It is important you read the fine print and are happy with the terms of agreement you make in the freight forwarding process. This includes Matters Affecting Performance which you will find on many carrier’s Bill of Lading.
MLB Makes An Unusual Request
It was a most unusual request even for the most seasoned transportation professional. In the summer of 2002, an official from Major League Baseball asked a container carrier if they could send a helicopter out to a ship anchored in the Port of Los Angeles to remove a container from the ship. The container was packed with promotional goods for the all star game taking place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If the product wasn’t there in time, it was worthless. The ship was at anchor in the port along with dozens of others due to a work slowdown caused by a contract dispute between the Longshoremen’s Union and the Maritime Employers Association. The shipping line was not able to assure Major League Baseball that the container would be off the ship in time for the All Star Game, despite receiving the cargo well in advance of the scheduled arrival date. Had all gone according to plan, there would be no talk of helicopters rescuing freight. A rescue that would have been completely at the expense of the importer, not the carrier.
Matters Affecting Performance
Many shippers do not realize that when they contract carrier services. The carrier is under no obligation to complete the terms of the contract if there are extenuating circumstances preventing them from delivering the goods. On the back of most ocean bills of lading is a clause that outlines Matters Affecting Performance. Here is the terminology used on the bill of lading from a major container carrier: Without prejudice to any rights or privileges of the Carriers under covering Bills of Lading, dock receipts or booking contracts or under applicable provisions of law, in the event of war, hostilities, warlike operations, embargoes, blockades, port congestion, strikes or labour disturbances, regulations of any governmental authority pertaining thereto or any other official interferences with commercial intercourse arising from the above conditions and effecting the Carrier's operations, the Carriers reserve the right to cancel any outstanding booking or contract of carriage. At carrier’s option, cargo in transit may be enrouted to a different discharge port or destination for cargo delivery. Any additional cost associated to this arrangement shall be for account of cargo.
Shippers Must Be Prepared
Shippers should take careful note of the wording particularly as it includes port congestion and strikes. At what point does congestion in the Port of Vancouver become so great that the carrier will invoke the clause? Would a rail strike cause shippers to pick up their cargo in Seattle, or even Prince Rupert? The risk to the shipper is added costs and delays, and perhaps as was the case with Major League Baseball, perishable promotional goods possibly missing their delivery date. In the end, Major League Baseball absorbed the costs of trucking containers over 2,000 miles from Los Angeles, California to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. An unexpected but necessary expense to get all of the all star game memorabilia to the fans attending the game.
You Have A Helping Hand
The world of international freight can have many twists and turns. You can be prepared with the help of the experts at PCB Freight Management. Contact us for all your freight forwarding and logistics needs.