Normal Transit Times vs Guaranteed Transit Times for LTL Carriers
Most shippers still have some unanswered questions when it comes to an LTL carrier’s normal (posted) transit times and the difference between them and guaranteed transit times. All LTL carriers will have published transit times on all possible lane combinations within their area of coverage. Some will emphasize their transit times as a selling point when quick coverage is one of their main strengths.
Some will bury the transit time calculator deep within their website, when transit times are lengthy, choosing instead to focus on low cost, low claims ratio, etc. Either way, all LTL carriers have something in common as they do not include the day of pick up in their transit time calculations, nor do they include weekends or Holidays. Thus a shipment leaving Thursday on a 3 day lane will deliver next Tuesday. Assuming, of course, that all worked according to plan and there were no delays anywhere along the trail of terminals the freight crossed through on its way to destination. A special caveat ought to be mentioned for points far removed from terminals and covered by cartage agents. Transit times are to the carrier’s terminal and do not include the one-two extra days needed for the cartage agent to make final delivery.
While all carriers will look to maintain an on time delivery percentage in the 90s, some are definitely better than others at keeping freight on track. However, on any given day and on any given lane, there are reasons enough why freight can and sometimes will get delayed. Something as simple as a local driver calling off sick or road construction on I-80 hundreds of miles away from destination is sometimes enough to delay a trailer relay or insure that some part of some county will have less coverage on a certain day. Which brings up an interesting point: what do carriers do when a shipment does not make its nominal delivery date? In a word, nothing. Ideally, carriers should do everything they can to speed up a delivery gone late, yet most times that does not happen lest a chain reaction follows and more shipments would end up sitting and being late themselves.
Carriers almost never offer discounts or re-imbursements for shipments 1-2-3 days late and talk of the dreaded Service Failure does not enter the picture until the shipment is at least a week behind. The moral of the story is to not assume that a shipment will automatically deliver on its standard, nominal delivery date. Luckily, most carriers offer Guaranteed Delivery programs where for an extra charge (amount varies from carrier to carrier), they will guarantee the freight will deliver on its due date or the money back. Such shipments always receive preferential treatment within a carrier’s shipment as no trucker is keen on moving free freight.
So the next time your pick up is missed by a carrier it can easily be because a Guaranteed Delivery shipment was in your area and needed to be picked up before yours, and the next time of your shipments is late it can very well be because trailer space preference was given to a Guaranteed Delivery shipment.
No shipper should make the mistake of thinking regular posted transit times are automatic, if a certain delivery date/time is needed and critical, Guaranteed Delivery service is the best way to avoid headaches.
Please feel free to contact Chip Popovici – Operations Manager with any questions or clarifications regarding the post at email@example.com