Misdirection: tales of woe


  • Date: 01/03/2007

Millions of containers are sent around the world, being offloaded and reloaded onto different ships at different hub ports, and 99.9% of them arrive at the right place, on time and undamaged. However, inevitably there are misunderstandings in bookings when so much cargo is on the move. Examples of these situations are illustrated below.

Ten containers of steel were booked by a shipper for Kaohsiung, but the booking clerk in the liner agent’s office had never heard of Kaohsiung and booked the containers for Cochin. By the time the error was discovered, the ten containers were at sea. Such things happen, and the cost should have been restricted to the additional costs incurred in unloading and reloading the containers and shipping them from the west coast of India to Taiwan. The problem was that the containers in which the steel was loaded belonged to a shipping line who refused to allow its containers to be sent to Taiwan, so the steel had to be unstuffed and restuffed, and in addition there were problems with the Indian customs authorities. The total cost of sorting this out eventually reached approximately USD 50,000.

In another case, a ship agent in Malta booked four containers of dried fruit destined for Melilla, Spain (port code MLN), but inadvertently used the port code for Manila (port code MNL). The containers did not reach Melilla in time for Ramadan, which is what they were intended for. Containers for Santiago have been sent to San Diego, containers for Houston, Pennsylvania have ended up in Houston,Texas. The list is endless and the cost of rectifying misdeliveries is sometimes considerable.

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