When you give out a standard set of information, as you would when gathering quotes, you expect a standard – or at least similar – type of quote back from each individual freight forwarder. But, as you’ll soon find out, your quotes are not all going to look exactly the same. Not all quotes are created equally, why?
The first difference lies with the people who are responding to your quote request. Everyone has a different writing style and a different mind for evaluating information. Even within the same company, two sales persons can quote you differently: people use different formats, some write full words and some abbreviate as much as possible, some decide to write the total in the beginning and some in the end. These are little details, but they can feel huge when you are reading a quote very quickly and can’t seem to find what you need.
A second reason why quotes will never be the same is because every company decides how to present a quote. For example, let’s say that half of the freight forwarders who provide air rates decide to present quotes that are All-Inclusive. This means that the cost per kilo includes fuel surcharge, accessorial surcharge, security surcharge, and other fees. The other half of freight forwarders may decide to break down every surcharge and label it so potential clients can make their own calculations.
Some quotes you run across may include charges that are additional to the basic fees, but these charges are still listed in case a client realizes he does in fact need the service. For instance, storage fees for an LCL shipment may or may not be included in a quote. If you request a shipping service without a delivery to your door, then you are responsible of picking your cargo up, on time; if you don’t pick it up on time, you will pay storage fees. Since we mention deliveries, it is also good to note that some quotes do not include delivery to your door because the forwarder probably does not have all the details to calculate the delivery costs – like the exact address.
A real-life example
The following is a real example of a quote from one of the Global Top 10 Freight Forwarders, for a small shipment of 118kg transported from Ho-Chi-Minh in Vietnam to Jakarta in Indonesia. Pickup and delivery addresses were not provided. The shipment is labeled as “Dangerous goods” since it contains air pressurized cartridges, hence you will notice some related charges. Let’s take a look at it:
The quote comprises as many details as possible, including insurance rates –which is a service that was not requested. The pickup and delivery fees are included, although the addresses were not provided, meaning that the freight forwarder charges by kilo anywhere in the city of origin or destination. Several freight forwarders will charge for the distance calculated with an address, and not by the weight.
Furthermore, freight forwarders can make mistakes. If you notice the Chargeline Code 0190 for Dangerous Goods Handling Fee in the Export Charges at Origin, the Charge Amount in the 6th column is $150 per shipment. However, in the last column the subtotal for this is only $35. This is clearly a mistake, which can lead to confusions and problems during the billing process, since the forwarder will probably invoice it for $150 while you expect only $35. Therefore, it is very important to check every detail of the quotes you receive, and compare them to other quotes to check if every service fee seems fair or within the market. This due diligence on your part will pay off.
No set of quotes will always look the same but with time you will develop your own standard system to easily interpret and compare quotes.