.
As designated by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA), there are 18 freight classification (NMFC) categories ranging from class 50 (the least expensive class) to Class 500 (the most expensive class). There are 4 factors that determine LTL Freight Class: density, stowability, handling requirements and liability. Basically, freight is more expensive if it is less dense; if it’s difficult to stow, handle or transport; and if it’s dangerous, hazardous or valuable.
To avoid costly re-class charges, a shipper should first and foremost, know the characteristics of the products being shipped. Think about it — how can you classify something correctly if you don’t know what it is you’re classifying?
Second and of equal importance, a shipper should know and understand what the different freight classes are. It may sound simple enough, but it’s really not because the NMFC system can be confusing, even to the most experienced shippers, and especially to the new ones. It can never be stressed enough: identifying the correct NMFC number and its corresponding freight class is an essential part of obtaining the appropriate freight charge. Conversely, incorrectly identifying your shipment is a sure way to get slapped with higher freight charges.
A Re-weigh occurs when the weight reflected in the Bill of Lading is different from the weight shown on the carrier’s weighing scale. Re-weighs are done at the carrier’s discretion, which means it can happen at any terminal the shipment passes through. More often than not, a re-weigh results in additional charges for the shipper.
To avoid costly re-weigh charges, a shipper should always make sure of the following:
- All weights indicated on the Bill of Lading should be exact weights, and not approximations or estimations.
- The weight of the packaging should be included in the total weight reflected on the Bill of Lading.
- In case a re-weigh does occur and the shipper wants to dispute it, he/she should have documentation or a copy of manufacturer specifications that can prove the original weight of the item.
Carriers will always check if there are discrepancies between what you declare about your shipment, and what they actually see. They will do it more than once just to be sure. Don’t give them a reason to charge you with additional fees. Always make sure that what you indicate in your Bill of Lading is exactly what you are shipping – nothing more, nothing less. This is the only way you’ll be able to avoid the unnecessary cost of misinformation. Contact us with any questions you may have regarding LTL freight classifications.