Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping is an absolutely crucial part of operating many small-to-medium businesses, with its own unique set of challenges. To say that there are many moving parts, both physically and metaphorically, seems almost like a groan-worthy pun, but is also absolutely true. The last thing anyone wants is a delayed or cancelled shipment, and the myriad problems that can create, so when getting ready to ship, accuracy and attention to detail are key.As an example, let’s take a look at limited access locations. This can oftentimes be one of the less clear aspects of LTL, and one that could prove a colossal thorn in your side if you’re not careful.
What are Limited Access Locations?
Limited access locations are any non-residential locations that do not fit into a standard business description. What does this mean, exactly? Well, in truth, it can mean many things. The most clear example is locations in which it is physically challenging for freight trucks to navigate. For instance, churches and hospitals are considered limited access due to their high levels of pedestrian traffic, and the fact that their receiving areas may have reduced maneuverability for trucks.On the other hand, Airports and military bases are deemed limited access due to increased security presence, or the fact that they are generally inaccessible to the public during business hours; if you’ve ever cursed the hours spent waiting in lines before your flight, know that freight carriers are in no way immune to similar scrutiny. Even locations such as farms are deemed limited access, despite many being spacious, vacant, and well-equipped enough to handle freight trucks. In this case, the issue lies in location; remote locations can require a truck driver to divert far enough from their route that the location can then be considered limited access.
These are the rules… except when they aren’t
All this is to say that, as with anything, exceptions can and do exist. While the broader rules and definitions regarding limited access status seem clear enough (anywhere in which the shipping and receiving of freight can be potentially impeded by special conditions), there are often disagreements between carriers on which locations specifically meet these broader rules. Even Amazon deliveries fall into this nebulous grey area; while Amazon facilities are not generally considered limited access locations, not all carriers will accept Amazon delivery shipments.
Why is this worth mentioning? Well, for one thing, limited access shipping locations factor into your overall shipping rates. If one freight carrier considers, say, a shopping mall limited access, and another doesn’t, it pays dividends to know who is who. Even more importantly, perhaps, is that providing incorrect or incomplete information to the freight carrier can result in hefty consequences.
The wrong information comes at a price
This all may seem like a lot of information. It is a lot of information. It is also, however, incredibly vital information for you to have. After all, knowing when and what to classify as a limited access location when, say, getting a quote on shipping could be the difference between the smooth, seamless movement of your goods and the refusal of a driver, be it because they have insufficient paperwork, are unable to clear security, or are even driving a truck too large to accommodate.
What happens then? Fees, of course! Missed pickup or delivery fees are to be expected in these instances, but that’s not all. Oftentimes the carrier will even charge a limited access fee after the fact, in spite of whether or not the pickup or delivery was even completed! Now you have a larger-than-expected invoice, the carrier has wasted their time, and whomever is waiting on your shipment has to wait longer. That is a lot of unhappy people on account of one avoidable oversight.
One more time!
Still unsure if you are shipping to a limited access location? Remember to ask yourself:
- Is this location high security?
- Is this location difficult for a 53-foot freight truck to navigate?
- Is this location far enough off the truck route to be considered remote?
- Are there any other difficulties the carrier may have delivering to this location?
As mentioned above, knowing if your shipment is going to a limited access location is vital when obtaining your shipping quote. In many circumstances this may involve contacting multiple carriers to see who can deliver for you, and for how much. For Freightcom users, however, it really is as simple as clicking a checkbox.
If all this seems daunting, fear not! At Freightcom we literally wrote the book on LTL! What’s more, we’re ready with the tools and resources to help you navigate even the murkiest aspects of getting what you need from Point A to Point B.
Need help now? Call our 24-hour support line at 1.877.335.8740 where we’re always happy to help.1.877.335.8740.