Unlocking Lower Parcel Spend Through Invoice Auditing

by LJM Group

Actual Shipping Charges Compared to What You Charge Your Customer

Companies across the globe suffer from a shipping problem; they underestimate their true shipping costs. This problem is severe, contributing to 35% higher parcel spend. Such charges lead to higher costs on UPS/FedEx invoices hampering profit margins. At the same time, the major Carriers have made their rates public and easy-to-access, so what goes wrong?

The answer to that question lies in the conventional way that shippers manage shipping, using a TMS and nothing more. To stop hemorrhaging money, shippers need to understand why only using a TMS is not enough, and through TruCost℠ Reporting, they can ensure their actual shipping costs reflect what their customers pay.

Why Can’t Shippers Know the Exact Rates Before Sending an Item to the Carrier?

While a TMS provides instantaneous access to Carrier rates within the contracted network, mistakes still happen. While the TMS may provide the shipping cost for the specified packages, errors on the part of shippers, such as inaccurate weights, wrong classification, failure to consider external factors, and even the risk for a missed delivery, remain. The only way to honestly know an item’s delivery cost is to wait until delivery occurs. Unfortunately, this is an impractical approach to managing parcel.

What About Accessorials?

Accessorials refer to charges added onto an invoice after the original shipment tender. Accessorials and surcharges reflect two principles of shipping: inaccurate shipment data and fine-print policies. Common surcharges include peak surcharges, fuel surcharges and even export surcharges. While Carriers announce surcharges before they go into effect, the information does not always carry over into a TMS. A lack of surcharge-inclusive data within the TMS is also more prevalent among those using outdated or limited function systems.

Take this example, published by Cerasis. LTL freight surcharges rose nearly 7.2 cents in Fall 2018. While diesel costs continued to climb, Carriers subsidized the cost of higher fuel by increasing surcharges. Even new regulations may have a similar effect on surcharges. The most pressing actual surcharges of today include those affecting shipments between the U.S. and China, as well as peak season fees.

What Types of Extra Fees Do Shippers Pay?

Fuel and demand charges are only a fraction of the full lineup of fees that may be assessed for a shipment. Added, after-the-fact charges amount to 35% of the original shipment cost and include:

  • Residential delivery
  • Dimensional weight versus actual weight
  • Additional handling
  • Address corrections or rerouting
  • Installation of new items—a part of specialized logistics known as white-glove services
  • Removal of old items
  • Rescheduled delivery for items that are not ‘just leave on doorstep’
  • Refusal of delivery

The list goes on and on, and Carriers will add the charges without blinking. Worsening the problem, some Carrier fees are invoiced the week after the original shipping costs are invoiced. This leads to confusion in determining which charges were added and for which shipments.

Hold UP! Aren’t Carriers on the Hook for Something?

Yes. Carriers play a role in the added expenses of shipping parcel more than just adding on extra charges. They may overbill for shipments. While instances of overbilling may seem rare, consider this statistic. Between 1% and 2% of all Carrier invoices are rated incorrectly. Double billing is another issue. Although it is possible to double bill an invoice accidentally, the real cause goes back to international shipping standards.

If a shipper uses a third-party, such as a 3PL, freight forwarder, or broker, the middleman is on the hook for freight invoice charges. However, the middleman does not usually get paid at the time of service, so until the shipper pays the invoice, third parties may actually hold off on paying the Carrier. Such interactions have slowly retreated into the annals of shipping history, especially as new legislation has given more power to third parties. With that in mind, there is nothing that prevents the Carrier from billing the shipper independently of the third party. Now, two bills exist, and the shippers’ accounts payable department completes payment for both. Thus, the issue comes to fruition and leads to higher costs.

What Can Shippers Do to Guarantee Their Actual Costs Reflect Customer-Paid Costs?

The path to ensuring customer costs equal shipper costs can be difficult. Shippers need to audit invoices. Unfortunately, the cost for identifying and recapturing payment for errors sits around $11 per error. This makes it difficult to justify, but new services, such as outsourced accounting, auditing and TruCost℠ Reporting, can help find and recapture lost revenue at a fraction of the cost of an internal auditing program.

Avoid the Hassle by Partnering with LJM Group

Instead of hoping to recover higher-than-expected charges, let someone else do the work for you. Outsource to a reputable partner such as LJM Group, for parcel invoice accounting and auditing services. If you’re still not convinced that a problem exists, allow us to prove that you’re paying more than what your customers do.

Send us a file containing a full list of your shipping costs, based on what you believe each shipment costs. Include the amount you charged your customer for shipping those items, as well. LJM Group will review the information and provide you a detailed single line per shipment report with actual shipping charges versus what you believed the shipping charges to be. Next, we will total all Carrier charges for each shipment, showing how your organization is losing money with its current shipping practices.

The easiest way to learn more about our TruCost℠ Reporting service and request such a report is right here. Or contact us by calling 631.844.9500 or by emailing

Submit your request for a complete FREE Carrier Contract Rate Analysis here.

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