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Risky Business - What You Should Know

As you can imagine, the staff at Dieterle & Victory have, collectively, seen a large number of problems during their working lives, some of which repeat themselves all too often. The following is a list of traps for the unwary and potential problems that can be avoided with some forward planning and knowledge.

1. Free storage?

When you are expecting delivery of a container at your premises, you should pre-arrange to have the appropriate equipment and personnel there to facilitate the unpack. Containers need to be returned 10 days after becoming available from the wharf so, to avoid storage charges, cargo will need to be unpacked and the empty container returned to the wharf within this timeframe.

2. "If anything goes wrong, I'm covered, aren't I?''

Yes, but probably substantially less than what you would expect. All carriers have maximum liabilities and in many cases, the carrier's liability is significantly less than the value of your goods. As a consequence, there can be quite a sizeable shortfall, meaning you won't be able to recover the total value of your goods. That is, unless you are insured.

3. Insurance. Do I need it?

Buying insurance is a good precaution to cover costs incurred by damage to, or loss of your goods before they arrive. Loss of cargo is not the only mishap which insurance can cover. For example, if the vessel carrying your goods is damaged, you may be expected to pay for expenses involved in its' repair, normally called a general average. Whilst this is not very common, a general average can needlessly set you back thousands of dollars.

4. Something seems to have gone missing...

The most common mistake seen in claims departments is people signing for cargo they didn't count, or didn't receive. So, before signing for your delivered goods, be sure to count the number of pieces that have arrived and check that they match up to the amount shown on the documentation. In doing so, you can ensure that everything you have ordered has arrived.

5. Shouldn't the shipper arrange the freight?

If you are dealing with a shipper you do not regularly trade with, you should probably ask yourself "how well do I know this shipper ?". After all, the person best equipped to look out for your interests, is you. Even if you know the shipper well, you should keep in mind that ultimately you, the consignee, pays the freight and it would therefore be good policy for you to nominate the service you use to transport your goods.

6. Weight Vs Measurement

Airfreight charges are sometimes calculated on the volume of a shipment, rather than the weight. The chargeable weight of a shipment is the greater of the actual weight of a shipment or its cubic volume. The cubic volume or volumetric weight is currently determined at a rough ratio of 1m3 = 167 Kgs. So, if you know the dimensions of your freight, you might want to check the volumetric weight first, before moving it by air.

7. Things that go bump in the night. This wont hurt, did it?

Shipping and air freighting - it's not a simple business. No matter how well planned and handled, things can and do go wrong in international transportation. If you have a deadline, then give yourself "disaster room", a time buffer to allow for any unexpected delays in the extensive process of delivering goods from the supplier's door to your door step. Simple steps you can take to avoid such delays are placing your orders early and being realistic about your targets.

8. Mark your freight

When LCL cargo is received at a depot, it is allocated a receipt number to track its' location. However, it has been proven time and again, that the ultimate way your cargo will be found is by the markings on the freight itself. Despite high-tech computer systems, bar coding and all the technological advances of the 21st century, the bottom line still comes down to marking the freight. This should not just be a label with your name and address but something in bold letters that stands out and is unique to any other markings on the freight. You should also include the port of discharge when marking the freight.

9. Pillage and theft

An unfortunate fact of life is that cargo gets stolen, despite the best efforts of all concerned. If your cargo is prone to theft, then there are some things that you can do to try and avoid this.

These are:-

10. Out Of Order ??? Didn't I send you a copy of the order?

The whole process of cargo tracking is predicated upon knowing that a purchase order has been raised. If you can copy us in when you issue a purchase order, we can then start the process of coordinating the movement. This way, we can keep you updated from the very beginning.

11. FOB is the same everywhere, isn't it?

Most people in shipping understand the term FOB. In essence, it means that the price quoted includes the cost of the goods, the packing and the delivery to wharf/terminal/place of receipt. It also includes documentation costs, that is, everywhere except the USA. In the USA, FOB means FOB truck. It means no inland, no receiving charges - nothing is included in the price, except the cost of the goods and packing. This unusual bend on international terminology is a trap for all new importers from the USA, so it is important to be aware of this.

12. Letters of credit for airfreight?

It is not a good idea to put documents through a bank for airfreight consignments, The reason for this in that your cargo will arrive days and sometimes weeks before the documents. This would then result in storage charges accruing and these can be quite steep, depending on the size of your consignment and how long it has been in storage for.

13. Cartage costs are always the same, aren't they?

Well, yes, but no. If D&V quote you a cartage rate, we will honour that rate however, it should be noted that the rate quoted has a specified "free waiting time'' included. This "free waiting time" (usually 2 hours) incorporates time spent at the clients premises and/or the depot or terminal. Unfortunately, queues still exist at depots/ terminals and sometimes drivers can wait from 1 hour up to 4 -5 hours in queue. lf the "free waiting time" is exceeded, demurrage charges will be invoiced by the trucking company and unfortunately, we have no option but to pass these onto the client.

14. Can I take as long as I like unpacking my container?

Yes, however import containers should be returned to the shipping line within 10 days after the first available day at the wharf - failure to do so will incur demurrage charges. These charges are levied by the shipping line which means that you or I have no control over their application. It should also be noted that we require two working days notice to arrange pick up of your empty container and that these two days will be considered in any demurrage charges payable by you, the importer.