Freight News, Sea

Forwarders carry the can for shipping surcharges, says BIFA

[ November 7, 2016   //   ]

The British International Freight Association (BIFA has been forced to repeat the call it made earlier this year for an end to shipping line surcharges.

Director general Robert Keen said that extra charges imposed by lines were mushrooming, with equipment imbalance surcharges from 1 November on the eastbound Europe/Asia trades, another line adding a peak season surcharge, administration fees and container sealing fees.

“Our members have become used to shipping lines adding peak season, fuel and currency surcharges, but the number of surcharges and fees continues to grow – often with no real explanation or justification. For instance, what does an extra ‘administration fee’ or ‘container sealing fee’ cover that is not in the standard service offered?”
Shippers can also be asked to pay surcharges when there is port congestion caused by labour unrest or bad weather, or haulage surcharges when there is a shortage of HGV drivers, he said, charges that forwarders have to pass on to their customers.

While they do all they can to minimise the effects, “there is sometimes an unfair perception that our members are to blame,” he adds.
“If a shipper enters a contract to buy goods they should know exactly what they are paying and that price should not change. If they use Incoterms they can buy ex works or FOB and control the supply chain. If they let their supplier arrange shipping, they have no control over the charges applied. But in either case, additional surcharges imposed by shipping lines should not be allowed.”