Somewhere along the line the parcel industry morphed from the simple world of picking up and delivering packages to a galaxy far, far away where acronyms, abbreviation and monikers converge with initiatives, agendas and accelerated growth to create a sea of complication and mystification. We have taken a basic service and turned it into a lexicon lovefest. The carriers, in their zeal to differentiate themselves, have managed to create a Rubik’s Cube of Shipping that is impossible to solve. In the process, services have become less differentiated in a haze of pricing and delivery guaranteed confusion. Poor Jim Casey, may he rest in peace. If the truth be told, he is probably spinning in his grave.
I think it happened when techies, marketers and salespeople entered the picture – sometime back in the 80’s. Back when seasoned truckers ran roughshod over the industry. Back when a package was a package and a dollar was still worth fifty cents. You can bet your last RF chip you never heard anyone from the ‘old school’ say, “Oh, excuse me, may I swipe your barcode?” Not on your life! All they cared about was whether your package arrived safe and sound.
UPS, DHL, FDX, USPS, PPM, OTR, P&D, RFQ, POD, TL, TOFC, ICC, LTL, DOT, NASSTRAC, NTSB, ATA, FAK, EDI, FOB, GATT, COFC, COD, CWT, GVW, JIT, IT, PPD and OS&D. Did I miss any? Oh yeah, 3PL!
I’m sad to report that carriers today no longer market the simple assurance that your package will arrive on-time without any damage. No, evidently that is no longer good enough. They are obsessed with ‘value-added’ services. How can they earn more accessorial fees? It doesn’t matter if you want them or not. Here they come, anyway. It doesn’t matter if you’ll ever use one of their fancy new features; you are still going to share in the cost of providing the so-called added value.
Fuel surcharge, remote area surcharge, residential surcharge, incompatible, non-conveyable, smalls and irregulars, concealed damage, accessorial charge, service exception, act of God, weather related, drop frame, straight truck, 18 wheeler, fifth-wheel, dolly, yard jockey, switcher, extendo, kingpin, low-boy, bobtail, pup, diad, billed weight, actual weight, deficit weight, net tare weight, net weight, dim weight, dim wit, manifest, freight bill, air bill, bill of loading, way bill, pallet or skid, linehaul, backhaul, relay, sleeper, base rate, net rate, incentive or discount, tier and threshold, minimum charge, rebate, import and export, data entry and consolidation.
Can someone explain to me why the carriers suspend their guarantee for ground service from December 12 – 24? Oh, there is too much volume so they can’t be expected to offer quality service. Try selling that line to an emergency room patient in a big city hospital on a Friday night. “Oops, we’re sorry we took out your gall bladder instead of your appendix but you do know that this is our busiest night, don’t you?” Meanwhile, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals says businesses kept logistics costs at an all-time low. Now that’s something I didn’t know. Did you? That unequivocally demonstrates that the Quality program is working. What a relief. Long live Malcolm Baldrige. Let’s not stop there, this warrants some type of celebration. Get out the party hats and wax lips.
Do you have a contingency plan in order? You better find a 3PL today. A company that handles your paperwork, keeps in touch and delivers on their promise. A real ‘solutions in motion’ type of 3PL is just what the doctor ordered. Did I mention that a driver shortage will keep pressure on capacity and pricing and could undermine long-term economic expansion? If I didn’t, then that’s my ‘bad’. I surely should have mentioned that. Are you worldwide yet? You better be worldwide, go global or die.
Remember, we don’t discuss speculation or rumor. Now in the spirit of the classic movie ‘Network’, I implore you to open your window, stick your head out and shout, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
Joe Loughran is President of Parcel Rate Solutions and an expert in the parcel industry. Parcel Rate Solutions is a transportation consulting company offering services in Carrier Rate Analysis and Carrier Agreement Analysis. Joe can be reached by phone at (724) 934-0626 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.