General Freight Rate Increases

Although freight pricing has gone down over the last year, as carriers battle harder to contract a lower overall volume of freight, it will inevitably rise again as the economy recovers. Most economists are forecasting that the freight industry will see solid recovery beginning in the second quarter of 2010. For shippers, this may mean that the shipping bargains they’ve been getting will be much harder to find.

For heavy shippers, even the slightest increase in freight rates can add up. Carriers generally issue “annual general rate increases” which can actually occur more than once a year.

Shippers should also be aware that these general rate increases are “weighted average increases”. Carriers usually make higher increases in longer haul lanes, minimum charges and lower weight shipments.

Freightquote.com’s customers won’t have to worry quite as much as shippers who try to negotiate directly with the carriers though. Freightquote’s shipping volume allows it to negotiate at a higher level with carriers, protecting its customers from biannual rate increases. Although shipping rates will most likely rise with the rest of the economy, Freightquote will leverage its relationship and volume to minimize the rate increase for its shippers. The increases will be much smaller through Freightquote because of its enhanced negotiating position.

Smart shippers use Freightquote.com to instantly quote shipping rates – side-by-side comparison of several different shipping options, so they know they’re getting the best rates available from the most reliable carriers in the industry. By booking through Freightquote, shippers are not only taking advantage of Freightquote’s superior bargaining position with the carriers but also guarding themselves against multiple mid-year rate increases as the economy rebounds.

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Freight Exec Alleges Others Engaged in Offensive Price Cuts Directed at YRC

Freightquote customers enjoy the benefits of the company’s established relationships with thousands of carriers. By comparing rates and delivery options across so many reputable carriers, Freightquote’s customers are assured of the best freight pricing in the marketplace. The current economic downturn has resulted in its fair share of industry victims. A prominent freight industry executive recently alleged that some competitors were engaging in offensive price cuts aimed at weakening the already struggling YRC Worldwide.

David Congdon, chief executive of Old Dominion Freight Line, called the recent industry crisis “the worst pricing environment we’ve ever experienced”, blaming the general economic downturn and trucking overcapacity.

He also said that some of the pricing trends were likely deliberate moves by other carriers to undercut YRC. YRC is an industry leader in the LTL shipping market but has experienced financial troubles of late.

Some industry analysts believe that a major bankruptcy in the LTL sector could go a long way in resolving the overcapacity problem.  Congdon believes that some recent competitive pricing actions were aimed at pushing YRC towards bankruptcy. He noted that prices in some cases cut “below variable costs,” with YRC “reacting” These pricing practices are unsustainable in the long-run, according to Congdon.

Old Dominion has defended some volume by matching price cuts but hasn’t used price cuts offensively. “We never intentionally go out and cut someone else’s price to gain volume,” Congdon said.

Old Dominion though has bought or is in the process of buying $90 million in terminals and other real estate this year—most of it from YRC. This positions Old Dominion for long-term growth or short-term opportunities in the event of a YRC bankruptcy.

While Freightquote’s customers continue to benefit from the pricing wars among freight carriers, they can lean on Freightquote’s experience and relationships in the industry to make sure they are well-positioned for any major shake-ups in the LTL sector. By using Freightquote, LTL shippers get the best rates from the nation’s best carriers – and don’t have to keep up with freight industry news to do so.

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Drayage Services in Intermodal Freight Shipping

Freightquote assists many customers in arranging domestic and international intermodal shipping. This simply means that the freight is shipping via several different modes of transportation. In domestic intermodal shipping, it generally consists of rail and truck freight carriage. In international shipments, intermodal freight can be carried by any combination of truck, rail, air and ocean-going carriers.

Because the timing of each delivery and pick-up in intermodal freight situations is generally not perfectly aligned, there is a need for interim unloading and storage. This is where drayage services come in and Freightquote can also arrange for this vital detail in any intermodal shipment.
Drayage services are specialty carriers – with appropriate licensing, bonding and agreements necessary to fill the gaps in intermodal freight. Drayage carriers pull containers in and out of ports, harbors, and warehouses.  This includes hooking the huge steel containers off of steamship decks and railcars, loading them onto trailers for transport to an approved storage facility to await the next step of the intermodal process.

Drayage services are available at both ports and rail yards, picking up and delivering to and from customs-bonded Container Yards and Container Freight Stations. Some even operate their own container storage facilities. They can even be responsible for opening and reconfiguring containers and less-than-container loads for further transport.

Although drayage service seems like a minor step in the intermodal freight shipping process, it is an extremely important one. The freight can only make its way from one mode to the next if the drayage service is prompt and reliable.

Rather than spending the time and effort to research reputable drayage services, shippers can rely on the expertise of Freightquote.com. Freightquote has arranged thousands upon thousands of intermodal freight shipments and knows the most reliable drayage services out there. Customers who trust Freightquote to handle intermodal shipments from start to finish are relieved of the stress of managing this multi-part shipping process. Every portion is handled via the online freight management system, right down to the billing and delivery confirmation.

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How To Get A Good LTL Quote

Getting a Good LTL Quote

Many shippers have come to Freightquote having previously negotiated their own less-than-truckload (LTL) rates – and some have even negotiated very good rates. It is not unusual, however, for Freightquote to immediately be able to offer additional savings off of those well-negotiated freight rates.

LTL contracts though are fairly complicated. There are actually several variables involved in producing an accurate LTL rate. These include the discount, the base rate, weight, classification, minimum freight charges, length of haul, service points, fuel surcharge, and other additional/accessorial services.

When quoting a load – when accurately quoting a load – these variables must all be considered. Freightquote’s online quoting system takes each pertinent variable into account before presenting quotes from multiple carriers. The system then allows the shipper to compare these quotes including rates and delivery times and assess the strengths of each carrier.

Over the last decade, Freightquote has continually re-evaluated, tweaked and updated its technology to ensure that its shippers receive the best and most accurate quotes. Because of Freightquote’s years of experience and enormous volume of freight shipped, it knows exactly how to best navigate every carrier’s tariff and other variables to provide the best possible quote.

Most often, because of the experience, the relationships and Freightquote’s shipping volume, this LTL quote will beat the rates the shipper could negotiate on its own.

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Dealing with Damaged Freight

The topic of damage – especially concealed damage – is a hot button for many shippers. Items can, in fact, be damaged despite intact packaging and a pristine-looking box.

The Interstate Commerce Act (in the Carmack Amendment) allows a shipper nine months to file a freight claim against a carrier. The party filing the claim has the burden of proving the claim.

The filer must prove that:
(1) the shipment was tendered to the carrier in good condition
(2) the shipment was delivered in damaged condition; and
(3) the shipper suffered economic injury as a result of the damage.

Proving damage upon delivery can prove to be difficult on occasion. The best practice, of course, is for the consignee (the party receiving the freight) to inspect the goods immediately and note the damage on the delivery receipt. The more specific the notation, the better.

If the damage is concealed, however, and the consignee does not immediately inspect the packaged contents, the carrier should be contacted immediately upon discovery of the damage. Often, an inspector will be dispatched if the carrier has a local terminal.
Immediate digital photos of the damaged goods in the packaging are also a good idea.

Delay in reporting often leads to lower damage payments. The longer the freight is the consignee’s possession, the more difficult it will be to convince the company (or a jury, if the case goes to litigation) that the damage occurred while the carrier was transporting the goods.

While Freightquote.com places loads with only the most reputable and reliable carriers, some freight damage is probably inevitable from time to time. When damage does happen, Freightquote’s customers have a powerful tool in their arsenal.  Freightquote’s attentive and experienced customer service representatives can assist in the claims process.

If a Freightquote shipper wants the company’s help in handling a damage claim against a carrier (remember Freightquote is not a carrier but is a broker that places shipments with carriers), the shipper must submit the claim to Freiqhtquote within 30 days after delivery. Claims for damages that are not readily apparent (“concealed damage”) must be submitted to Freightquote within 3 days after delivery. So, immediate (or as close to immediate as possible) inspection is vital.

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All Air Freight on Commercial Airlines to Be Screened for Explosives by August 2010

On almost every commercial airline flight, the cargo hold contained more than just your luggage and a pet carrier or two. Airlines make substantial income by filling their passenger flight holds with a wide variety of cargo.

About 10 million pounds of cargo are shipped on passenger planes in the U.S. every day. While the luggage has all been screened for explosives for years, almost none of the cargo went through security until recently. By August 3, 2010, all the freight that’s shipped aboard commercial airlines must be screened for bombs.

Before then though, a system of private cargo screeners must be established. Federal officials and freight industry leaders are worried that tons of cargo will be grounded because of a lack of certified screeners.
The TSA’s Certified Cargo Screening Program does not currently have enough certified screeners to meet demand.  The problem is that most freight flown on passenger planes arrives pre-packaged on pallets or in large cargo bins.

Federal law though requires every box (even those contained within the pallets and bins) to be individually screened by either humans, X-ray machines, explosive-detection equipment or trained dogs.

The law does not require that the freight be screened at airports, like luggage, but allows TSA to certify private companies to screen cargo at any point in the shipping process, providing secure deliveries to airlines.

Even if the goods are inspected prior to packaging on pallets or in bins, it seems that everyone handling the product from there would need to have TSA certification, to assure a secure chain of custody.

The new inspection mandate does not apply to 100% cargo planes, such as those flown by FedEx and UPS. Carriers with their own cargo planes could certainly see an uptick in business next year while the industry and TSA sorts out the screener issues.

Freightquote.com’s customers won’t have to worry about air freight shipping delays come next August. Freightquote’s shipping experts keep abreast of all industry news and will be equipped to route customer’s shipments to the best performing air freight carriers, for the best rate.

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