If you're feeling the pain of rising fuel surcharges, you're not alone. In an online survey conducted among DC VELOCITY readers in April, 88 percent of the 206 respondents reported that they had seen increases in their fuel surcharges in the previous three months. On average, respondents said they were paying fuel surcharges of 23.8 percent above current freight rates.

Among other findings, the survey indicated that there's little uniformity in the way fuel surcharge programs are structured. Close to half (52 percent) of the respondents reported that their fuel surcharges were adjusted on a weekly basis. Another 35 percent said their surcharges were adjusted monthly, and 12 percent said adjustments were made on a daily basis. Only 18 percent of the respondents said their fuel surcharge programs contained a cap.

One obvious way to control fuel surcharge costs is to reduce shipments. And in fact, 24 percent of the respondents reported that they had deliberately cut down on the number of shipments they made in order to rein in fuel surcharge costs.

Asked what other techniques they were using to control freight costs (and by extension, fuel surcharges), respondents cited a variety of strategies. The most popular answers included consolidating loads or implementing an internal efficiency program (28 percent), and negotiating prices or shopping around for better rates (18 percent). Other responses included changing routes, redesigning the supply chain network, using software, and passing on the costs to customers.

Not all of the respondents were equally enterprising in their responses to the problem, however. A full 20 percent admitted that they were doing nothing at all to control their surcharge expenses.

Click here to read about ways to minimize fuel surcharges.