Freight Shipping Weight: What You Need to Know

Freight Shipping Weight: What You Need to Know

Freight shipping weight is a pretty serious business. We’ve all most likely told a little white lie about how much we weigh, and most people forgive us for not divulging our exact weight. However, when it comes to shipping, things aren’t so forgiving, and getting the correct weight is essential. Much of what we might know or assume about weight is associated with parcel shipping. We’ve learned through parcels that the more a shipment weighs, the more it will cost. In the freight world, it’s entirely different. More factors go into freight shipping weight. Here’s what you need to know about freight weight to help you avoid costly billing adjustments.

How Carriers Determine Freight Shipping Weight


One of the most important things you need to know about freight shipping weight is how less-than-truckload (LTL) freight carriers measure freight weight. LTL freight is shipped long distances in large trucks that rely on weight for stability. So, there is greater importance for the relationship between space and weight than on the back of a parcel truck with smaller boxes.

This relationship is measured as a shipment’s density, which is a significant element in determining a shipment’s freight class. Freight class is a classification system that ensures shippers get fair pricing when shipping freight. The higher the shipment density, the lower the freight class, and vice-versa. And the lower the freight class, the lower the shipping costs.

Density is an essential factor in freight class, based on vital freight measurements like weight.

Here are some real-world freight class examples:

  • Cast iron wood-burning stove — Freight class = 85 (inexpensive)

  • Unassembled couch — Freight class = 250

  • Box filled with ping pong balls — Freight class = 500 (the highest there is)

How to Avoid Billing Adjustments


Incorrectly stated weight is the #1 reason for billing adjustments on shipments booked through FreightCenter. Freight carriers weigh and inspect every shipment they handle, so inconsistencies with what you might report as the weight on the Bill of Lading (BOL) or your LTL freight quote and what the carrier reports will result in a billing adjustment after your shipment is fulfilled.

If you understate the weight, the carrier will determine the cost of your shipment per pound and then multiply the difference between the understated weight and the correct weight in pounds by the price per pound figure. Let’s say the bill of lading FreightCenter prepares for you says your shipment weighs 400 pounds, and the invoiced amount is $800. Your freight is shipping for $2 per pound on a cost-per-pound basis. The carrier weighs the shipment and discovers it weighs 520 pounds. That means the bill will be adjusted for the 120-pound difference multiplied by $2, which totals $240.

A $240 adjustment for the corrected weight isn’t so bad, but it doesn’t stop there. There are additional fees for weighing the shipment, making adjustments, processing, etc. Because of this, a $240 mistake now costs you more than $400.

What You Can Do


If you are a frequent shipper or one that ships more than three times a year, it’s worth owning a freight scale. The example above points out that the cost of investing in an industrial freight scale will pay off compared to what the billing adjustments for a few wrong weights could cost you. If you are a one-time shipper, you’ll want to take a different route to find your exact shipping weight. Here are two ways you can get that weight right.

  • Call a nearby junkyard and see if they have a scale you can use for weighing your freight.

  • Contact a freight terminal within driving distance and ask if you can use their scale.

Remember, carriers weigh the entire shipment, including the container, crate, or pallet. It would help if you always weighed your shipment after it had been wholly packaged and palletized. If the contents of the shipment change, reweigh it again.

Get Your Freight Shipping Weight Right with FreightCenter


The moral of this story is that getting the weight correct is key to your shipping satisfaction and cost control. This one component can cost you in the long run if it’s wrong. Here at FreightCenter, we can help you determine your shipping cost and freight class or provide alternative shipping solutions.

Have something to ship? Get started with a free quote today or call us at 800.716.7608.

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