It “Fees” Like I’m Getting Screwed!

July 31, 2010

By Guest Blogger, Jim LeRose, http://www.agilenycmetro.com/

I did my due diligence by checking flights at Kayak.com. Then I booked with the least costly airline to Ft. Lauderdale, which also happened to be my preferred carrier, and at that time I thought I had paid for my flights in full. Little did I know…when I checked in months later, I would get hit with $212 in fees for the first checked bag per-passenger. That amount represented 15.4% of my total travel expense! It “fees” like I’m getting screwed!

Wall Street investors and airline executives are laughing all the way to the bank and at you while they snatch a lot more of your money then you expect. CNN reported the airlines are getting billions from these new fees and now the US government is being asked to step in.

I say, what’s the difference between what the airlines are doing vs. what UPS/FedEx are doing to their customers? Answer – not a thing. “Fees” like you’re getting screwed too? You don’t have to take it.

Here’s an example; Last week I met with one of my best customers who discovered from an audit report that I prepared, his company is paying around $2,000 per month just for address correction fees with UPS. This is a fee that penalizes a shipper for not providing the correct information on their shipping labels. Many of these fees were incorrect addresses for shipments sent to the same customers repeatedly while others are for incorrectly spelled street names. This prompted further investigation and more analytics. He quickly realized his undisclosed fees for items such as; dimensional, oversize, delivery surcharges, residential, Saturday delivery etc. totaled 13.7% of a 3m total transportation spend. That means they we’re paying $411,000 extra to the carrier without knowing. Within months we cut this number in half and saved over $200,000 per year in unrecoverable fees. This is not an isolated incident. What’s puzzling is why so many companies either don’t care enough to do anything about it or simply think there’s nothing they can do.

What can be done about big businesses tricking their customers into paying more?

When it comes to flying, from now on I recommend you travel wearing one layer of clothing for each day you will be away, i.e. seven layers of clothing for a one-week trip, and avoid checking bags. Simply remove one layer each day. I admit this solution may be a bit flawed, as it may be slightly difficult to move about the cabin, it can only be used during extremely cold winter travel but it may help the goal of reducing fees.

As you can probably tell I may not know much about reducing fees for air travel but when it comes to UPS/FedEx, there’s plenty I know and a lot you can do!

Here are five simple suggestions to lower or eliminate carrier fees…

  1. Get a reputable auditing company auditing your UPS/FedEx invoices immediately! You will get reports every month. Analyze the monthly reports so you can identify the overcharges. Overall my customers report the value of the information in these reports far exceeds the money saved from the actual refunds the auditors get for your company. You have to realize you have a problem before you can fix it and there’s no better way to identify the areas of overpayment then by using a 3rd party auditor.
  2. Get new shipping technology (Transportation Management System – TMS) deployed at your company that will disclose these fees prior to shipping and help you save money in other areas. The free stuff such as: UPS Worldship / CampusShip / FedEx Ship Manager etc. aren’t designed to help you spend less – that’s why they are free. Today’s TMS systems can save 15% or more on your annual UPS/FedEx spend.
  3. Get started using the USPS for residential shipments and/or low weight items. Their service has vastly improved and you may not know this but FedEx airlifts freight for Priority service.
  4. Get an accurate shipping cost exposed in your shopping cart. You must be able to expose the final cost of shipping in the cart so you don’t get whacked with unrecoverable charges later.
  5. Get a professional to help you negotiate lower fees or have them completely removed from your contract. Beware carriers have just announced they will NOT cooperate with the 3rd party negotiator of your choice so you will have to work with one behind the scenes.

Check out these links to see the current list of fees charges by your carrier:

I hope this information helps you Ship Better and Save Money.

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How Are You Losing Money in Shipping?

April 10, 2010

Are you throwing your shipping dollars down the toilet?

As you may recall from the last post, I met with a client that was surprised when she discovered that she was losing over $100,000 a year in shipping. It did not seem possible because they were billing their customers for shipping at the published rate that the carrier charged. Let me provide a specific example, they shipped a package UPS 2nd Day Air and the published charge was $34.25; the billed charge was $26.71 because they have negotiated a 22% discount with UPS (which is poor but we will leave that for another time). So logically, you would think that they made a $7.54 profit on shipping this package, which would be great. However, on the UPS invoice there was an adjustment of $19.16. This additional charge shows up on the invoice after the package the shipped and after the customer was invoiced. So the result was that instead of making $7.54, this company lost $11.62 on this package!

Let’s look deeper and discover how and why they are losing money.

The first step is to review the carrier’s detailed invoices. In our example, we see that UPS made an adjustment. This additional charge shows that the package was re-rated at 14 pounds and it says Dimensions =20 x 15 x 9. What that means is that this package was charged based on the dimensions, not the weight. Let’s look further.

The next area to examine is what the shipping system computed for the shipping charge. In this case, my client has a UPS WorldShip software program for processing shipments, sometimes referred to as a shipment execution system or a manifest system. You can generate a report from this system or lookup a specific transaction. We researched the UPS 2nd Day Air package in question and saw that according to the UPS shipping system, it cost $34.25. So what was the difference? Why was my client charged $19.16 more?

Two reasons:

  1. The person that shipped the package did not enter the dimensions of the package and the parcel carrier based its charge on the package dimensions. For details on how parcel carriers compute this type of  charge, see my previous post, A Quick & Easy Way to Calculate Dimensional Weight. These type of errors occur because the person does not know to enter the dimensions or skipped it for some reason. It is generally a process error or training issue. If they had entered the dimensions, the system would have computed the correct base charge, but there was another problem.
  2. The UPS WorldShip did not add the 7% fuel surcharge to the published charge. Why? Because it was not setup properly so that the fuel surcharge is added to the base charge; this requires a knowledgeable person to configure the shipping system and to constantly maintain it!

The consequence was that my client was not really charging their customers the correct published charges because the shipping system was not properly calculating the rates due to setup and processing errors. The customers are invoiced based on data from the shipping system, not the actual invoices. Accessorial charges come after the customer has been charged. In this case, it was 33%of the published rate!

How to audit your parcel shipping:

  1. Review the Delivery Service Invoice item by item from your carrier; find all shipping charge corrections or adjustments.
  2. Research all adjustments by comparing the invoiced amounts to the charges in the shipping system.
  3. Find out why they are different and fix the system, create a process, and or train the operator.

     

    To be continued…