Here is an actual case study from a reader seeking advise on how to mitigate risks against negligent behavior by a freight forwarder regarding their import shipment from China to South Africa..
We recently ran afoul of a shipping delay that resulted in the cancellation of one of our orders with our principal client because of our failure to deliver the goods on time.
We could not deliver the cargo on time because our container did not arrive as booked and was ultimately delivered 20 days behind schedule. Added to that we could not get any credible information from the shipping line or the freight forwarder appointed by us.
Here’s what happened :-
- The arrival notification issued by the carrier to the freight forwarder at the destination port noted that our container was on board, except that it was not.
- We then sent clearing instructions to the freight forwarder to clear our container that was ‘not on board’.
- We followed up with freight forwarder repeatedly (right up until the day that the container should have been delivered to our warehouse) as to the progress made about clearing our container (that was not on board).
- The freight forwarder consistently informed us that all was according to plan and that the container would be delivered shortly, except that our container was not on board.
- Eventually 11 days after receiving the arrival notification from the carrier, on the actual day that the container should have been delivered to our warehouse, the penny finally dropped for our freight forwarder and we were informed that our container was: you’ve guessed correctly “not on board”, and had been delayed.
- We then followed up with the freight forwarder as to the revised ETA for our container.
- The freight forwarder then provided us with 4 new arrival dates in as little as 3 working days, on the third working day the vessel arrived.
- This constant misinformation provided us by the freight forwarder, from informing us that our container was originally on track, to the day of delivery to only then inform us our container was not on board, to providing 4 new arrival dates in 3 days made it absolutely impossible for us to communicate an effective delivery date or redelivery strategy to our customer – in fact we looked like complete idiots given all the useless information provided to us by the freight forwarder.
Now comes the cherry on top.
We submit a reasonable claim, without mark up, for the loss of our order (cancellation) only to be advised that per the Bill of Lading and the freight forwarders terms and conditions, that they do not entertain any claim for whatsoever reason, no matter if due to neglect or other.
My question(s) are these:
- Does a freight forwarder have no responsibility for acts of neglect such as above ?
- How can insurance companies assist importers to mitigate against these risks ?
- Is ‘neglectful responsibility’ the new accepted norm for responsible ?
- Does this mean that no matter the circumstances, in the end, the customer must pay for negligent service and not be able to hold anyone responsible ?
What is your opinion on options available to the customer to mitigate against such risks of negligent behavior by a freight forwarder (or for that matter any of the other service providers)..