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1. Make sure your items are in fact freight, weighing a total of at least 100 lbs. Once you’re sure of your items’ weight you can classify the shipment. There are a handful of specific freight categories as defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association. Some first-time freight shippers may find this first step to be the most difficult because it’s not always convenient to weigh freight before it gets picked up. There’s always a chance that the driver has to weigh your shipment and any difference could result in what’s known in the industry as a re-bill. A re-bill is a payment owed to the carrier for any weight and freight class discrepancies between actual and what was listed on your bill of lading (BOL). The best way to avoid a re-bill is to have your freight pre-weighed at a freight terminal near you. You can lookup freight terminal locations online by searching for your city and the keyword “freight terminal”. If you ship freight more often, you may want to invest in a freight scale. Freight scales can cost as little as $100 up to thousands of dollars and can be purchased online or through a heavy-duty tool store.
2. Make sure your items are properly boxed, crated or palletized prior to pickup. The more securely your shipment is strapped down or contained, the less likely it will be damaged during shipping. Most carriers won’t pick up shipments that aren’t in compliance with these standards. If you aren’t sure about the packaging requirements for your freight and from your chosen carrier, you should contact your service provider should excel at assisting you every step of the way.
3. In addition to weight and freight class, it’s important to know the pickup and delivery destination for your freight, as well as the overall size or dimensions of your packaged shipment. Some freight shipping service providers may overlook dimension and use only the distance between zip codes to calculate your total cost to ship. To get the most accurate freight quote, have the two addresses (point of pickup and desired destination), weight, freight class and dimensions on hand before you request a quote.
4. Before you enter your shipment details on a freight shipping provider‘s website, make sure you are working with a reputable company that offers expert assistance in case you have additional questions or need one-on-one help from a friendly agent. Make sure your freight provider is licensed and bonded to arrange freight services on behalf of reputable and trustworthy carriers. Look for Motor Carrier (MC) and Department of Transportation (DOT) numbers that identify legitimate service providers. A service provider who doesn’t display their MC or DOT numbers may not have one and may be scams or a sign of a financially-insecure company.
5. Make certain the company is only partnered with top carriers and trucking companies – not all carriers are created equal. Some 3PLs or third-party freight shipping service providers may have only a handful of carrier contracts, which ensures shippers will receive a service with the most value-adds available to them. They also offer the fastest way to search among hundreds of carriers for the fairest balance of price, transit time, equipment options and mode.
And remember, dimensions are important to accurately pinpoint your freight class and optimal mode of transportation. It’s not just about weight and freight class!