Penalties for Pallets?

Penalties for Pallets?

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

What weighs more, a ton of bowling balls or a ton of Ping-Pong balls? The answer may have troubling dimensions for shippers of mixed freight.

The National Small Shipments Traffic Conference and the Health and Personal Care Logistics Conference raised the point in objecting to provisions of the National Motor Freight Classification under which mixed palletized shipments are rated at the highest class rating of any included commodity.

NASSTRAC told the National Classification Committee the rules mean a pallet including 50 bowling balls and a box of Ping-Pong balls would be rated as if it consisted entirely of Ping-Pong balls. That produces a higher class rating than using the average density of the palletized freight, the shipper group said.

The shippers claim higher ratings penalize shippers, as higher class ratings generally mean higher freight rates.

"NASSTRAC and the Health & Personal Care Logistics Conference don''t see why any mixed shipment should be rated at the highest class rating of any included item in the shipment," said John Cutler, general counsel for both shipper groups. "A fairer approach for mixed shipments would be to rate it on the entire shipment, rather than the artificially high density of what the highest-rated item is."

Some trucking companies complain shippers aren''t providing enough documentation to prove that a mixed shipment doesn''t qualify for a single-shipment rating. NCC proposes that if there isn''t sufficient documentation, the more punitive approach will apply.

Item 640, Section 3 of the NMFC, which provides for higher class ratings on mixed shipments, contains an exception allowing articles in mixed shipments to be rated individually. However, the requirements to meet this exception are burdensome, Cutler said, and he claimed the NCC proposal would make them even tougher.

Joel Ringer, manager of classification development at the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, said the provision would be reviewed by the full classification committee.

The issue is NMFC Docket No. 2004-1, Review Matter C-Item 640, Section 3.