What is a Truck Order Not Used (TONU) Fee?

Though there is an array of service charges and ancillary fees in the trucking industry, paying for a Truck Order Not Used can be an inconvenience for shippers and carriers alike. 

Understanding what these charges are, how much they typically cost, why they’re levied and how you can avoid them will, hopefully, reduce their impact on your company going forward. 

At the end of the day, TONU fees exist for good reason. Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we see these charges frequently. And, no matter how well prepared a company is or how thoroughly they communicate with their stakeholders, sometimes paying a Truck Order Not Used charge is unavoidable. 

In this article, we’ve broken down everything you need to keep in mind about TONU charges including:

What is a Truck Order Not Used (TONU)?

A Truck Order Not Used charge, also called a “TONU” surcharge, is a fee levied by a transportation company on the party responsible for paying the freight charges when they fail to utilize the truck dedicated to their shipment. Typically a TONU charge is applied when a cancellation occurs after a trucking company has taken significant steps to allocate a group of assets (a truck, trailer and driver) for their customer’s use. 

Though “significant steps” is kind of a loose term, expect to pay a TONU charge if your carrier has dedicated, dispatched or delivered a transportation solution to your loading site that you can’t utilize. 

Usually, TONUs must be paid if a company cancels service on the day of their scheduled pick up. 


What is the Purpose of TONU Charges?

Simply put, TONU charges are used to compensate truck drivers for their time and the commitment they’ve made to a shipment. If a truck’s wheels aren’t turning, that driver is not making money. As the party responsible for keeping them moving, carriers must ensure that, even if they don’t garner a load from your business, they are compensated (at least partially) for hauling the freight they had expected to

Positioning the truck you canceled on for its next shipment will take some adjustment — and adjustments (even in the most freight-rich environments) take time. Paying a driver a TONU fee acts as a bridge between your shipment and the next. 


How Much Does a TONU Cost?

TONU charges, although inconvenient to pay, aren’t going to break the bank. Keeping in mind that your situation may vary, the vast majority of TONU fees cost between $150-$300 per truck

However, companies that have booked a specialized truck and trailer — for an over-dimensional and/or overweight shipment — pay specialized TONU fees (these are more expensive). Expect to pay no less than $500 for a specialized TONU charge. You will also be asked to pay for any permits acquired to move your freight. 

In the end, your TONU fee — specialized or standard — will be determined by the level of inconvenience a cancellation causes. Paying a TONU on a truck that hasn’t departed for your facility, for example, will cost less than one that was onsite when your cancellation occurs. 

How Can Minimize The TONU Surcharges You Pay Going Forward?

Thorough communication will be your greatest ally here. Ensuring your internal stakeholders (loading crews, dock workers, shipping managers, etc.) are on the same page as your transportation provider is crucial to avoiding TONU charges. 

The last thing you want is for a driver to show up to your facility unexpectedly, causing a cancellation on your end or a mad rush to get him/her loaded. 

Instead, maintain a clear line of communication with your transportation companies. If, for one reason or another, you no longer need a soon-to-be-arriving truck, relay this information as quickly as possible. 

semi-truck-driving-at-sunriseNo one — not you, your transportation company, your truck driver or your customer — wants to be inconvenienced. As such, stay ahead of your shipping schedule and, when the time comes to cancel an inbound truck, do so as soon as you can. 

Additionally, to ensure your freight is connected its best-fit transportation solution, it’s important to thoroughly specify your cargo details and requirements upfront. Without doing so, you may be left without a viable solution when your driver shows up without the right equipment/tools to get the job done.   

What Other Accessorial Charges Should You Know About?

TONU surcharges are some of the more common accessorials companies pay when managing their transportation supply chain. That said, they are far from the only ones you will see. 

For a complete list of the most common accessorial charges — and their related price ranges — check out this article next.

Educating yourself in such a complex industry isn’t easy. However, doing so is central to the long-term fruition of your company and customer relationships. 

So, if you have more questions about TONU surcharges or any transportation-industry topic, please reach out. We have a transportation expert standing by to help you in any way you need. 

Tags: Spot Rate Pricing, Terminology

Donna Mangas

Written by Donna Mangas

Donna started as a national sales representative with ATS Logistics in January 2021. Though she had no prior transportation experience, Donna's curiosity, can-do attitude and relentless work ethic helped her excel as a logistics professional. Today, Donna is a regional sales manager and enjoys the customer relationships she's formed during her time at ATS, continually putting her problem-solving skills to work to locate the best solution for every shipment she services.

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