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Manufacturers, distributors, and other freight shippers are all concerned about the rising cost of shipping. Matching invoices to the original quoted price has become an important step in keeping shipping costs in check. Carrier freight invoices are subject to both human and process errors, so an audit of each invoice is necessary.

The Cost of Errors

Inaccuracies and errors on invoices can be costly and time-consuming. For example, a parcel shipment that starts as an estimated $50 can end up costing $80 by the time the invoice is received. This increase is likely due to accessorial fees, surcharges, or errors on the invoice.

According to, freight costs can account for as much as 10% of a company’s expenditure. Due to rising freight costs, many organizations have become more cognizant of the amount of money they are spending on shipping. Outsourcing freight audits is usually the economical way for most organizations. also found that the cost to verify, process, and pay a freight invoice is approximately $11. The cost of outsourcing is around 5%–10% of the internal cost, not taking into account the cost savings from invoice discrepancies, which could be as much as 8.8%!

Common Errors

Knowing where costly shipping mistakes can occur can help shippers control their spend. The first step to finding errors on an invoice is to check to see if the bill of lading data matches the invoice data.

An estimated 1%–2% of all carrier invoices rate incorrectly, which translates to unexpected cost in the shipping budget. Some of the other common reasons for inaccurate data and calculation include:

  • Wrong PO number
  • Incorrect shipper/carrier VAT number
  • Incorrect billing address
  • Incorrect total or VAT
  • Incorrect exchange rates
  • Wrong calculation of weights, parcel/pallets numbers
  • Duplicated shipments on the same invoice
  • Fuel surcharges (missing a reference number)

Some of these errors are mistakes that can be easily fixed. The carrier will correct a wrong billing address, but at a cost. Depending on the carrier, a mistake like this can cost anywhere from $11–$77 per shipment.

Third-Party Auditing

Auditing invoices can prevent issues such as double-billing and overcharging. Many organizations choose to outsource this process. The advantages of outsourcing a freight audit go far beyond the reduction of freight spend. It also eliminates paper invoice trails and automates the audit, coding, and payment processes. Logistics managers only need to get involved for exceptions, so there is a reduction of time spent on reconciliation.


Auditing tools and technology allow for easy access to invoices and the ability to make any changes within your system. Invoices can be sorted and processed by date or by customer. This data can then be used to understand the short- and long-term goals for each customer.

In addition to saving money, analyzing the data in freight invoices gives a sense of the company’s freight spend. For logistics managers, this data and visibility to the process can help to make better decisions, cost control KPIs, and make process improvements.

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