It’s no secret that negotiating rates with carriers has gotten progressively more complex in recent years. It was no easy feat to begin with – which is why shipping consultants have made a living by providing guidance on terms and conditions and helping negotiate the best rates. Consultants can help shippers determine which services are most applicable to them based on their specific needs and the cost to value ratio of those services. They also play a vital role in introducing new services and helping control shipping costs. While not everyone prefers to work with a shipping consultant, many shippers have elected to do so, given that contracts – and not just shipping contracts – have become increasingly more perplexing in today’s “if you can’t win ‘em, confuse ‘em” business world. Look no further than your wallet for evidence of this. Last July, polled* a rocket scientist (no joke), an etiquette expert, and a former CIA agent for their thoughts on an excerpt from an actual credit card agreement. Barry Eisler, who worked as a start-up executive in Silicon Valley, a technology lawyer in Japan (where he also got his black belt in Judo), and undercover with the CIA Directorate of Operations before becoming a best-selling thriller writer, called the agreement “gobbledygook,” saying that, “The intention of this kind of language is to make anybody who looks at it not read it, or to send you running in the opposite direction. But either way, you won’t read it, and even if you try to read it, you’re not going to understand what it means.” If this is the norm with typical consumer business agreements, you can imagine how complicated contracts get at the business-to-business level when far more dollars are at stake. Thus, many shippers – whether small-to-medium sized businesses or large enterprises – have found value in working with consultants to help navigate the process of working with carriers. However, recent changes in the shipping industry have caused some carriers to shy away from allowing consultant involvement when negotiating with their customers, resulting in shippers getting left in the dark to navigate these often murky agreements on their own. If we lived in a utopia where contracts were written in plain English and businesses were just as focused on the prosperity of their customers as their own bottom line, perhaps we could bid shipping consultants farewell for good. Until that point, it may be in shippers’ best interest to look beyond traditional service providers and embrace consultants for the value they bring to the table. –Vice President of Marketing & Field Sales *Source: