Asking for “approved freight forwarders” is like asking for beef in your hamburger…
If you’re biting into a hamburger for the first time, and never knew what they were made of before sinking your teeth in, you’re very likely to ask, “what’s in it,” right? After all, we don’t want to take any chances with the food we put into our bodies, because what if it’s something we have an aversion to or know that our bodies can’t handle?
The same should go for your frieght shipping. If you’ve never done it before, you should ask about what is involved. Are you using secure facilities? Are your shipments properly crated and packed? Are your freight forwarders approved by the Federal Maritime Commission? And are they doing everything you need and expect them to do?
If you don’t ask these questions, you may find yourself in a sticky predicament, so let me help you understand their implications and other questions you should be asking.
For many of you, freight shipping has been apart of your life for a long time, so it’s obvious that you should only be dealing with approved forwarders, but that’s when it can REALLY sneak up on you! It’s like when you see your favorite hamburger joint being showcased on the news for trying to pass something else for hamburger meat.
We take things for granted, expecting the folks we’re dealing with to be honest and totally forthcoming about what they’re doing for us, how they’re doing it, and what is expected, so we SHOULD end up with services that exceed our expectations at costs that do anything but.
Ah, but the world is full of surprises, so in order to help you avoid the unnecessary headaches and costs associated with international and overseas freight shipping, here are some helpful tips.
1. Start with Approved Freight Forwarders ONLY
Folks looking to ship freight internationally should be prudent to use only approved freight forwarders that have been vetted and certified by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) for ocean transport, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for air transport.
As unfortunate as it is, some fraudulence does occur in the freight forwarding industry, and it can come back to you if you are involved, even as an unwilling or unknowing participant. There are hefty fines issued by the FMC and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for noncompliance to all parties involved.
So, it is very important for customers to make sure that whatever freight services they utilize are FMC and IATA certified freight forwarders.
2. Are you Looking for White Glove Delivery?
Once you are sure of the proper certification of your chosen freight forwarder, which really should be the first priority item on your list of mandatory criteria, you can start working down your list of other priorities.
High up on that list is no doubt economy of freight costs, but you may need and require more than just a good rate to get his cargo from point A to point B.
What if the cargo is delicate or you have limited resources for moving it once it arrives to your location? It may not be enough for a forwarder just to have cargo transported to the seaport or airport in the destination country. You may also need to arrange the delivery of the cargo to the actual door of the destination.
Many forwarders handle door deliveries to the actual destination point, so this is not TOO unusual of a request, but most will ONLY handle a curbside delivery, meaning that the cargo will only be delivered at the “curb” of the final door location, and it is your responsibility to handle the unloading, unpacking, un-crating, and moving / positioning / setting up of the cargo inside the final destination location, whether it be a commercial building or residence.
Finding a forwarding agent who can handle white glove deliveries which are the extra steps beyond the curbside delivery can be quite challenging, but not impossible. (interested in exploring our white glove delivery services? Get a quote today!)
What if you want to ship recently purchased furniture or exercise equipment from a manufacturer or distributor in foreign country to your residence in the United States? It probably means means that you are looking for the forwarder to not only ship the cargo but also arrange to deliver the cargo to your residence and handle all the unpacking, moving, and assembly within the residence.
Freight services provided by licensed, bonded, and certified freight forwarders usually involve the forwarder securing a deposit payment from the customer in advance before any arrangements will be made to expedite the shipping process. This deposit payment varies from forwarder to forwarder, but you can generally expect it to be around a third of the total estimated cost.
Deposit payments are needed in advance in order for the forwarder to be able to make payment to their third party logistics providers. For example,if you’re requesting a forwarder to export a shipment from the U.S.A. to a foreign country including a pick up from your door, the forwarder must pay the trucker in advance in order to expedite the pick up.
Always be prepared for costs to fluctuate too, because until a shipment has been completed and delivered to its destination, there are any number of things that could occur that would cause additional fees to be imposed, such as dealing with customs exams, storage, demurrage, detention, and port fees.
Now, if you’re dealing with a licensed, bonded, and certified forwarder, you’re much more likely dealing with somebody who hates those fees as much as you do, because we can’t profit from these situations.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with many unlicensed and non-certified freight forwarders in the industry that do in fact take advantage of customers in this way in order to profit as much as they can.
So, it is imperative that you seek out freight forwarders have the certifications and have been vetted and inspected by the governing federal agencies to ensure that they are compliant and also have ethical dispositions not to engage in activities that would cheat customers.
The governing federal agencies such as the FMC and TSA frequently audit us to ensure that our freight rates quoted to customers are in accordance with federal traffic law and that these we in no way take advantage of customers.
Do some research in advance of your shipping date to ensure that you find a forwarder that is fully licensed, bonded, and certified by the appropriate federal agencies.
Then, depending on what type of specialized, customized services that you need, ask questions, even if you assume they handle what seems obvious to you.
Interested in learning more about a TSA certified freight forwarder that can handle your specialty freight shipping needs? Contact us today!
Interested in downloading a calculator that helps you crunch your numbers into figures your agent can use to give you the best rate? Click HERE: