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The Forwarders Lament

News: 8 June 2015

At any given time we are monitoring several hundred shipments for dozens of clients.
Fast air, or slow sea, FCL, LCL, courier or consol deferred – every shipment is different, every shipment fraught with the risks of delay or damage.
When considering each option, the ETA (Estimated Time or date of Arrival) is usually a major consideration – unfortunately many consider ETD to be the very latest date / time of arrival…
Every Bill of Lading or Air Way Bill will have terms and conditions in very fine print, excluding any claim for delays in transit – since time immemorial, ship owners have been unable to tame inclement weather or Force Majeure, and won’t accept any liability as a consequence.
Right at the start we try to ascertain the requirements for each shipment, usually:
“When does it need to be here?”
“How much are you prepared to spend to achieve this?”
There is often one question the importer does not consider:
“What is the cost if there is a delay?”
We use our knowledge, our experience and our contacts to provide what we consider the “best” combination of rate and service to achieve the objectives set – more often than not, compromises are made by the client once the options are put forward.
Unfortunately there are clients who believe that airline and shipping schedules (as above, the ETA), once nominated become cast in stone, that a date indicated becomes guaranteed, all too often cutting things far finer than prudence (or hard earned experience) dictates as being wise. I’m all for “Just in Time” planning, but frequently no allowance is made for delays.
Ships and aircraft are subject to the vagaries of weather, strikes, overbooking, breakdown and sometimes, just plain bad luck. Recent congestion in Long Beach and Cartagena has delayed literally thousands of containers – what consequences will a delay of a week or two bring?
Likewise, many shipments have to transit in busy ports like Singapore or Hong Kong – fabulously busy places handling tens of thousands of containers and hundreds of ships every day – it is understandable how a seemingly small problem can result in significant delays, missed connections, and unhappy consignees. 
Unfortunately, we as the bearer of bad news, often become part of the “blame game”, particularly when deadlines are missed. Many importers are shocked and surprised by the inevitable costs that delays bring, then seek to recover these from where ever they can. Unfortunately, 


News added by: Don Malcolm on 8 June 2015

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