Vanishing Values In Shipping
As the calamity in international logistics steams forward from highly inflated freight rates to equipment shortages, from heavily congested terminals that have already been lacking the necessary infrastructure to handle growing demand even before the pandemic to truck shortages, the foundations of the entire shipping industry are being tested.
The mega carriers have recently been on a race with each other to announce proud profits that have not been seen in decades at a time they also seem to have begun to forget entirely about the traditions and core values of this very challenging but at the same time a unique and beautiful business; shipping.
Not too long ago and definitely not on a different planet, there used to be a saying that goes "our word, our bond" which meant for something that explains a culture goes centuries back to the origins of the industry. While the liner contracts "promising (!)" to move and deliver cargoes at agreed rate levels for the duration of contractual periods turned to meaningless pieces of paper this year and the regulatory lawmakers have only chosen to watch, the shippers, in addition to paying the most expensive cost ever to move their cargo after going through several hoops, must also deal with historically the worst customer services served on the table by their counterparts.
On a typical day, if a shipper has the courage to call a global carrier's customer service line because of a necessity in which the case is often; the e-mails about whatever the problem is, are not responded by the line for several days, then the average waiting time on the phone will likely be not less than 30 minutes until someone real and is made from flesh takes the call. And if he or she is having a lucky day - and usually unlucky days are more common -, the customer representative will take care of the problem whatever it might be from wrong billing to pending issuance of a bill of lading, from solving a detention matter to a container that arrived at shipper's facility with holes on its roof which is supposed to be seaworthy at the first place and who will pay the cost for second time trucking the replacement unit without holes?
As the carriers keep pouring money into brand new ships, AI, EDI, blockchain and many awesome things that have been doing, they might be forgetting about the undeniable importance of human touch in shipping. Core players of the industry should remember that no matter of what the shipping is still people's business and let's hope that the big boys will remember that one of these days.