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Acting on Accessorial Costs: A Shipper’s Guide

You negotiate a shipment within budget and send the cargo on its way. All is well until the invoice arrives 10-20% above the initial rate. Unanticipated accessorial charges just threw off the budget and your profits. Adding insult to injury, these fixable costs often happen repeatedly before getting caught. Soon hundreds of dollars turn into several thousand.

According to the Journal of Commerce, surcharges comprise a more significant percentage of overall shipping costs each year. Despite their growing popularity, far too often, accessorial costs arrive unexpectedly. At Langham Logistics, no surcharge goes unquestioned. We reviewed some of the common costs crossing our desks and created this quick guide for acting on accessorial fees.


Detention applies when a carrier is delayed at a shipping/receiving facility for generally longer than two hours. While common with LTL shipments, these charges still deserve some scrutiny. Ensure the carrier arrived within the scheduled appointment window.

Advance Notification (Appointment)

With this charge, the shipper requires the carrier to contact the receiver before making a delivery. Fees for this service may vary by carrier.


Lumpers are third-party companies at sites that assist with cargo loading and unloading for a fee. Carriers pay the lumper directly. If a lumper fee appears on an invoice unexpectedly, request a copy of the lumper receipt from the carrier before paying the charge.

Reclassifications and Reweighs

Knowing freight dimensions, weight, and class is critical for LTL shipments. Incorrect information causes multiple problems. First, the shipment will be reweighed and likely reclassified. This can come with an additional fee. Second, when shipments are reclassified, the freight rate changes. Estimated weights or wrong freight classifications are incredibly costly. Some LTL carriers even incentivize their dock teams to seek out these freight errors. Before getting hit with these charges, ensure your weight is entirely accurate to the pound. Include the pallet in the overall weight and retain a copy of the scale receipt. Avoid reclassifications by working with an expert like Langham Logistics on National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) descriptions and item numbers. Do not guess the description of your freight and do not notate “FAK/Freight of All Kinds” on the bill of lading. Be specific about the commodities. If you are inaccurately assessed these charges, open a dispute with the carrier immediately and be prepared to provide documentation on the weight and product descriptions.

Residential Service

This fee applies when shipping to or from limited-access schools, churches, construction sites and residentials because of the difficulty maneuvering a large truck within a delivery area. Carriers unfamiliar with a shipping/receiving site may assume a worst-case scenario and assess this accessorial cost without researching the location. A quick Google search will give you the answer to combat this charge.

Layover, Redelivery, and Storage

These charges all occur when a driver cannot complete a delivery. When booking a shipment, include if an appointment is required both on the tender and the bill of lading. If the appointment requirement is specified and these charges appear, request proof of the appointment window and arrival times from the carrier.

Truck Order Not Used (TONU) 

Loads or trucks canceled after a pre-determined cut-off time are assessed TONUs. The cancellation window before a TONU applies generally is included in the contract. Before paying a TONU charge, check when the cancellation was made and if it falls outside of the contract allowances.

Unchecked accessorial fees add up quickly. A few extra minutes spent planning a shipment or auditing its invoice can save a company thousands in unnecessary annual expenses. If it is time to act on accessorial costs, Langham Logistics is here to help. Our team of experts stop additional charges before they occur and address them when they do – all before the invoice heads your way. Learn how anything you ship, we can ship better by contacting us today.

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