The ABCs of LTL Accessorials: When, What & How to Avoid

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If you’ve shipped LTL before, you’re probably very familiar with the “A” word: Accessorials.

And if you’re new to LTL shipping, you’re going to be familiar with it very soon.

While they can pop up in any mode, they’re especially common in LTL, and most often are not negotiable in this mode.

Want to know the most common LTL freight accessorials, why they occur and whether you might be able to minimize or avoid them?

Read our LTL accessorial glossary of 15 terms you should know and approach your next LTL freight quote with a professional-grade understanding.

 

Why Are Accessorials More Common in LTL Shipping?

Like many of the differences between LTL and TL shipping, the frequency of accessorial fees in LTL starts with the LTL carrier business model.

They're not just doing it to nickel-and-dime you. 

LTL accessorials
 

Why LTL Carriers Charge Accessorials
  • LTL carriers maintain incredibly dense freight networks that move shipments between multiple facilities en route from their origin to their destination.
  • These carriers stay profitable — and keep costs down for shippers — by making as many as 15+ stops per day across all their pick-ups and deliveries.
  • Because fleets like this are complex to manage, LTL carriers are particularly sensitive to anything that might decrease their efficiency and cause them to miss pick-ups or deliveries.


LTL carriers also generate strong enough operational data from their fleet to know precisely how much each delay will cost them.

Because time is money for LTL carriers, they will not hesitate to charge for any factors that impede the movement of freight through their network.

If your LTL freight that has any non-standard operational needs, carriers will offset the added operational expense by charging you in the form of an accessorial.

 

Are LTL Accessorials Bad?

Generally speaking, no they’re not.

It’s true that some accessorial fees occur when you’ve made a mistake — reclassification and reconsignment, for instance, typically come down to shipper error.

These can be a nuisance for inexperienced LTL shippers.


A Better Way to Think About LTL Accessorials

It’s much more useful to think of accessorials as a way of getting on the same page with your carrier about the requirements for successfully shipping your freight on time and damage free.

Accessorials help LTL carriers deliver the specialized services your freight needs.

And when you communicate those needs clearly up front, your carrier should be able to move your shipments with no unpleasant or costly surprises.

 

Do All LTL Carriers Charge the Same Fees for Accessorials?

No.

A given carrier might charge less for lift gates than others if they have more of them in their fleet but charge more for private residence deliveries, depending on their appetite to perform these types of services, for instance.

For this reason, the example fees we’ve listed below are more general guidelines from our experience than hard and fast ranges. Your carrier should be able to inform you up front what the fees will be for the specific services you need.

If you’re booking through a third-party logistics company (3PL), they should also be able to provide this information about the carriers in their network.

Cost-Saving Bonus for Using a 3PL:

Sometimes 3PLs/brokers have contractual agreements in place with LTL carriers  to potentially lower the cost of accessorials passed on to you.

 

LTL Accessorials From A to T

Here's a list of the most common accessorials you'll encounter in LTL, what they are, why you're charged for them, and how you can mitigate your expenses. 

 

Advance Notification

What is it?
When the carrier has to notify the consignee that they are on their way before making a delivery.

Why are you charged for it?
Because delivery may be delayed (and your freight unable to be cleared from the LTL carrier’s network) if timely contact cannot be made with the consignee.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
Staff your facilities with your most frequent delivery windows in mind so notification is not necessary.

What you can expect to pay: $10-$30

 

Appointment Required

What is it?
When pick-up or delivery can only occur at a specific time with an appointment made beforehand.

Why are you charged for it?
LTL carriers do not guarantee pick-up and delivery times. They target windows of time instead to account for uncertainties within their complex operations.

When they have to meet a tighter delivery timeline than normal, dispatch has to route the driver in a way that may not be the most efficient.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
Stay in close contact with your carrier or broker so you know when a delivery or pick-up should occur and you can ensure someone is there to meet it without an appointment.

Explore other modes for freight with urgent or specific time constraints.

What you can expect to pay: $10-50

 

Detention

What is it?
The same definition as in truckload shipping — when a driver has to wait longer than normal to unload freight at the point of delivery.

Rules around detention are much stricter in LTL — some carriers may start charging at 15 minutes after arrival, but most drivers will simply leave (resulting in an even higher redelivery fee).

Why are you charged for it?
It wastes a driver’s time and can have a cascading effect on later deliveries on that driver’s schedule. Again, keep in mind that drivers are making 15-20 stops every day.

The loss of precious minutes waiting to unload will result in missed pickups later in the day.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
Detention typically occurs at either large distribution centers without a drop trailer agreement or at small facilities that can be backed up.

If either of these sounds like your facilities, take the necessary staffing or operational steps to avoid these situations and move LTL carriers to the front of the line when possible.

What you can expect to pay: Can range from $50 to as high as $1000 if you get an LTL driver stuck in your line with no way of exiting for several hours.

Drivers will usually leave before they even hit detention and try another day, but it can be very pricey if you get them stuck.

 

Guaranteed Delivery

What is it?
When the carrier guarantees that they will meet the estimated transit time after picking up your freight.

Why are you charged for it?
LTL carriers do not guarantee delivery for all freight due to their complex operations in which slight delays are common as freight moves along multiple legs between their facilities. However, guaranteed delivery is a common service request by LTL shippers.

When you ask for it, you’re asking a carrier to prioritize your freight over non-guaranteed freight to give yours the best possible chance of making the promised transit time.

You’re paying a slight premium for the added labor and route planning required to meet your guarantee.

What you can expect to pay: Usually reflected as a percentage of the total freight charge

 

Inside Pick-Up/Delivery

What is it?
When the driver is required to bring freight inside a building at the point of delivery or retrieve it from inside at the point of pick-up.

Why are you charged for it?
It is work outside the normal scope of the driver’s duties. It typically also includes the use of a lift gate.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
This fee often is added at the point of delivery because recipients (shop owners, for instance), do not realize it incurs a charge if they ask for it.

Communicate clearly with consignees that this will be an additional charge.

What you can expect to pay: $50-125

 

Inspection

What is it?
When the weight or class of your freight does not match the information you provided on the BOL according to an LTL carrier inspection.

Why are you charged for it?
You will be charged the increase for the change in weight and class in your freight charges, but an inspection fee is charged in addition by most carriers.

The inspection fee is charged due to the time it takes to inspect the freight and update paperwork.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
Double and even triple check all weight measurements.

Make sure you are classing your freight correctly and including the NMFC code associated. If you need help classing your freight, reach out to your sales representative.

What you can expect to pay: $10-30 in addition to updated freight charges

 

Lift Gate

What is it?
Specialized equipment at the rear of the truck that can move freight from the trailer down to the ground. It’s used for pick-up or delivery locations that do not have a loading dock.

It most commonly occurs for small businesses, restaurants, residences and other locations that are not warehouses.

Why are you charged for it?
Not all trucks in an LTL fleet are equipped with lift gates. If you require one, your carrier will need to make sure your freight is on a specific truck, and dispatch will have to create more complicated routes for you to ensure the delivery truck has a liftgate for your stop.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
If your delivery location does not have a dock, weigh the liftgate fee against renting/buying a forklift. A liftgate will usually be cheaper and is a great offered service.

What you can expect to pay: $50-125

 

Limited Access Pick-Up/Delivery

What is it?
When pick-up or delivery occurs at a consumer location or otherwise difficult area to maneuver (school, church, government building, storage facility, construction site, etc.) rather than a shipping facility.

Why are you charged for it?
Deliveries and pick-ups at these locations are time consuming. It can be difficult to park the truck and figure out where and how to unload freight.

It also sometimes requires special equipment to make it into tight spaces.

What you can expect to pay: $75-150

 

Oversize/Overlength

What is it?
Occurs when your freight is larger than a length predetermined by the carrier (usually 8’ for LTL).

Why are you charged for it?
If your freight is non-standard in size, it impacts the carrier’s ability to fit additional freight in their trailer.

This charge has risen in both cost and frequency since 2020 amid pandemic-era direct-to-customer shipping patterns and ongoing capacity issues.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
Spend time and resources refining your packaging process to avoid any unplanned overhang.

What you can expect to pay:
The cost for this fee has risen steeply in the last year, and some carriers are no longer accepting oversize freight at all.

 

Reconsignment

What is it?
When you change the delivery address for your freight after it has already been picked up by the carrier.

Why are you charged for it?
If you inadvertently provide the wrong delivery address, your carrier will need to complete paperwork for your shipment a second time with the correct information.

They may also need to reroute your freight, depending on how far apart the two addresses are.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
In some cases, you may be able to minimize the amount you’ll pay for this fee by notifying the carrier as soon as possible.

However, this is really only effective if the incorrect and correct delivery addresses are very close to one another (say in the same zip code).

What you can expect to pay: $50-100, however your freight charges will be updated according to the new route, so you can expect higher charges if your freight is going to a higher cost location than the original address.

 

Redelivery

What is it?
When a delivery is unsuccessful on the first try and the driver has to return on a later day. This can occur for a number of reasons — if there’s no one at the facility to receive the shipment or if there is too much congestion at the facility, for instance.

Why are you charged for it?
Any delay is grounds for being charged an accessorial in LTL shipping, and an entirely missed delivery opportunity is certainly a major delay.

Also, if your freight is unable to be delivered, it continues to take up space on the truck that could have been used for another delivery.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
Pay close attention to any updates from your carrier or broker regarding your delivery window to be sure it can be executed.

What you can expect to pay: $50-150 (however it can be much higher than this for volume LTL shipments)

 

Residential Delivery

What is it?
Delivery to a home address. This is similar to limited access delivery, but it is listed separately and is worth calling out on its own because it is a major issue for today’s frequent direct-to-consumer shipping.

Why are you charged for it?
Residential deliveries can be challenging to execute, and they often require specific smaller trucks to navigate narrow residential streets.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
Communicate ahead of time about direct-to-consumer shipments with your carriers to help them prepare adequately.

What you can expect to pay: $75-$150

 

Sort/Seg

What is it?
When a driver needs to break up the product on one pallet and move it onto one or more new pallets.

Why are you charged for it?
It is extra work beyond the normal duties of a driver.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
This is a common service for grocery store distribution centers. If you are shipping to one of these locations, make this known to your carrier ahead of time and include it in the BOL.

What you can expect to pay: The cost is based directly on the piece count or weight involved.

 

Trade Show Pick-Up/Delivery

What is it?
When freight is being delivered to or picked up from an expo center for a trade show.

Why are you charged for it?
Deliveries to and pick-ups from trade shows are on a very tight schedule and require extra effort and planning on the part of your carrier.

Trade show move-in dates are often on weekends, which are outside of normal LTL hours.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
Provide as much lead time as possible for trade show freight so your carrier does not have to scramble to get it delivered on time.

What you can expect to pay: $75-150

 

Truck Order Not Used

What is it?
When you’ve requested a pick-up date with your carrier but your freight is not ready when they arrive.

Why are you charged for it?
The driver had to make a stop and waste time that could have otherwise been spend on another pick-up, and they will have to come back the following day.

How can you avoid or reduce it?
Only request pick-ups that you are sure you are going to be ready for. If you’re uncertain at all, communicate with your carrier or broker so a truck is not dispatched when it doesn’t need to be.

What you can expect to pay: $75-150

 

CoyoteGO Makes LTL Accessorials a Breeze

Feel like you’ve mastered all 15 of the terms in this glossary? Ready to put that knowledge to test in your next LTL shipment?

In CoyoteGO®, our digital freight platform, you can easily quote and build LTL shipments with all your accessorials included. Sign up for CoyoteGO today and find out how many headaches this powerful platform can save you.

Sign Up for CoyoteGO

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