Measure, weigh and don’t cry. How to avoid surcharges for shipments?

Courier companies really dislike two things: when customers disregard their terms of service and when they do not use scales and a tape measure. In both cases, they usually do the same: they deliver even extremely troublesome parcels to the indicated address, but in return they add a significant charge. These are the most common, but not the only situations in which couriers will charge you additional fees.

First of all, you have to know that additional fees don’t mean additional profit. It is true that they go into the courier’s pocket to cover the costs, but in the long run they bring losses due angry customers switching to other courier companies. Because, no matter whether it was your fault or not, you may feel unsatisfied and may want to look for another supplier. The effect is that everyone loses as a result of additional charges.

Big package, big surcharge

You will pay the highest charges when your package exceeds the maximum dimensions specified in the courier’s terms of service. In such circumstances, the shipment will be classified as a “large package” and will be subject to a surcharge, which can be very painful.

Each courier company determines the maximum size of shipments in a slightly different way. For example, UPS states that it can deliver a package with the sum of the girth (2 x height + 2 x width) and length which does not exceed 400 cm. However, parcels whose sum of dimensions exceed 300 cm are automatically classified as “large parcels”. The weight of a “large parcel”, irrespective of its actual weight, is assumed to be 40 kg. There are many similar nuances. So if you want to avoid misunderstandings and costs, you should carefully read the courier’s terms of service, and if in doubt, contact their consultants.

A package which is unweighed, unmeasured and non-standard will cost more

Another situation which may cause surcharges is when actual weight and dimensions of the package differ from those declared in the consignment note. If, despite these differences the package is still within the acceptable dimensions and weight limits, you will only pay extra for the change of category, as the package will fall into a higher weight range. In extreme cases – e.g. when there is a risk of damage to the shipped items – the courier may decide to use a pallet for your shipment, which will cost accordingly. You may also be surprised when it turns out that there is a discrepancy between the actual weight and the dimensional weight (i.e. conversion of volume to weight) which allows courier companies to avoid losses associated with the transport of large, and at the same time very light loads, e.g. polystyrene blocks.

You should also remember that the dimensions of the package and its weight mean the dimensions and weight of the entire shipment with the outer packaging, fillers or a base (e.g. pallet). Also, the requirements for a standard package should be followed. If you, for example, pack your goods in a cardboard box which is within normal requirements and then wrap it with stretch or bubble foil, the package may be treated as non-standard, because it is not sortable (automatically). This means additional fees.

Unsuccessful pick-up, wrong address, waiting and other costly mishaps

“Usuccessful pick-up” means all those situations in which the courier arrives on time but cannot collect the package. The reasons may differ: absence of the sender, poorly or not packed package. Even if the courier can wait, it is usually not for free.

Making a mistake or entering the wrong address may be the worst result of not paying attention as redirection and redelivery cost a lot. You will also pay the price for storing a package in the local courier’s warehouse, if you decide that package should be delivered after a recipient comes back from a business trip or a holiday.

You may also be unpleasantly surprised by the recipient. By law, everybody may refuse to accept a shipment. In this case, the courier will deliver the package back to the sender, usually charging a fee equal to the normal delivery. That is why it is not worth sending something to the people who may not want it – for example, a gift which is romantic in your opinion, however not previously agreed with your spouse.

Is it worth arguing with the courier?

You can always appeal against the decision of the courier who added a surcharge. However, you have to have a better argument in the appeal than the fact that you do not want to pay. You have to prove that you have been treated unfairly and provide documents that will support it. And this is a difficult task, because courier companies – as was mentioned at the beginning – add surcharges as a last resort and do not treat them as a source of income. This means that surcharges are used in the case of obvious violations of the terms of service, which you most likely will not be able to question.