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The Bill of Lading

An incomplete bill of lading can make your freight charges significantly higher.

The bill of lading is probably the most important document associated with motor carrier shipping. The three main purposes of a bill of lading are to act as evidence of a contract of carriage, document of title to goods shipped, and receipt of goods shipped. Many shippers underestimate just how important it is to thoroughly and completely fill out one of these documents; neglecting to include certain information may cause freight costs to rise significantly.

A Uniform Straight Bill of Lading is a standard bill of lading template used by a carrier or shipper. They all contain the same general information. These documents include a section describing the shipment characteristics like: Handling Units, Pieces, Hazardous Materials Information, Description of Articles, Weight, Class or Rate, and Cube or dimensions. With LTL shipping in particular, all of these characteristics can be extremely important. Many NMFC items include different sub items or groups which are based on such factors as package type, density, dimensions, or hazardous materials type. A failure to include the necessary information will often lead to the application by the carrier of the highest class under the applicable NMFC item.

Another essential piece of information included on bills of lading relates to freight payment responsibility. While some bills of lading state that freight charges are automatically prepaid unless indicated as collect, other bills of lading state the opposite. Some bill of lading types do not state a default manner of freight payment; in this case, payment responsibility will be based on the carrier’s rules tariff which typically makes the consignee responsible for all freight charges.

Additionally, most bills of lading include an area for the shipper to indicate the released value of the items shipped. This area is often overlooked by shippers, and the consequences may be costly. Certain NMFC items contain sub items which are based on the released value of an item. A failure to indicate the released value will usually result in the application by the carrier of the highest class found under the NMFC item which applies to the product shipped.  Ask your Fenichey freight professional for advice and costs of additional insurance in matters like this.

Certain accessorial charges are required to be requested in writing on the bill of lading, such as protect from freezing service. In order to ensure that the service is carried out, many carriers require that a certain phrase be indicated on the bill of lading in a certain way or in a specific area. Liftgate service often needs to be specifically requested on the bill of lading. These services may be requested after the bill of lading has been issued or at the time of delivery according to the carriers rules tariff.

The information a shipper provides on a bill of lading can make a huge impact on freight charges. So how can you protect your company from class, freight payment responsibility, and accessorial charge errors? Include as much information as is available on your bills of lading and let Fenichey review your freight bills.

Every missing piece of information has the potential to cost you extra. Let Fenichey protect you from these extra costs with our freight auditing program. We are bill of lading experts and will utilize all possible information in order to ensure recovery of overcharged funds.

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