A closer look at the unauthorized handling fees that aren’t always obvious for shippers
Additional handling fees can be tricky to predict, but they’re always a slow drain on your shipping budget for the sake of a few overlooked inches. Unauthorized packages fall under several categories, and all of them drive down your bottom line.
It pays for shippers to know what carriers mean when they label something “unauthorized.” Here’s how FedEx and UPS apply the term and further information on the various additional handling fees.
FedEx additional handling fees
Let’s begin with the least expensive charges. FedEx applies an additional handling surcharge on items over certain dimensional, weight and/or packaging guidelines. Dimensionally, any package greater than 48 inches along its longest side and 30 inches on the second-longest will incur an extra $15 charge for U.S. Express Package, U.S. Ground, International Ground and International Express Package Services.
Weight-wise, packages with an actual weight (simply the reading on the scale) over 50 lbs shipped via U.S. Express Package or U.S. Ground incur a $24 additional handling fee, as do any greater than 70lbs moving via International Express Package or International Ground Services.
Additional charges of $13 for U.S. Express Package, U.S. Ground, International Ground and International Express Package Services are applied when an item’s packaging is deemed “non-standard.” A few examples of this are cylinders, shrink-wrapped packages and non-corrugated fiberboard containers. Refer to the FedEx guide for the complete list of non-standard packaging.
Unauthorized packages can cost shippers a lot
Page 11 of FedEx’s Fees and Other Shipping Information (effective January 2020) is where things get a lot more expensive. Unauthorized packages moving via U.S. Ground and International Services face an $875 fee. To avoid this, packages can’t exceed either 108 inches in length, 165 inches in combined length and girth or weigh over 150 lbs.
That $875 is only if shippers are “lucky” enough to have FedEx decide to ship the package. It’s equally likely to be disposed of, returned or refused. Additionally, if FedEx does accept it and deem it necessary to alter the item’s packaging in transit, that could affect its dimensional weight and incur further charges at their discretion.
Additional handling fees with UPS
Additional handling charges apply across all of UPS’s domestic and international services, but excessive fees can be avoided if shippers notify UPS in advance.
Packages that measure 48 inches on their longest side (or 30 on their second longest), weigh over 70lbs. and are not encased in corrugated cardboard should be brought to the attention of UPS. Unusually shaped items like cylinders are fine if they’re in corrugated cardboard packaging.
Shippers can give UPS advance notice of specific packages by choosing the “What are you shipping?” tab in their online processing form and selecting “Additional Handling.” UPS.com and Campus Shipping will automatically select this designation if the package variables exceed the limits we mentioned above.
The UPS additional handling fees for 2020 are: weight $24.15 (domestic) and $18.90 (international), length $18.90, width $18.90, and packaging $18.90.
The exception to the UPS additional handling fee
The additional handling charge isn’t applied to packages that have received the UPS Large Package surcharge. For domestic and international services, that’s currently $84 for commercial and $94.50 for residential delivery if the length plus girth exceeds 130 inches. If the length exceeds 96 inches for purely domestic packages, the same commercial and residential rates apply.
What UPS regards as an “unauthorized” package
UPS sees packages as exceeding authorized limits if they’re more than 108 inches in length, 157 combined length and girth, or over 150 lbs. UPS won’t accept these for transportation into their Small Package System. If any package exceeding these measurements is found there, it’s subject to an Over Maximum Limits fee in addition to other applicable charges.
The Over Maximum Limits charge is the same for UPS as the FedEx unauthorized fee: A massive $875 per package. Article 41.8 on page 22 of their Terms of Service warns shippers that an Over Maximum Limits fee may be a triple whammy applied individually for separate weight, length and size exceptions at the same time.
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