Review of Audit Action

B-197913: Sep 2, 1980

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A freight line requested a review of an audit action taken by the General Services Administration (GSA) in connection with two government bills of lading. Amounts were deducted from monies otherwise due the firm to recover overcharges collected by the carrier for the transportation of two truckloads of containers. The agency stated that the charges collected by the firm were derived from the class 50 truckload rating and its minimum weight restriction. The agency issued notices of overcharge based on the applicability of lower commodity rates. The parties agreed that the containers were not transported in a filled condition. The firm contended that the agency used rates applicable to commodities such as ambulances, buses, cranes, and electric generators. The agency contended that the containers required specialized handling because of size or weight. There was no evidence that any of the containers shipped required specialized handling because of size or weight. As contended by the firm, the description of the containers contained several conditions for the application of the rates they used. It was apparent that the firm had no intention of offering lower rates for transportation of empty containers. In view of the firm's obvious intention to offer lower rates only for containers tendered under limited circumstances and the fact that the containers were not so shipped, the legal questions raised by the agency of whether the containers, because of their size or weight, would require specialized handling was irrelevant. The GSA settlement action was incorrect, and refund of the amounts deducted should be made to the firm.