If you’re starting to get the feeling that UPS and FedEx are taking on the personalities of the Airlines and are charging fee after fee on top of the actual shipping charges, you’re right! Anyone who ships frequently with UPS or FedEx already knows how difficult it is to make sense of the carrier invoices. Often, companies who ship more than just a few shipments each week find it nearly impossible to review each of the charges on every invoice and still manage to pay the carrier within terms. Adding to this difficulty is the myriad of “extra” fees each carrier tacks on to the cost of shipping packages. These extra fees are not the exceptions, they are a normal part of your FedEx or UPS bill that can make understanding your invoices quite challenging. Worse still, the carriers often make billing errors, leaving it up to you to find them.
While a parcel audit service will look for these (and many other things) for every shipment and every detail of the invoice (that’s just what they do), knowing a few things to look for will help you review your invoices more efficiently on your own, and might save you some money too.
- Late Deliveries – Unless you’ve allowed the carrier to negotiate the Money Back Guarantee (FedEx) or Guaranteed Service Refund (UPS) out of your pricing agreement, if the carrier delivers the package late you can get your money back. If you suspect a package was delivered late, go to the carrier website and track the package to see the actual date and time of delivery. If it is late, and it is still on your bill (it will be), call the carrier and get this money back. Both carriers offer the guarantee, but they’ll only honor it if you ask for your money back.
- Unused Labels – This is for UPS only, but if you print a UPS shipping label and never actually use it to ship anything, the charge for the package will still be on your invoice unless you void that label in the UPS system. If you don’t void it, it will be on your bill as if you used it to ship a package, and you’ll need to call them to get the credit. If you think a charge might be for a label you didn’t actually use, go to the UPS website and Track the shipment. If it shows that nothing was ever picked up, call UPS and get your money back.
- Address Correction – For 2015, UPS and FedEx each charged a whopping $12.50 additional fee for every parcel where the Ship To address was incorrect and the carrier had to correct the address in order to deliver the package. This is actually quite common, and it kind of makes sense if the address was really inaccurate in some way (like, the wrong zip code or town was originally used). Often, however, the “correction” is a very minor one and the carrier was easily able to deliver the package. Whenever you see a charge for an Address Correction (look for these specifically), look at whether the “corrected” address was really needed. If it looks like the change was very minor, call the carrier and ask for your money back.
- Residential Surcharge – Both carriers charge one of their “extra” fees if they deliver to a residential address. If you ship primarily to your customers’ residential addresses, this is something you already know and expect. Still, if you suspect that a particular address where this fee was added is not an actual residence, challenge this charge by calling the carrier. To help your case, go to the carrier website and look at the tracking information. If it says it was “Left at Desk” or something like that, use this information when you call the carrier to increase the chances of getting your money back for this fee.
- Saturday Delivery Fee – Unless you routinely, intentionally ask for packages to be delivered on a Saturday, you should check every one of these you see. It is fairly simple to verify. Just go to the carrier website and track the package to see the actual Delivery Date shown, then look at a Calendar. If it wasn’t actually a Saturday, call the carrier and get your money back!
Bonus Thought: If you have the ability to do so, sign up for UPS.com and/or FedEx.com and enroll in their online billing programs. In addition to being able to get insightful reports on what you are spending with these carriers, it will allow you to get your invoices in PDF (which look just like the paper invoices) and also in a file format that you can review in Microsoft Excel. It might take a little effort to learn how to look at your invoices this way, but doing so will allow you to quickly scan for anything out of the ordinary. Billing errors happen all the time, but unless you catch them and ask for your money back, the carriers keep the money.