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Why 71 lbs Can be Bad News for a Shipper

By June 20, 2013

blog-ups-additional-handling-thumbnailCan just one pound of weight make a huge difference in your shipping costs? Absolutely! Pro tip: keep your shipments at 70 pounds or less, if you can help it.

There are lots of additional charges and fees that UPS can tack onto your invoices. UPS has a special fee called an “Additional Handling Surcharge” assessed in various situations, such as when a package is over 70 pounds in weight. Since packages are already rated by their weight, it seems strange to add an extra fee only for passing a given threshold, but that’s how the carriers operate.

The Additional Handling Surcharge is $8.50, but what’s worse is its presence waives the service guarantee. That’s right – by passing into the magical territory of 71 lbs or more, you will no longer get a refund if your package arrives late. That extra few ounces of weight between 69.9 and 71.0 must be important indeed.

You must be asking yourself, “Is a package weighing 71 lbs really more difficult to handle than one weighing 70 lbs?” That’s a good question. Especially when you consider how rates are tied to the package weight anyway … so the increase in weight is already reflected in a higher rate. Or, “Isn’t there a greater difference between a 100-pound package, versus 70, and a 71-pound package?” A graduated fee would make more sense, i.e. +$2 for 71 lbs to 90 lbs, +$3 for 91 lbs to 110 lbs, and so on.

The Additional Handling fee can come up in other situations like these (though whether it’s applied is entirely at UPS’s sole discretion):

  • Packages encased in an outside shipping container made of metal or wood
  • Cylindrical / similarly-shaped items, such as a barrel, drum, pail or tire, not fully encased in a cardboard shipping container
  • Any package with the longest side exceeding 60 inches or its 2nd longest side exceeding 30 inches
  • Any package with actual weight of more than 70 pounds. (71lbs. or larger)

The Additional Handling disappears when a Large Package Surcharge is applied. The details:

  • Applied when the package length + “girth” (2*width + 2*height) exceeds 130 inches, but not the UPS maximum size of 165 inches
  • Large Packages subject to minimum billable weight of 90 pounds (90lbs. or larger)
  • An Additional Handling charge not assessed when Large Package Surcharge applied

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Lest you think this is only a UPS policy, guess again: FedEx has the exact same fee for the exact same weights. It seems this is one thing the carriers agree on: at what weight threshold to charge you more and drop their guarantee. Feel free to review the details yourself: more information on Additional Handling charges can be found here and here.

And next time your carrier rep wants to discuss rate increases, perhaps you should bring up the graduated additional handling fee idea, such that a 70-pound package and a 71-pound package aren’t treated so differently. That, or removing the GSR waiver. Hey, it could happen.

Until then, you just might save money by keeping your packages at 70 pounds or less.

Brian Gibbs

Author Brian Gibbs

More posts by Brian Gibbs

Brian Gibbs | President of Refund Retriever

Brian Gibbs founded Refund Retriever in 2006 while running his first eBay based business and seeing the shortcomings of other shipment auditing companies. Refund Retriever's primary focus is FedEx and UPS parcel invoice auditing. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2001, he then graduated from the University of Houston in 2004 with a JD and MBA. Gibbs has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur and other publications discussing parcel auditing, shipping, e-commerce and more. Learn more at www.refundretriever.com or call (800) 441-8085 for more information.

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