How Inaccurate Freight Bill-of-Lading Hurts Your Shipping Costs

June 28, 2024

Extreme weather conditions, remote locations, and limited infrastructure all contribute to the complexity of shipping freight in Alaska. These things increase the importance of accurately tendering freight. Mistakes can lead to costly errors, disrupting schedules, and straining relationships with carriers.

Proper bill-of-lading (BOL)ensures that shipments move smoothly and efficiently despite the obstacles. Incorrect information, on the other hand, can result in unexpected fees, delays, and other complications. These issues can significantly impact shipping costs and overall business operations.

By investing in paperwork accuracy, businesses can avoid unnecessary expenses and maintain reliable shipping processes. An accurate t BOL is not just a best practice, it is essential for successful shipping in Alaska.

The Impact of Incorrect Dimensions

Incorrect dimensions can have a major impact on shipping costs. Underestimating the size or weight of a shipment often results in unexpected fees from carriers. Carriers base their charges on the dimensions and/or the weight of the freight. When the actual measurements exceed the provided information, additional fees are incurred. These fees can be substantial and can quickly escalate the cost of shipping. From LTL shipping in Alaska to full truckload, the consequences of incorrect dimensions are substantial. For example, an oversized shipment might require specialized transportation. Suppose a business underestimates the size of its cargo, expecting it to fit within standard truck dimensions. Upon arrival, the trucking company realizes the cargo is too large. The shipment then requires different equipment such as, such as a flatbed truck. This switch results in delays and additional charges. In some cases, the shipment might need to be split into multiple trips, further increasing costs.

To accurately measure and weigh freight, use proper tools, such as industrial scales and measuring tapes, to get precise dimensions. Measure the length, width, and height at the longest points, and account for any irregular shapes by measuring the farthest points. For weight, always weigh the item with all its packaging and the pallet to get an accurate total. Using software that helps calculate and verify dimensions and weight can also prevent errors.

Regularly calibrate measuring tools to maintain accuracy. Take extra care with irregular-shaped items. Measure them from every angle to make sure all dimensions are captured correctly. By paying attention to these details, businesses can avoid the pitfalls of incorrect freight dimensions and the associated costs.

The Problem of Wrong Addresses

Incorrect or incomplete shipping addresses can lead to significant delays and costly address corrections by carriers. These errors disrupt delivery schedules and often result in additional fees. Carriers must spend extra time and resources locating the correct address, rerouting shipments, or returning items to the sender. The costs associated with these corrections can add up quickly, impacting the overall shipping budget.

In Alaska, the challenges of address accuracy are heightened by the state’s rural and remote areas. Many locations lack standard street names and numbers, making it difficult for carriers to find delivery points. In some cases, communities are accessible only by air or water. 

In rural or remote areas, providing detailed delivery instructions can also help. Include landmarks, local contact numbers, and any other relevant information that can guide the carrier. Regularly update address databases to reflect changes in delivery locations and routes. 

Avoiding these issues can be as simple as double-checking shipping addresses before dispatching goods. Confirm the recipient’s details with the carrier to make sure they match the carrier’s delivery routes and capabilities. Use address verification tools that automatically check and correct addresses in real-time. By prioritizing address accuracy, businesses can avoid delays and additional costs, ensuring that shipments reach their destinations efficiently and on time.

Missing or Inaccurate Classification

Freight classification impacts shipping rates by defining how a carrier handles and charges for the shipment. The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) system standardizes these classifications, assigning a code to each type of freight based on factors such as density, stowability, handling, and liability. Lower-class codes typically correspond to lower shipping rates, while higher-class codes indicate higher rates due to the increased difficulty in handling the freight.

Misclassifying an item, whether intentionally or in error, can lead to significant financial consequences. Overcharges are a common result of inaccurate classification. Carriers rely on accurate freight classifications to determine shipping rates. Incorrect classifications can inflate costs unnecessarily. In some cases, misclassification may result in fines, adding another layer of expense.

Determining the correct freight class involves several steps: 

  1. Identify the item’s characteristics, including its weight, dimensions, and density. Calculate density by dividing the weight of the item by its volume. Density plays an important role in classification, as denser items usually fall into lower classes. 
  2. Consider the item’s stowability, which refers to how easily it can be stored and transported. Items that are difficult to stow or that require special handling may be assigned higher classes.
  3. Determine handling and liability. Items that are fragile, hazardous, or otherwise challenging to handle often receive higher-class codes. 

Businesses should regularly audit their freight classifications to make sure they continue being accurate. Training staff on proper classification procedures can also reduce errors. 

The Hidden Costs of Inaccurate Bill-of-Lading

The hidden costs of paperwork inaccuracy extend far beyond immediate extra fees. These broader consequences can have a significant impact on business operations and customer satisfaction. Disrupted schedules are one major issue. Inaccurate data often leads to delays, as carriers need to adjust plans or make corrections. This disruption strains relationships with carriers, as they face increased workload and logistical challenges. Over time, these strained relationships can result in reduced service quality or even loss of carrier partnerships.

Delayed shipments due to incorrect BOL can also erode customer confidence. When customers experience repeated delays or issues with their deliveries, they may seek more reliable alternatives. Maintaining customer trust is essential for business success, and inaccurate information jeopardizes this trust.

Resolving disputes stemming from inaccurate BOL consumes time and resources. Businesses must allocate staff to identify and correct errors, communicate with carriers, and address customer complaints. The need to constantly manage and rectify these issues reduces overall efficiency and increases operational costs.

Investing in accurate freight data helps avoid these hidden costs. Implementing data verification tools and processes ensures that information is correct from the outset. Regular audits and staff training on data accuracy can further minimize errors. 


Inaccurate BOL leads to higher shipping costs in several key ways. Underestimating shipment dimensions results in unexpected fees. Incorrect addresses cause delays and costly corrections. Misclassifying freight leads to overcharges and potential fines. These issues disrupt schedules, strain carrier relationships, and damage customer trust. Time and resources spent resolving disputes further add to the costs.

Investing in data accuracy helps businesses streamline operations and achieve long-term savings. Accurate data guarantees efficient shipping, reduces errors, and maintains strong relationships with carriers and customers. 

Carlile Transportation is an Alaskan transportation expert committed to freight data accuracy. Contact us today for a quote or consultation to optimize your shipping process and start saving right away.

Key Takeaways

  •  Accurate Bill-of-Lading is Essential: Shipping freight in Alaska faces unique challenges due to extreme weather, remote locations, and limited infrastructure. Accurate paperwork is crucial to avoid costly errors and ensure smooth operations.
  • Impact of Incorrect Dimensions: Underestimating shipment dimensions leads to unexpected fees. Use proper tools to measure and weigh freight accurately, accounting for irregular shapes.
  • Problems with Wrong Addresses: Incorrect or incomplete addresses cause delays and additional costs. Double-check addresses, use verification tools, and provide detailed delivery instructions for rural or remote areas.
  • Hidden Costs of Inaccurate BOL: Beyond extra fees, inaccurate BOL disrupts schedules, strains carrier relationships, and damages customer trust. It also consumes time and resources in dispute resolution.
  • Long-term Benefits of Data Accuracy: Investing in accurate freight data helps streamline operations, reduce errors, and build strong relationships with carriers and customers. It leads to significant long-term savings.
  • Expert Assistance Available: Carlile Transportation specializes in freight data accuracy for Alaskan transportation. Contact Carlile for a quote or consultation to optimize your shipping process and start saving immediately.