Purpose: In this article we explain what a surcharge is, and how it's invoiced.
What are surcharges?
Once you've enabled your direct debit and started shipping with Sendcloud, you will receive an invoice for your labels bi-monthly. It can happen that you notice a surcharge has been added to your invoice related to one of your shipments.
A surcharge is an additional cost on top of the cost of your shipping label which is charged by the carrier when the parcel does not meet their terms and conditions. This cost is not affiliated with Sendcloud and the decision to charge this extra fee is in the hands of the shipping carrier.
Want some tips on avoiding unwanted surcharges in the future? Check our article: How can I prevent surcharges?
Why does a carrier charge surcharges?
A carrier may choose to charge a surcharge when the package you are shipping does not meet their shipping conditions, and, as a result, extra costs are incurred during the process of delivering your package to its destination.
Reasons for surcharges vary depending on the carrier or the particular shipping method, but can include everything from your parcel being the wrong dimensions, poor packaging conditions, the wrong shape for processing via a processing belt, too light or too heavy or because the wrong shipping method was chosen for the type of delivery or destination country. Some carriers even choose to charge surcharges for packages which have a "Fragile" sticker applied to the box.
Anything which results in additional or manual processing time on behalf of the carrier can result in an unwanted surcharge. That's why it's so important to always carefully read and be aware of the shipping conditions for your chosen shipping method.
How does the carrier measure and weigh your packages?
Once your package is picked up by a carrier or dropped off at a service point, its shipping journey begins. Your package will enter a manual sorting center where it is measured and weighed. If a package falls within the dimensions and weight restrictions and fits correctly on the sorting belt, it can be automatically processed and sorted for delivery.
Your packages are measured and weighed at two separate moments during the sorting process by highly accurate calibrated machines.
What happens if my package falls outside the dimensions/weight?
If a package falls outside the weight and dimension restrictions, or if the shape is too cumbersome or the packaging is insufficient for automatic processing, it must be removed from the automatic processing line and put to one side for manual processing. This adds additional time and labor costs for the carrier, which is why they will then charge you for these costs via a surcharge.
In some cases, it may happen that your package cannot be processed automatically due to the shape of your package and may even be returned to you without a delivery attempt.
How is the surcharge calculated?
A surcharge is always charged by a carrier after it has been processed. Only when the package arrives at the sorting center can it be measured and a decision made over whether the package can be automatically processed over the belt or not. These costs are calculated afterwards and as a result, you will find the surcharges later on your biweekly invoice.
Different carriers charge different rates of surcharges, and the type of surcharge incurred plus some additional factors, such as the weight of your package, will determine the price you pay.
For all of the carriers we are partnered with at Sendcloud, we have compiled an article listing the particular type and rate of surcharges that a carrier can charge. Click here to check for potential surcharges based on your preferred carrier.
For help on how to avoid surcharges, check out read our general article on how to avoid them and packaging guidelines.
How am I charged for surcharges?
If you receive a surcharge it will appear on your bi-monthly invoice with the type "Surcharge" and will often name the particular reason for the surcharge in the description, in addition to the tracking number of the individual parcel it relates to, as per the example below:
You can view your invoices and download them in PDF or CSV format from your Sendcloud platform, by going to Settings > Financial > Invoicing. If the reason for a surcharge is unclear or you feel that you received a surcharge in error, you can log a finance support ticket via your Sendcloud account and we can investigate on your behalf.