20 November 2011

Dubious Cargo Forwarders

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can already smell the "Spirit of Christmas" this early and many will feel homesick just by thinking about how Filipinos celebrate the Holiday season. And even if it is hard to earn money abroad, OFW will still continue to entertain request for gifts from their families back home.

However, sending precious gifts using their hard-earned money will not be as smooth a process as OFW would like it to be. There are several reports about an increasing number of delinquent sea freight forwarding companies responsible in causing delivery delay and non-delivery of Balikbayan boxes and pilferage, over-charging, and loss and damaged cargoes.

The Consulate General in San Francisco, California received notification from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to caution OFWs not to utilize the services of the following companies which have derogatory records at the Philippine Shipper’s Bureau (PSB):
  • Ford Cargo International of Hong Kong
  • Associated Consolidations Express (ACE Cargo) of Northern and Southern California and local counterpart Associated Consolidation Express (ACE) Cargo of ParaƱaque City
  • Smooth Express of Dubai
  • Express Link Cargo Services of United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • SCRL Cargo of Ireland
  • NACA Logistics of California and Illinois
  • Shipping Express of Chicago
  • Dagupan Cargo Packaging Services of UAE
Items that are not allowed to be sent through Balikbayan boxes include currencies, checks, money orders, traveler's checks, jewelries, firearms, ammunitions, explosives, prohibited drugs and other substances, pornographic materials, gambling cards, toy guns, and pirated products (i.e. DVDs, CDs, tapes, etc.)

The following are a few tips to ensure that Balikbayan boxes reach their destination.
  1. Organize all the things you to send
    This would give you an idea on the size of box you would need to use. Check out how much shipping would cost per box size (door-to-door charges, other fees, if any).
  2. Book your boxes only with DTI-PSB-accredited sea cargo consolidator/freight forwarder companies
    These companies normally have Philippines counterparts who must have accreditation from DTI-PSB if by sea or from the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) if by air. Senders may verify the company name of the Philippine sea freight forwarder counterpart at www.dti.gov.ph under the Consumer Welfare and Business Regulation section.
  3. Beware of exceptionally very low rates
    Most complaints for non-delivery involve cargo shipments that usually charge very low door-to-door rates. In these cases, the foreign principals do not have enough funds to bear the cost of transporting the cargo, which is compounded by their failure to remit releasing and delivery funds to their Philippine break-bulk agent, causing the shipments to be abandoned at the ports.
  4. Declare your shipment
    Accomplish a detailed packing list stating all the contents of your box and value of shipment, per item if possible, as well as your preferred shipping date. Inquire about proper or standard (or extraordinary, if needed) packing, wrapping, strapping, sealing, and labelling requirements of your box.
  5. Secure transport documents
    These documents may include cargo receipt (or Official Receipt) for fees paid and Bill of Lading, a document issued by a transportation carrier to the shipper of proof that they have received the cargo shipment and have placed them on board a particular vessel for delivery cargo shipments are to be carried and delivered.
  6. Get the name and contact details of the fowarder's agent in the Philippines
    Be sure that the information are clearly indicated in the transport document and/or receipt.
  7. Monitor the movement of your cargo
    Monitoring can start from origin to destination to make sure it is being shipped and delivered. You may inquire about a tracking scheme or continuously contact the forwarding company. You may ask them to provide you details such as the name of shipping line, vessel's name, voyage number, container number, and expected time of departure and arrival of your cargo/package.
  8. Inform your consignee to check your cargo
    This can be done with the Philippine freight forwarding agent even before it arrives. When it does, make sure to inspect the seal and wrapping of the box before signing the delivery receipt. If you observe that the box has been tampered with, do not receive the cargo/package and ask the delivery agent to have it double-checked.
If you encounter pilferage or lost item, or nondelivery, file an immediate claim or complaint with the freight forwarder's customer service. You may also lodge your complaint directly to the Philippine Shippers' Bureau at 2nd Floor, DTI Bldg., 361 Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City, or call DTI Direct at +632 751-3330 for assistance. The PSB may impose monetary fines, suspension, or cancellation of accreditation on freight forwarders violating PSB policies on balikbayan boxes pursuant to A.O. No. 6 series of 2005.