Request for Review of GSA Deduction Action To Collect Alleged Overcharge

B-194950: Nov 1, 1979

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Coast Counties Express, Inc. (CCE) requested review of a General Services Administration (GSA) collection of an alleged overcharge by deduction from monies otherwise due CCE. The point in question was whether, as GSA contended, the original shipping tender provided an adequate basis for computation of appropriate charges for a shipment, or whether, as CCE contended, the provisions of Western Motor Tariff Bureau U.S. Government Quotation No. 1 should apply. CCE assessed transportation charges in accordance with Quotation No. 1 on the grounds that the class "A" explosives which constituted the cargo had to be transported on open flatbed equipment; the original tender made no provision for the use of flatbed equipment, but stated that Quotation No. 1 would apply in instances in which the tender was silent. In addition, CCE cited a Naval shipping regulation specifying the use of flatbed equipment which CCE claimed applied to the cargo in question. GSA contended that the original tender established a restriction on dimensions only and not on the type of equipment used, and that therefore the rates established in the tender should apply. GAO agreed with the GSA interpretation of the original tender. Additionally, GAO noted that quotations of freight rates are considered to be continuing offers to perform transportation services at the quoted rates subject to the terms and conditions contained in the offers, and as such are subject to traditional rules of contract law. Under such rules, the rates in the original tender apply whether open or closed equipment is used. Therefore, the GSA settlement action was sustained.

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