Last-minute load cancellation - truck en route to shipper


Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2009
Before I get to my question/comment, this is the basic scenario of what happened today:
- load booked yesterday for pickup this morning -- great!
- notified last night at approx 7pm, by email - not phone, of pickup time change to this afternoon -- fine, no problem.
- emails from load broker this morning confirming we are still OK for afternoon pickup -- yes, driver on schedule.
- notified one hour before appointment time, after driver already en route to shipper that load has been cancelled by shipper -- SH*T!

I told the load broker that since this is a last-minute cancellation, we would be charging them for truck ordered, not used. The broker hmms and haaas and tries to convince me that this is not really a last-minute cancellation. I told him it is, in fact, last-minute since the pickup appointment is in one hour . I have to pay the driver, plus I already had a reload booked for that truck as well. Not to mention the other loads that I had refused after booking that truck with him. He then says he will "see what he can do for me".
This is an American branch office of a Canadian load broker.


Also, we are not running elogs yet but for those of you who are using elogs, have your charges changed for things like last-minute cancellations since the driver's "clock" has already started and it cannot simply be shut-off once the truck is already moving?

Jim L

Active Member
Mar 2, 2009
Until there is more freight than trucks, this problem will continue to rear its ugly head.

The only way you will be able to monetize anything that is an accessorial fee will be if the customer sees value in continuing the business relationship with the carrier. When trucks are hard to find, the customer will put more thought in making sure that the carrier will not give them an excuse and an agreement/payment of the accessorial fees is one way to do this. The carrier, on the other hand, always has the choice of identifying if a particular customer is costing them more money than its worth. If there is no freight, the carrier may decide not to pursue additional fees in an effort to keep the business relationship.

An important process in the discussions with your customer is to tell them how ordering a truck and then cancelling the truck costs the carrier and eventually those costs effect the freight rates. The same discussion should be made for waiting time, faxing/emailing documents, removing all dunnage from the equipment and sweeping it, improperly loaded equipment, border detainment (including the customs broker). The carrier can easily come up with a rate from point A to point B but it is these items that make the costs variable and if you can come to some agreement beforehand you can avoid hassles- saving even more time.

Looking at your customer relationships is important. Is your customer a freight broker? Have you asked them if they had this conversation with their customers? Remember that a freight broker that asks for a TONU will probably only get the amount that the carrier asked for and therefore is not making any money of the transaction. If that is the case do you blame them for not wanting to attempt to get it? If your customer is a direct shipper/receiver, is your customer looking for the lowest common denominator to get his freight moved - if so, accessorial fees are probably not considered at all. Good customers will always look for ways to lower the carriers cost because they know that in the end that will keep the freight costs down. Little things like staging the freight and having the paperwork completed before the truck arrives is a big help. Emailing the documents and being directly involved with the customs broker is a small cost to them but a profound carrier saving sometimes (especially if they use Livingston). The customer can call the receiver so they know its coming - lowering dwell times at delivery.

Unfortunately, for the most part, none of this comes to fruition until there is a shortage of trucks and for a prolonged period. This has not been the case for the last decade and that is why we continue to struggle with getting accessorial fees approved. I always say -maybe next year....