It appears that many of the ships waiting offshore in Shanghai are not waiting to unload, but to get new cargo. shipments out of China seem to be plummeting.
It’s leading to blanked or rescheduled sailings.
Perhaps the avalanche of post-COVID goods for the US and the EU has stopped. Perhaps we have enough inventory here and in Europe. If so, we should soon see the queues of waiting ships at US ports drop to more normal levels, and the same with Europe.
It’s getting to look more likely that a recession might appear in the US, and I think the same will happen in Europe. the Ukraine instability is bound to cause consumers to cut back and try to spend less and save more. In both places, that is likely to induce a recessionary trend. Consumer spending is a major part of economic activity in these countries.
R$at3es for container shipping from Asia to the US and Europe are still high. How long will it take for them to plunge down?
Spot rates for container shipments might be coming down from the stratosphere. There are a few indications, such as Xeneta’s XSI short-term index from Asia to North Europe.
If short-term rates really are coming down, what is going to happen to many new ocean shipping entrants in the trade from Asia? These new firms offer regular shipments with no blanking, faster transits, calling at less congested ports for faster unloads, status monitoring, and good communication.
Most of these firms have a limited number of smaller ships. The conjecture here is that they cannot survive if rates drop back to reasonable levels.
I think this position underestimates the value of on-time and reliable service. Many shippers will pay to get out of the bottleneck system the alliances are running, with large ships calling at large congested ports, and frequent delays of service, including simply canceling voyages if they aren’t full enough. You can’t have a viable business if you’re only on-time 30%-40% of the time. Lots of customers will choose another way.
We have already seen large container shippers such as Amazon, IKEA, and Costco choose dedicated service with captive vessels for some of their cargo. If it works well, that could expand, leaving the major alliances with less cargo to carry.
Interestingly, the large ocean carriers have a new name for what they are doing. Canceling a voyage is not to be called ‘blanking’, but rather ‘sliding’. Whatever you call it, it’s a disruption in service supposedly guaranteed.
It’s not going to be easy to sue a carrier for delays and blanked sailings. But whatever your taste, you have to document everything. The author, a lawyer, points to many types of documentation required to substantiate your claim.
I believe that the threat of many suits may well be useful to annoy carriers. They’re less likely to engage in reprehensible behavior like blanking if they know a bunch of shippers are going to be suing them. Those little lawsuits are annoying because each has to be dealt with somehow, and if the plaintiffs (shippers) are persistent, the annoyance may be enough to get the carrier’s attention.
Now there are two ways that attention can go. One way is that the carrier offers to settle and doesn’t complain too much. This may be a sign they care about your future business– at least a bit– or that they are taking a generous attitude toward customer service. The other way is hardball. They may deny everything and threaten you back. That is a sign they don’t want your future business, and just want to dispose of this claim to be able to tell authorities they have dealt with it. In this case, you probably won’t get anything, unless you have deep pockets for the law, and can pursue a case for which you are unlikely to recover your expenses.
And whatever action you take, don’t expect prompt resolution. One thing companies do is try to string out a case hoping the plaintiff loses interest or has a need to move on and not spend the time. That manages to get a lot of complaints off their back.
However, company lawyers are expensive too, and a stream of annoying lawsuits is not how the company wants its lawyers spending their time. So harassing the company with a lawsuit might get you some attention.