Freight classing can be difficult, to say the least. The freight industry does not make it easy to learn since the information is not readily available to the public. The current classing system seems to have been devised by the same person responsible for the numeric rage of credit scores.
It makes no sense to me and is just something we all go along with. (I mean, 77.5 and 92.5. Amiright?) I have never searched for the history of how classing came to be, mostly because I would wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night knowing that such a document may exist somewhere, not to mention it would be as intellectually stimulating as reading a dictionary cover to cover. I just don’t have that kind of time.
That being said, I have come to accept the current industry standard as it is now practiced, simply because that is the way it has been done for the past 70 years or so.
Since I have been blessed with a keen understanding of freight class, my fellow employees at FreightPros have elected me as the company classing expert. When speaking with an Account Executive or one of our helpful Account Managers or Solutions Specialists, and such a person is referenced, it’s me. I’m the guy. The one now known around the office as The Classmaster, a title I covet and am proud to hold.
I like to think of myself as the wizard from Oz; answering inquiries via a floating hologram head deep in a dark layer between bolts of lightning and rumbling thunder, but instead, the curtain has been pulled back and it is more of the guy in the next desk over asking, “Hey, how would you class a crate of left-handed smoke shifters or a pallet of humane silver plated wombat traps…” Who ships those anyway?
If the subjective opinion on what to name items is to look them up in the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) database wasn’t difficult enough – A bounce house is listed as an inflatable amusement – there is also the chance the board has met at a secret location and at an undisclosed time to review their listings and make updates to freight classes without notice. I have a feeling they are on the top of a waiting list in case The Bilderberg Group has a scheduling conflict at the Chateau Montebello.
Dispatches from the Classmaster…
I do have a few suggestions on getting through all of the classing drama without unexpected charges.
- Be as descriptive of your freight as possible. As a broker, we not only need to know what is in your shipment and be knowledgeable about products we are unfamiliar with, but we need to know enough about it to match it up with an NMFC number and listing that may not go by the common name for your product.
- Know how the shipment will be packaged. Classing can change if the product is boxed, crated, or exposed and secured on a pallet.
- Know the specs of the shipment. A lot of items are classed based on density or size. Your broker will need accurate weights and all three dimensions LxWxH. Check out the density calculator.
- Know all aspects of your product. For accurate rates, we may need to know the material it is made from, what it is used for, the value, if it is new or used, if it is blue, if it needs temp control like protection from freezing in the winter, and so on. We may have a lot of questions but they are all so we can narrow options down on our end to get the best shipping rate possible .
- If you regularly ship the same product, check with your broker once or twice a year to make sure your classing listing has not changed or been altered by the NMFTA. We have no control over their decisions and probably won’t be informed of them until the carriers adopt them into their system which will lead to additional charges after the shipment has delivered.