3 Alarmingly Easy Ways to Waste Money When Shipping Freight


Like every other aspect of running a business, shipping freight comes with a learning curve. Unfortunately, the freight shipping learning curve can be more expensive than necessary if you’re not careful. A lot of business operators will be surprised to learn about these three ways an alarmingly larger than expected shipping bill can be run up in no time.

Alarm # 1 - Shipping directly with a carrier instead of using a 3PL

One of the most common mistakes made by newbie shippers is to book their shipment directly through a carrier instead of using a 3PL (3rd Party Logistics provider). It’s easy to understand why they make this mistake. We are taught to save money by “cutting out the middle man.” But in the case of shipping freight, a good 3PL like FreightCenter will save you money every time by helping you find the most affordable freight carrier that meets your unique needs.

To help prove this point, one of the logistics experts at FreightCenter ran a quote using two different methods. In one method they called the carrier directly and requested the price they would give to someone who was not a frequent shipper. The other method entailed getting a quote from FreightCenter’s TMS (Transportation Management System)—the same method anyone can use online to get a free freight shipping quote—using the exact same shipping details.

The quote was for shipping from one business to another, loading dock to loading dock. Here are the particulars:

No, that’s not a typo. In this case, going directly to the carrier could cost you more than $1,000.00. How is it possible that a 3PL like FreightCenter can save you 65% on this shipment? The answer is two-fold:

  1. Many businesses reward frequent customers. For freight carriers, 3PLs are very frequent customers. Not only do we ship hundreds of times a day, but we also make it easy for the carriers by making sure the orders are correct and all potential issues are dealt with on our end before we book.
  2. Shipping freight is a fairly complex form of commerce. Carriers like for their job to be as simple as possible. If you make their jobs simpler, they will charge a lot less. That’s why 3PLs enjoy great savings and businesses that ship infrequently do not.

Before you book a shipment directly through a carrier, take a few minutes and get an instant online quote from FreightCenter. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, aggravation and money.

Alarm #2 – Poor accessibility for the carrier on one end of the haul (or both)

You may have noticed that shipping loading dock to loading dock was specified in the above example. This is the easiest (and therefore preferred) way for the carrier to ship. It’s in and out in a snap on both ends. Any other type of access is a pain in the truck.

What if the shipment destination were to someone’s home? That would mean no loading dock, so a truck with a lift gate would have to do the delivery. That would add more than $300 to the bill. If the home happened to be on a small street, then a smaller truck would need to make the delivery. Ca-ching! 

But what if the delivery was to a home business? That’s a business, right? Actually, it’s not in the eyes of the shipping world. Whether or not a facility is considered a place of business or a residence is determined by zoning. If an area is zoned residential, you’ll pay residential (limited access) charges even if the destination is a business. And if the entire block has been rezoned from residential to residential/business, you’ll still pay those limited access charges if the street is narrow and there is no loading dock.

We’re not suggesting that you tell your customers to move their businesses, but we are pointing out that some businesses neglect to find out about access issues and quote a shipping estimate that is at least $300 below what the final bill will be. A trustworthy 3PL, like FreightCenter, will investigate access issues before giving you a final quote. In some cases, depending on access to the delivery location, we might suggest that the recipient picks up the shipment at the freight depot or have delivered to a nearby friendly business. Either of those tactics would eliminate the limited access fees.

Alarm #3 - The pallet is too big

This one is going to sound a little crazy, but it happens from time to time. Freight attached to pallets must cover at least 65% of the surface area of the pallet. If it doesn’t meet that specification, the carrier can charge you for shipping the pallet instead of what’s on the pallet.

While that might not sound so bad, it’s actually very expensive. Freight classifications are based on density. The higher the density, the lower the class (and the lower the cost). Let’s take a look at an example.

Bricks are very dense and have a low freight class of 50 (the lowest class there is). But if you put bricks on a pallet and do not cover at least 65% of the surface area with bricks, the carrier would be within its rights to charge you for shipping the pallet, not the bricks. And with a standard freight class for pallets of 200, you end up paying hundreds of dollars (if not thousands) more—just for using too large a pallet.

This one is easy to avoid. Be aware of the rules. Most of the time a carrier will look the other way when you use too-large shipping pallet, but that one time when they don’t can put a real hurting on your pocketbook. At FreightCenter, our agents can help make sure you are compliant. Just give them the measurements and send a photo of the packaged shipment.

1 easy way to avoid wasting money when shipping freight

If you’ve fallen victim to these three mistakes (or others that have cost you money), you have our sincerest sympathies. Just know that you are not alone in making costly freight shipping errors. Prefer to not do it again?

Next time you have freight to ship, start by getting a quote from FreightCenter. Look for the company that gives you the right combination of technology with a personal touch. The money you don’t waste will make you feel good. The peace of mind you get from a solid business partner is priceless.