Freight Claims Overcharges and Weight Inspections Conspiracy

Posted On 19th December 2018

It used to be common carrier truckers such as YRC would weigh shipments and if they were under weight you would also receive an Inspection Certificate, and possibly a reduction in the charges. Of course, none of us freight payers whether shipper or receiver has received a bill like that for years – now you only get an Inspection Certificate if it is in the carriers’ favor – ie if you shipped more weight than you wrote on the Bill of Lading or purport that you did.

Government Sues YRC

The Department of Justice is suing YRC for overcharges they allege at the Department of Defense was charged for. YRC was at the vanguard of deliberately eliminating (via their computer billing system) any possibility of a credit on a freight invoice due to an overstatement of weights but allowing of course the charges for both the Inspection and weight extra charges due to an understatement of weight or dimensions. 

It would be instructive to review the Tariffs of YRC during this time period to see if they changed their Tariff terms to allow for such a change in billing policies or not. 

Extra Freight Charges

Of course, the shipping community has seen an explosion of extra charges not just on weight but for example for when the carrier has knocked skids out of shape and then the slight dimensional change of 1” on a side can throw off the density calculations and then result in a class upgrade and much higher charges.

We’ve also seen weights be revised upwards but then the Inspector does not revise the class downward with their own new higher density which would happen for that commodity normally.

Moreover, we’ve seen slight dimensional increases which bump the shipment into Cubic Capacity Rule charges or Density Minimum Charges. Read our post “Cubic Capacity Rule/Density Minimum Charges: Common Carrier Handling of Low-Density Product on Larger Shipments

Inspections by Common Carrier

These days when the carriers do inspect, and the result is an increase in volume or weight that pushes the shipment over the cubic capacity rule they do not charge shippers/freight payers their corresponding volume rate or a proportionate increase in charges but often the charge is 3 to 5X the original quote.

In our opinion, that is never justified as usually the actual volume or weight of the shipment is only 10 to 20 percent greater than the quote. Shippers and receivers, by utilizing a proactive 3pl like FreightRun, can appeal to the carrier’s better instincts, ethics, and brain and usually end up with a better, more fair result.  Once the dispute has been elevated to the carrier’s higher management levels, a reasonable solution is usually not far away. 

Solutions to Fight and Win Inaccurate Freight Upcharges

Like most problems, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: head off these problems with better shipping procedures.

For instance, any repeat shipper running a commercial dock should have a skid scale and record every shipment as a matter of course – keeping digital pictures of both the weight and dimensions of the freight (use your cell phone!). 

Some LTL carriers are often using automated systems now so mistakes do happen!, an architectural railings company that manufactures heavy-duty safety railings, closet hardware, and commercial railings weighs each shipment and takes a picture in such a way that you can see the freight and the scale’s readings at the same time.

They also write the measurements – the dimensions – of their freight on every Bill of Lading.  If a common carrier inspects their shipment and challenges the weight, which has happened, the common carrier will and has lost the dispute.

If your products are standard this is even easier – make a copy of your catalog where it lists skid sizes and weights and that can be used if a Carrier bills you an upcharge after an inspection and back it up with pictures of your freight on the scale.

If you have further questions though – ask us here and we will gladly help.