What Are LTL Accesorials?
Less than truckload (LTL) accessorials compensate carriers for services and equipment beyond the basics. You can’t prevent all of these charges, but you can take steps to reduce them.
If you want to understand the idea behind LTL accessorials, think about building a house. The builder leverages their volumes to lower costs for items like backsplashes and fixtures, for instance. Most likely, they have also chosen products that are simple to install for added efficiencies and cost savings. But say you don’t like the type of faucet they’ve chosen, or you want to upgrade to a marble backsplash. Each upgrade and change is a departure from the usual; it takes resources and time for the builder to hunt down the products you’re looking for and install them as one-offs. These additional requests and upgrades are going to cost you extra.
This is very similar to the way LTL accessorials work. The LTL carriers measure operating ratios very carefully to understand the profitability of hauling each customer’s freight. When the shipper’s freight characteristics, processes, or equipment requirements go beyond what is considered standard for pickup and delivery, accessorials may be charged to address the inefficiencies it creates for the carrier.
3 Common Types of LTL Accessorials
Definitions and charges for accessorials generally appear in the rules tariff of each LTL carrier and are typically available on their website. Some common types of accessorials that are often brought up for discussion include the following:
- Administrative. Accessorials that occur at the carrier’s terminal as a result of bill of lading (BOL) errors or omissions can slow down transit times and add costs to the shipment. These shipments must be pulled out of transit while they are being corrected and addressed. Shipment verification, reweigh, or inspection are some of the most common charges seen, and they are easily avoidable.Actual gross shipment weight, class, and National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) number are key components to a clean LTL BOL. Most carriers allow leniency of about 15 lbs weight variance from what their scales show for weight compared to what the BOL states. NMFC numbers, along with class, properly identify a commodity’s transportability; when left off the BOL, the carrier may apply the highest class available for that commodity.
- Delivery. This category of LTL accessorial occurs while the shipment is out for delivery. The most common fee—redelivery—occurs when the carrier attempts to deliver and the consignee turns them away for any reason, meaning that the carrier was unable to unload the shipment. Frequently, redelivery fees occur because the consignee requires a delivery appointment, but the BOL doesn’t indicate that an appointment is required, so the carrier did not schedule one. Redelivery charges can also occur if the driver must leave to meet their next appointment before they can be loaded or unloaded. This is typically because the driver was waiting at the shipper, supplier, or consignee location. Due to the nature of their business model, LTL carriers can rarely afford to wait for more than 30 minutes.Another delivery accessorial, Metro Pickup/Delivery, occurs when the LTL carrier must drive around in a major metro area. Bad traffic, tolls, one-way or narrow streets, tight receiving docks that can only accommodate straight truck deliveries, and other factors can cause longer pickup or delivery times than expected. It can also take drivers extra time to deliver to remote locations like the Florida Keys or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. For metro or remote pick-ups or deliveries, carriers charge this accessorial to compensate for the extra time required.
- Equipment. This type of LTL accessorial encompasses any additional equipment needed for delivery such as lift gates, forklifts, or pallet jacks. Carriers typically have a limited quantity of these types of equipment at each terminal and must carefully schedule them for daily deliveries. If the shipper fails to advise the carrier in advance of any equipment requirements on their BOL, the shipment will go out for delivery and have to be returned to the terminal until equipment becomes available. In that case, the shipper not only pays this accessorial, but most likely will be charged redelivery fees.
LTL accessorials are not necessarily a bad thing. Shippers who slow the driver or the transportation, administration, or back office processes are appropriately charged such fees so that carriers can be reimbursed for lost productivity. Ideally, this allows for competitive line haul rates for the shippers or shipments that don’t require accessorials.
How to Lower the Odds of Being Charged LTL Accessorials
You cannot prevent every accessorial, but you can mitigate and better manage some of them. Set a reminder to review each carrier’s rules or rate tariff quarterly, since charges can change at any time, without prior notice. When LTL accessorials occur, look for the root cause of the charge to see if there are patterns. If you encounter many of the same type of accessorial, you may be able to prevent them by considering shifting to other modes that aren’t always affected with the same accessorials, such as LTL consolidation.
Learn additional tips for bringing operational efficiency to your carrier relationships and avoiding accessorial costs.