An Adelaide based commercial importer in October 2022 purchased second hand machinery from the Netherlands; the Dutch exporter was offered a DAP service by MAERSK through to Adelaide. The Adelaide importer accepted the quote thinking that the goods would arrive at their premise and that MAERSK would be providing everything from point A to point B.
The 40” high cube container departed Rotterdam on 09 November 2022; the container arrived into Flinders Ports on 24 December.
A dysfunctional sequence of events occurred. On 21 December MAERSK asked the importer for their Australian Business Number [ABN], MAERSK advised that they could not assign the Australian import charges until they had the ABN and that the container could not be released until the ABN was provided by the importer.
I’ve never seen more of a dogs breakfast import than this shipment
On 23 December, MAERSK advised that they had asked MAERSK Rotterdam to create a customer code for the Adelaide business. On 27 December MAERSK invoiced the importer for the Adelaide port charges of $875.
On 04 January, the importer asked MAERSK ‘when will the container be delivered?’. On 05 January, MAERSK asked the importer ‘what is the delivery address and what direction would you like the container doors of the container facing?’ On 06 January, MAERSK advised the importer that he needs to ‘find a customs broker’.
The importer contacted us on 06 January advising that MAERSK had told him they could not do the Australian customs clearance and that he had to source his own customs broker. 1) We arranged the customs clearance on the same day, 2) we arranged the DAFF direction to have the full container unpacked on the same day, 3) we were ready to pay Flinders Ports for their storage fees and 4) we had transport ready to collect the container from Flinders Ports.
MAERSK would not hand over the Delivery Order even though the importer had signed MAERSK’s Letter of Authority. MAERSK advised that they could not provide us with the Delivery Order as the origin office would need to approve this change; this would add more days to the process – which would in effect, add more storage and detention days. The importer had been liaising with MAERSK employees based in the Philippines, Australia and other worldwide locations. MAERSK frustrated the process and advised that only they could collect the container from Flinders Ports [an interesting fact was that MAERSK relied upon the same transport company we relied upon to collect the container from Flinders Ports] and take it to the DAFF depot.
The goods were delivered to the DAFF depot on 09 January, unpacked, MAERSK returned the empty container to the empty container depot on 13 January and then delivered the loose items to the importer on 23 January.
As this shipment was a DAP, the contract was between the Dutch exporter and MAERSK Netherlands; however, MAERSK Australia allowed the Australian importer to sink in storage costs at Flinders Ports totalling $5015.11 plus GST. MAERSK also allowed the Australian importer to sink further with detention on the container calculated at $2720 plus GST.
It is my opinion that MAERSK cannot provide what they are attempting to offer; MAERSK were negligent in what they didn’t do and MAERSK should stick to their own lane.
This is not an isolated case; other importers and customs brokers have reached out to me to tell me similar stories. I would be interested to hear further from fellow readers if similar instances have happened to your customers. MAERSK is not the only shipping company attempting to offer this service; the other major shipping company that is attempting to offer this service also has major hiccups in their service offering.
In closing, for those that don’t know me, I have been a customs broker for twenty-four  years and have operated Platinum Freight Management since November 2000.
I have completed a Masters in International Revenue Administration and a Masters in International Customs Law and Administration. I have been employed by TAFE N.S.W for fourteen years as a lecturer in Customs Brokering; concentrating on the classification of commodities that enter and exit Australia.