Ultimately, the key to dealing with liftgate charges is prevention. And prevention starts with good education. So we’ve rounded up the most frequently asked questions about liftgate charges, how to avoid them, and what to do if you need to dispute one after receiving your invoice.
What is a liftgate anyway?
A liftgate refers to a mechanical loading or unloading device that a carrier may have to use if a pickup or delivery site is not set up for easy shipping (i.e. a loading dock). Because, the truck driver most likely can’t turn into a big green Hulk and move your freight off the truck with zero assistance.
I specifically noted on the BOL “liftgate not approved without prior authorization.” No one contacted me for approval and I still got a liftgate charge. The carrier can’t do that, right?
Unfortunately, that isn’t so. It is very important to note that carriers are not required to notify or get permission from us (Unishippers) or you (the shipper) before using a liftgate in order to complete a delivery, even if the shipper puts “liftgate not approved without prior authorization” on the BOL.
Why don’t carriers have to get permission to use a liftgate?
Remember that the carrier has other deliveries to make, too – and the driver may not be able to pause to start making phone calls to get approval. Further, if approval was denied, that driver would be unable to make further deliveries that day until the freight is offloaded. (Because, remember, the carrier doesn’t have superhuman powers to get the shipment off the truck themselves). For that reason, if the carrier discovers a liftgate is required at any point during transport, it is at the carrier’s discretion to use a liftgate and apply a liftgate fee to the invoice.
How do I know where a liftgate will most likely be required and used?
Some common places where a liftgate can be required is at residential locations, non-commercial or limited access locations, and when deliveries are made to a curbside – essentially any place without a loading dock.
Why did I receive a charge for a liftgate AND redelivery fee?
Not all trucks are equipped with liftgate equipment. If you did not indicate that a liftgate would be required ahead of time, it is possible that a truck may be dispatched that cannot handle the delivery. If this is the case, and another truck has to be sent out, it is possible that you will incur a redelivery fee and liftgate fee as well as a potential delivery delay.
I’m certain that a liftgate was not needed for my shipment but I was charged for one, what do I do?
If you are certain that a liftgate charge is not valid, you may dispute it with the carrier. For example, the shipment went to a hospital and you have confirmed that the hospital has a loading dock. Helpful documentation to prove your case may include delivery receipts that don’t mention liftgate charges or pictures of the delivery or pickup location showing a loading dock. If a delivery receipt was signed as liftgate used, it will be extremely difficult to dispute the charge, though.
In the case of liftgate charges, the best way to avoid surprises is to be aware of any special requirements of the delivery location before arranging the shipment. And as always, if you have any questions about disputes or charges on your invoice, feel free to contact your Unishippers office. They are always there to help!