For most of our household shipping needs, the Post Office, UPS or Fed-Ex delivers. But what do you do when you want to get a motorcycle across the country – without you on it? Antiques from your grandmother’s estate? Or your whole house packed up in boxes?
“That’s where freight shipping comes in as a great, economical alternative,” says Matthew Brosious, president of FreightCenter.com (www.freightcenter.com), a company that brokers freight-shipping, much like websites such as Expedia broker air travel and hotel stays.
“Freight shippers can handle anything too heavy for the standard package shippers, basically anything from 100 pounds to 8,000 pounds,” he says. “For these items, LTL shipping – which stands for Less-Than-Truckload – is the easiest and most economical way to get your big, bulky item moved.’’
Since, for many people, that might be a once- or twice-in-a-lifetime event, Brosious offers some suggestions to ensure your shipping experience is smooth sailing.
• Pack properly and label each separate package or item. Unless your freight carrier includes packaging in its service, be sure your goods are all carefully and properly packaged, crated or secured to pallets with shrink-wrap or banding. If you’ve never built a crate, there are plenty of companies that will do it for you. If you shrink-wrap your item or boxes to a wooden pallet, start at the base and pull the wrap tightly so it’s secure. Your stack should not wobble when you’re done. “If it’s not packed correctly and something gets damaged, your carrier may not be liable for that,” Brosious warns. “Sometimes, they won’t even transport it.” A sofa wrapped in plastic, for instance, is not considered “packaged.”
• Label each separate bundle or item. Attach a clear, printed label to the top of every box or item in your shipment. The label should include your name and the recipient’s, as well as addresses and telephone numbers for both of you. It should also include the bill of lading number, carrier’s name, and date shipped.
• Provide accurate information about contents, weight, etc. If you guesstimate, you may end up with a bill for more than the price you were quoted! Shipping quotes are based on the information supplied by the customer, but freight companies may choose to weigh your item. If you’re wrong – for instance, if your freight weighs more than you thought – you will likely see a bigger bill.
• Expect to pay more for residential delivery. If you’re in a non-commercial area, residential delivery fees may apply, even if you run a business out of your home. That’s because the streets are usually harder to find and navigate. Residential delivery applies to apartments, farms and houses – and sometimes to schools and churches. You can save money by having your item shipped to an airport terminal and picking it up yourself, if you have a vehicle that can transport it. If you’re having your freight delivered to a limited-access area, such as a military base or a storage unit facility, you might also incur an additional fee.
Freight-shipping is an economical way to move items, Brosious says. He advises people to shop around for quotes, or use a broker to handle that part for you.
FreightCenter.com is a third-party freight logistics company that uses web-based tools to help businesses and individuals with their shipping needs. It has garnered numerous awards, including Best Companies to Work For (2011, Florida Trend); Service Industry of the Year (2010, Pasco Economic Development Council) and Top 10 Websites (2010, BtoB marketing news magazine.) Matthew Brosious and his father, James, co-founded American Freight Cos. – the parent company of FreightCenter – in 1998 to facilitate freight-shipping for one-time, occasional, and small-business shippers. The service enables customers to compare carriers’ rates, book online and track paperwork in one location.