DISCOUNTED TARIFF PRICES: your “special pre-qualified customer” 76% discount is almost as good as everyone else’s “are you still breathing” 82% discount
Decades ago, before the trucking industry was deregulated, the law required that carriers publish tariffs, showing their prices. Carriers often enjoyed near-exclusive operating rights in specific lanes, so price levels were only mildly constrained by competitive market forces, and the fine print buried in the tariffs was used to add all manner of extra accessorial charges (think $30 for a hard-copy POD) to the base price, including charges for services that weren’t really ‘extras’.
With deregulation came wide-open market-based competition and significantly lower prices. Nowadays, tariff prices are often the prices that carriers charge both their worst customers, the ones they would really prefer went elsewhere, and their innocent walk-on unsolicited customers. But many of the legacy carriers and their spawn have retained much of the accessorial components of their original tariff structures, and are not shy about adding on unexpected fees.
Rather than calculate new pricing structures for customers they want to keep, many carriers and brokers simply apply deep discounts to their sky-high baseline tariff prices. So, if you paid your last invoice within 60 days or so and you are still breathing, then congratulations, you are a Valued Customer, and you, along with 99% of the rest of the world, qualify for a seventy-something percent discount. Or maybe eighty-something percent.
Sounds great, but beware: if almost everyone is being offered a percentage discount in the 70’s or 80’s range, then those are not really ‘bargain’ or ‘sale’ or ‘special’ prices. You might be much better off with a provider who just gives you a straight-up, all-in price.
And just as those ancient regulated tariff habits have survived, so also have many of the extra add-on charges (think $30 for a phone call to confirm an appointment) that were buried in those tariffs, in language that is difficult to both find and difficult to understand. In addition, to access your very own “special” discount, you might be required to sign a contract that locks you in to those add-ons (think $350 for a cancelled pick-up request) for the next 12 months.
Be sure you base your price comparisons and purchases on the total all-in price, rather than on fantastical percentage discounts. Otherwise, you might end up paying more than you expected, and getting less than you expected.