Unexpected charges are something we all want to avoid. You’ve planned your costs and then, often through no fault of your own, an event happens and you’re faced with extra charges.
Detention from late container returns is one of the most frustrating. It makes it even more difficult when you cannot even physically return the container.
Recently, severe weather at the Port saw important safety measures put in place, such as the closure of some empty parks. The backlog of returns the next day, added to park clean up activities, which some operators faced even further delays.
There is something you can do.
A discussion with the General Manager Operations of a major line shows that many proactive lines understand the issues and want to help. The Manager made these three significant points:
- In Force Majeure or other major instances, they will generally give consideration to reasonable requests. It’s best to be proactive and call to see if they can assist.
- Reasonable extensions may be considered. They will not consider a request where something like a one day delay leads to a request for long extensions.
- They will not extend any arrangement with anyone who is not a party to the “contract”. It is the customer who is paying the bills, with whom the line has the commercial relationship, who needs to have the discussion with the line.
Ask yourself, then, these simple questions:
- What’s your line’s policy on detention? (do you even know how many days you have, which parks you can take the container, how flexible your line is when you are in trouble, etc.?)
- Is there something else you can do to dehire the container? (use a different park, use Container Control in 1-stop, triangulate, etc… anything to avoid returning the container late)
- Do you know who the right contact partner is at the line? (who can you call who has the authority to extend the detention?)
Once you’ve considered all the alternatives, if you still need to, contact the line as soon as possible. It is much more difficult to get an extension of detention after it has already expired.
Finally, as we get closer to peak season, the Port Operations Task Force is updating the “Guide to Industry – Applying for shipping line detention fee relief”. As soon as the information is available from the shipping lines for this Christmas, industry will be informed of the update. Be watching.