FMC Investigates Demurrage and Detention Billing Practices
Detention and demurrage fees are being investigated by the FMC after skyrocketing in the last two years. Those fees are meant to incentivize the expeditious movement of containers in and out of the port to combat delays and bottlenecks. The fees are expressly not to be used in a putative manner. As the FMC investigates, they are particularly concerned with allegations that the detention and demurrage fees stem from a lack of appointment times available, a lack of equipment available, or any other issue that makes it impossible for recovery of the containers.
In the process of investigating these claims, the FMC is gathering evidence and information to make determinations on the basis of responsibility – evidence shippers should be keeping to support any claims they may have against the fees charged. The accuracy of records becomes a critical factor in combating erroneous fees and a complete communication reference should be available to show the steps you’ve taken to resolve the issue, even if the issues have not been resolved.
Misapplied fees are becoming increasingly common as the swell of cargo continues to enter the United States. With an investigation of this size, it will likely take time to sort out the different claims against fees, but BIG Logistics is standing up for our clients in these circumstances. If you are dealing with an unresponsive carrier charging you a fee that you believe is in error, come talk to us about supporting your future shipments, BIG Logistics is making sure our clients voices are heard!
As the FMC continues to gather evidence and investigate the detention and demurrage charges, they’re depending on the customers to report where those fees are being misappropriated to get a bigger picture of the structure and usefulness of having these deterrents in place.
We’ve seen some of these fees, or just the threat of fees do the trick when ports are ultra-congested. Los Angeles has postponed the escalating fee structure as the congestion slightly abated with only the announcement of the fees, exactly the way they are intended to work. Compounding the delays with excess fees, especially fees that are applied with no fault in cases where the port itself was inaccessible, is, frankly, infuriating. We are right by the side of our clients, pushing back against any whisper of seeing them taken advantage of even just by an honest mistake.
We’re all in this together. This industry is our passion and our calling. BIG Logistics is working every day to act as an advocate and educator where our clients need it. It’s our promise to continue pushing for fairness throughout the disruption.