Shipper complaints about demurrage and detention (D&D) charges by carriers have been many, especially over the Coronavirus period, when many facilities were congested and supply lines were overloaded. One of the main complaints was the uncooperative attitude of port terminals and yards when asked to release cargo.
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) held a hearing over one case involving Evergreen, a major container carrier, and trucker TCW Inc, in December. Evergreen was forbidden to make per diem charges on days when the motor carrier could not pick up the cargo.
The essence of the FMC argument is that you can’t charge D&D when it’s impossible to pick up the container. Frequently ports and yards may have reasons to deny a trucker from picking up, but if it doesn’t lead to congestion and is the yard or terminal problem, the carrier can’t charge D&D.
The latest case involves carrier Hapag-Lloyd and rail line CSX, versus a Wisconsin forwarder, ME Dey, and the trucker New Age Logistics. Hapag-Lloyd has already waived over $150,000 in charges, and the case is still ongoing. CSX rail may well cave in also.
The principle established by the FMC is important, and may prevent some D&D charging errors in freight bills. Carriers are going to need to be careful and monitor conditions at the facilities holding the containers.
This may go some way toward increasing communication among logistics ‘partners’. Now a carrier must keep informed about the conditions at the yard where the container is located. They will need to ask for information on a continuous basis, which they have a right to, because it is affecting their billing process. If the yard is closed for a holiday, or has the container under a big stack that cannot be moved fast, they will need to tell the carrier, so that the billing can be waived. This information exchange is a crucial part of the financial wing of the supply chain.
When there’s money involved, action often follows.
I think it’s great for the FMC to proactively insist on attention to the possibility of congestion. It will encourage yards to reduce it, and carriers to monitor it, and shippers to work to avoid it.
By Nick Savvides 03/01/2023FMC ruling could be crucial in other ‘unfair D&D fee’ complaints – The Loadstar