The Law of Intended Consequences

by Lowell Nickens

I have a client who ordered several new graphics to be sent directly to the advance warehouse, however, it dawned on me that shipping individual boxes to the advanced warehouse just might get very expensive, and if I didn’t do some checking, it could make me look like a trade show rookie in the process.

So, I asked my client to send me the drayage forms and special handling definitions so I could be certain about what I would be recommending in order to minimize the cost. I really didn’t mind doing this for my client because a number of years ago, I owned my own trade show decorating company. This was my comfort zone; or so I thought.

I began reading through the forms and what I read was the most convoluted set of definitions about “what is” and “what isn’t” that I’d ever read; followed by a whole hierarchy of escalating price add-ons.

Consider this:

1) When is a 5 lb. small package not a small package?

  • When it’s delivered with 2 others and the combine weight is more than 30 lbs
  • When it’s delivered on the same day as the other 2 but by another company
  • When all 3 are delivered at the same time by the same driver for the same exhibitor, but one of them was shipped by a different shipper
2) What is it then? It’s A Special Handled Shipment!
  • It’s a shipment that needs special handling and each box will be charged the minimum which is $260 per box.
  • No, but wait! If it’s delivered after the warehouse deadline which is 12 days before the show opens, you’ll pay an additional $50 per box that brings the total to $310 per box.
  • However, if this shipment hits the dock at 4:45 on a Thursday afternoon, it’s now overtime which is worth an additional $55.30 tacked onto the already special rate of $310 for our 5 lb. box. Now we’re up to $365.30.
  • Wait, there’s one more; Sundays or holidays – that’s another $55.20 for a total of $420.50 for the 5 lb. box times 3 = $1,261.50 Imagine getting that bill from show services!!
I did get a real chuckle out of the contractors attempt to save the client a few dollars with this illustration of how to save money at the bottom of the form:
Consolidate Shipments

(i.e. if minimum shipment weighs less than 200 lbs)

3 Separate Shipments
- 60 lbs. charged @ 200 lbs. $200
- 52 lbs. charged @ 200 lbs. $200
- 65 lbs. charged @ 200 lbs. $200 = $600.00

1 Consolidated Shipment
- 3 pieces (1 shipment)
- 177 lbs charged @ 200 lbs. = $200.00
- Added benefit – your shipments are less likely to get misplaced if they are packaged together with larger items
It obviously works out better if you cherry pick the combination of packages that works best to fit your illustration. Nonetheless, even if you were just shipping a pop up case, you could easily be into it for over $300.

Let me just say that being able to print money like this for a business doesn’t just happen, somebody had to really work hard to come up with this intended consequence!

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