Wrong tariff used for container demurrage
Twenty-six containers were discharged in Antwerp and the port agents were requested by the consignees' forwarder to quote the daily demurrage rate per box. Their principal's rate was US$ 42 per box but the employee handling the enquiry referred erroneously to another line's tariff and quoted their rate which was only US$ 10 per box per day.
The lower figures encouraged the consignees to leave the boxes in the port for a considerable period and it was several weeks before the mistake was discovered. As soon as the error came to light the original invoice, based on US$ 10 per day, was reissued for the correct rate, but the consignees refused to pay the substantially higher charge and insisted that they were only liable at the lower rate.
The Club's lawyers advised that the correct amount of demurrage due from the consignees could not be recovered. The agents' principal, whilst sympathetic, insisted on recovery in full as he had quite properly filed his demurrage tariff with the FMC.
This simple error by the agents' employee cost their employers nearly US$ 60,000, which could have been very much more if the error had remained undetected for a longer period of time. Fortunately, the Club was able to relieve the agents of the problem and the ultimate loss.