FMC CHAIR ACCUSES CARRIERS TO USE EXTRA FEES ONLY TO INCREASE PROFITS
In an interview with ShippingWatch published on 27 February, the Chair of the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Daniel B. Maffei accused ocean carriers to have charged extra fees from customers in order to increase profits parallel to the already elevated freight rates during last year.
Mr Maffei said: “They use all kind of fees. You can call them ’junk fees’ if you don’t get any value-add for them. For example, a peak season fee should just be incorporated into the rate. There’s nothing that says you can’t raise your rate, but carriers should be transparent about it.” ShippingWatch noted that extra fees caused a deluge of complaints from customers. They are frustrated that carriers charged fees for containers that were stranded in overloaded ports with shortage of labour to handle and bring boxes out. Customers are especially angry that carriers charged fees for periods that lay outside the terminals’ opening hours.
The new provisions of the OSRA which entered into force in June last year, and the ongoing implementation work by the FMC, have allowed customers of shipping lines to bring more complaints before the FMC over unjust and unreasonable treatment from carriers, especially regarding D&D fees or other surcharges. Mr Maffei noted that the complaint system has provided shippers the opportunity of being heard: “The fact that shippers file complaints, it could mean things got really bad, but I also think it could mean that shippers are gaining a little more confidence in the system.” He added: I will argue that carriers, terminals, and other regulated businesses should see OSRA as a good thing because what they want is a clear set of rules. Obviously, they don’t want it to go too far and subvert the market, but a lack of clear rules just means a race to the bottom.”