Tallying Moldings

Suppliers round off piece lengths in different ways. Are you getting the quantities you ordered? May 29, 2005

I recently purchased "embellished moldings" from a new supplier, and was shorted.
After much discussion, I found out their tallying policy. From their distributor's handbook, I quote:

"This industry-standard policy will allow customers to correctly receive the stock that is pulled to meet their orders. All mouldings are tallied to the nearest foot for 0-6" rounds down and 7-11" rounds up (example given 11'-6" =11' 11'-7" =12')."

Is this practice insane? Theoretically, they could ship 100 pieces, all 9'-7" (I, and most people, would call that 900'), but by their standard that is 1000'. Since their moldings are quite pricey (some $12-$15 ft.), this could add up to quite a bit of stock that you pay for but don't get.

Just exactly what industry standard are they referring to? And is this practice legal?

Forum Responses
From contributor D:
When we used to run moldings all day every day, we counted to the foot - 11'-11" would be 11'. Since we mostly ripped and molded poplar, and it was 1-3" long, by the foot, this was pretty easy. We did defect out and used counters to track tally. Every order was tallied, and the tally shipped with the order.

As for the "industry standard", we used the Western Wood Molding Association books and guidelines to judge what we were doing in light of others and their expectations. This was not spelled out by the WWMA, but a close measure was always over what was tallied and invoiced, so the customer could not complain.

From contributor G:
If they gave you a copy of their rules before the purchase, you should live by it. If they did not, I would return all the molding to them.

From contributor S:
In theory, this round-down/round-up method should average out correctly, especially over a larger order, like 1,000 lf. We don't use large quantities of mouldings, so when we buy, we expect to receive the LF we ordered. This is a lineal-foot measure, and it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect to receive what was ordered. As in most situations, live communication can often resolve your difficulties.

From contributor T:
As a large manufacturer of custom mouldings and a distributor for embellished moulding, I might be able to add a different viewpoint here. When we deal with a new customer, we clearly explain how we tally our in-house runs. There has never been confusion in this regard. When we purchase embellished mouldings for resale, we include the distributor's tallying methods as well as all length specs expected on that order, i.e. 50% 3'-12' upcharges for spec lengths. It seems you assumed you knew what you were getting and your supplier assumed you knew what to expect. Not good for a long term relationship. Is it legal? No doubt about it! Educating customers ahead of time is far easier and eliminates all of the issues you are now facing.

As a side note, whether it is 9'6" or 9'7", if it is hardwood, it came from 10' material. This is where quoting pieces rather than footage comes in handy.

From contributor S:
My moulding supplier gives me what I ask for. Why is that so hard? If I need 120 lf and your method says that's what you're giving me but I end up with 100 lf on the walls and 6 lf worth of 6" falldowns, leaving me 6 lf short of finishing my job, you're gonna get an earful, and I won't really care a job about how you tally. You want to charge me for 135 lf, then do that, but I better leave with 120 if you want to see me again.

One of my lumber suppliers does this same thing and it drives me crazy. If I need 120bf, ship me that. I don't care what you charge me. I need the actual footage, not some aberrant calculation that leaves me inches short. This is like GM shipping a car with three tires. Good grief. And please don't give me "industry standard." This is just dumb.

From contributor T:
Several good points, contributor T, especially regarding "industry standards." I have never been able to figure out what the devil that means other than a bs way out of taking care of a problem.

On the lumber front, are you referring to a gross tally? I can't tell you how many times a customer will tell me that I am 4% high in cost when they are comparing my net tally to a gross tally, which would be 7-8% less material, i.e. you pay for 100 bf but only get 92. Do you ever wonder if the steel industry has these headaches?

From the original questioner:
I have spoken with the Wood Molding and Millwork Producers Association and they currently have no standard for tallying moldings, however I was told they found this issue interesting, and would be bringing it up at their next meeting.

Also, I found that the National Hardwood Lumber Association has a standard for tallying ( lengths). It says lengths are 4'-16'. Fractional lengths are rounded down to the next nearest foot (example given 6'-8" = 6'). Note: no mention of 3' pieces. Granted, this standard is for s4s, but it seems that it should apply to moldings also, as they are both finish machined retail products.

And I still question the legality of this practice. It seems the U.S. dept of weights and measures would have an opinion regarding charging for a product that is not delivered.

With regard to other industries… when you buy 10 gallons of gasoline, do they charge you for the 55 gallons of crude it took to produce your 10? No. They charge you for what you are getting, not what they bought to produce it.

From contributor T:
Great research into this problem. I would agree that the dept. of weights and measures would be interested in this, but the sad fact is they haven't done anything about gross vs net tally, to my knowledge, so I don't see anything happening here. I still find it disturbing that your vendor won't take care of you on this matter. We have all kinds of policies, but the bottom line is we do whatever it takes to keep our customers happy.