Customer Service Shelved By Shipping Lines Due To Difficulty In Booking Cargo

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  • agreements ‘being ripped up’ by lines as shippers are left in the dark on rates
  • many complain that carriers are refusing to answer booking desk phones, and are ignoring e-mails
  • shippers have complained that existing contracts have been ripped up by the carriers
  • carriers are changing the ‘shipped on board’ dates of containers to take advantage of an increase in rates
  • carriers have adopted the same pricing policy as the budget airlines – adjusting the rates continuously as ships become booked up

Customer service has effectively been shelved by the shipping lines, as shippers grumble that it is getting increasingly difficult to book cargo with them, let alone know what rate they will be charged says an article on The Loadstar.

Carriers ‘ignoring’ calls

Many complain that carriers are refusing to answer booking desk phones, and are “ignoring” e-mails. “We spend hours trying to contact the lines and they just let their phones ring out,” one frustrated director of an NVOCC told The Loadstar today.

Need to ask shippers for cargo

Despite what the carriers say publicly, they are “not interested” in talking about signing new contracts until after the Chinese New Year holiday in February, when the lines believe they might start to need to ask shippers for cargo.

Existing contracts ‘ripped up’

But until then, carrier sources have admitted, their booking visibility is showing full ships on main Asia to US and Asia to Europe trade lanes. Many shippers have complained that existing contracts have been “ripped up” by the carriers, with only reefer cargo now covered by agreements with current bookings forced onto highly elevated spot rates.

Taking advantage of the rate hike

Other contacts have reported how carriers are changing the ‘shipped on board’ dates of containers to take advantage of an increase in rates. One shipper claimed his carrier had ‘ignored the bill of lading date’ in preference to the sailing date of the vessel in order to take advantage of an interim rate hike.

Long-term contracts

And he said his long-term contract at a major shipping line had admitted that carriers had now adopted the same pricing policy as the budget airlines – adjusting the rates continuously as ships become booked up – without the low entry point. “At the moment, they have no interest at all in talking about long-term contracts,” he said.

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Source: The Loadstar

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