Shipping regulations and customs processing are more complicated now than in any other time in world history; if there aren’t expert eyes on your order, you’re risking paying unnecessary fees, wasting time due to red tape, and missing deadlines.

A few years ago we worked with a customer who wanted to ship a 10’x20’ ocean crate of empty battery cells from Southern California to Shanghai, China. Our Director of Sales, Dimitri Malinbaum, foresaw a series of complexities with this job:

  • This was not going to be cheap, but there was no need for the job to cost an arm and a leg. Before providing the client with a sticker-shock price or an under-estimate, Dimitri knew further research was required.
  • Potential dilemma: do the empty battery cells contain any residual acid? If the answer to that question is “yes,” then the container would be considered hazardous.
  • If the shipment was hazardous, Dimitri would need to satisfy the safety standards as laid out on the product data sheet (MSDS) prior to pricing or booking the cargo.
  • Unlike most shipments of used battery cells, the manufacturer of this particular order (who happened to be based in China) was not able to immediately offer internationally accepted proof that the empty battery cells were 100% clean (that is free of acid and non-hazardous).

Here’s what happened:

Dimitri communicated all of these complications to the customer, emphasizing that any mistaken paperwork (such as an incorrect schedule B declaration), would most likely trigger a US customs inspection. This is something that is always to be avoided – even if the cargo is 100% in-line with US customs procedures, the red tape that comes with one of these inspections can delay a shipment by days or even weeks.

Because of Dimitri’s forward-thinking initiative and expertise in the industry, he was able to ask both the manufacturer of the battery cases and shipper for specific, necessary backup to prove that the cases were safe, and non-hazardous. Dimitri’s proactivity saved the client time by helping to avoid red tape and save money by not going down the proverbial hazardous rabbit hole.

To date, we have shipped nearly 100 containers for this customer with some traversing the furthest edges of North America and beyond. This client knows that they can trust us to get their shipment where it needs to go – on time, and on budget.

Looking at the past 35 years in the shipping business, it’s no surprise that more and more shippers are leaving behemoth freight forwarders for smaller, better prepared, managerial-type smaller freight service providers… like us!

ETC is honored and eager to help you with your next freight shipment – contact us for an estimate, we’ll reply within the same business day.



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