Freight charges are often complex and confusing and even people who have industry experience and knowledge can be caught out. If you’re in the process of negotiating a new contract with a new provider or your existing one, it’s important that you have all the information you need to make the right decision about your freight costs.

Asking the right questions of your transportation company can help you get to the bottom of what you will actually be paying and demystify those extra charges. If you know exactly what you should be paying for it will be easier to see when you are being overcharged.

Here are nine questions you should ask your freight provider before you sign on the dotted line.

1. What are the different basic charges and when do they apply?
2. What is the rate per kilogram?
3. When will minimum charges be applied, at what weight?
4. How do your zone to postcode files affect my freight rates?
5. What are your pallet, carton and cubic rates?
6. Where are the weight breaks?
7. What is your cubic conversion factor?
8. How much is your fuel levy and how is it calculated?
9. What additional fees will you charge and when?

Don’t be afraid to query anything you aren’t sure about. There is a huge range of difference between individual transportation companies, especially when it comes to fuel levies, zone to postcode files and minimum charges. Depending on how much you are planning to send, and what zones you want to send it to, your costs can vary dramatically between different freight providers.

It’s important to shop around when you’re looking for the best deal on your freight. Speaking to a few different companies can give you a good idea of the spectrum of different costs and lets you determine which is going to give you the best deal on your specific transportation needs. Being informed can help you avoid any nasty surprises when you get your invoice at the end of the month.

Your freight is probably taking up a large portion of your overall business costs, so you need to know what you’re paying for. A freight auditing service can help you find out where you could save money on your freight and if your current provider isn’t offering you the best deal, can also help you find one that will provide better service for less cost.