What Do Your Accessorial Charges Mean

VP of Pricing Services
Todd Polen

What are Accessorial Charges?

In the freight industry, accessorial charges are extra services that go beyond standard service. Common accessorial services include expedited pickups or deliveries, liftgate fees, or delivery to non-commercial destinations such as an airport or residence. You can request the accessorials you need by using Old Dominion’s online tools, such as our LTL rate estimate, or Pickup, or by including them on your Bill of Lading. Not accounting for accessorials accurately can cause delays with your shipment and headaches when you receive your bill. These extra charges can become a nightmare not only for you, but for your freight carrier since it involves additional paperwork, time, and labor.

Common LTL Accessorials include:

  • Liftgate. A liftgate is required when your destination does not have a designated dock. Not all trucks have liftgates, so this must be requested from the start if your shipment needs one.
  • Non-Commercial Deliveries: If you want your shipment delivered to a residence, school, airport, or other non-commercial location, freight carriers often charge a fee because this involves additional labor or resources.
  • Time-Specific Deliveries: If you require a shipment by a certain date or time, a freight carrier may charge a fee to cover the additional labor involved and expedite your shipment. 

Why Accessorial Charges Exist

Prior to the deregulation of the trucking industry in 1980, accessorial charges were created to fairly compensate the carrier for extra labor associated with picking up or delivering freight. The basic premise was the line haul charge was for a “normal” pickup and delivery. Normal was defined as the carrier showing up, loading freight on the truck, and delivering to a dock somewhere. Everyone knew that “extra” meant inside delivery, residential delivery, sort, segregate, and so forth, so charges were implemented on a per hundredweight (cwt) basis to recoup some of those labor costs. They were implemented on a weight basis because in those days, carriers did not have the data they really needed— which is the time the driver is at the stop. The labor cost carriers were trying to recoup was really a time-based charge. This is an example of a legacy-based charge that really doesn’t have a place in the future system of pricing.

The Future of Accessorial Charges 

Here’s what the future should look like: Your pricing includes no more than 20 minutes at delivery. In the event it takes longer than that, you may need to pay more for the driver’s additional time. There need to be scenarios in place to allow for multiple PRO numbers being delivered from different shippers, tolerances established, missed appointments, late deliveries, and so on, but the premise should be if it takes longer than what was agreed upon, the carrier gets paid detention. If it takes less than 20 minutes, there is no accessorial charge. Residential deliveries and liftgate still need to be charged, simply because they take out of route miles, and the cost of putting a liftgate on a truck and maintaining those units every year by the maintenance team.

How Old Dominion Can Help You Avoid Accessorial Fees

We want to help you avoid surprise charges. Often, when you fill out a rate estimate and include accessorials, we include a breakdown of the possible cost your shipment may entail with those charges. It is always a good idea to accurately weigh and measure your shipment before filling out your rate estimate or Bill of Lading (BOL) so that your shipment is not subject to reweighing or remeasuring. This can add additional, often unexpected costs.

Remember that in the end, your price is based on the cube in the truck, time spent at pickup, delivery, and handling your shipment on the dock. Pricing of the future will be less about accessorial charging shippers to death for every little thing, and more about automating the invoice and providing real-time notification of the accessorial charge, should it be warranted! That is where we are heading.

Do you have questions about your pricing? Contact your solution specialist or reach out to OD Customer Service at (800) 235-5569. Representatives are available to assist you.

Need More Information?

Contact us by email or simply call 1-800-235-5569 to be connected to an Old Dominion customer service representative.