Received Damaged or Inadequate Goods? What Now?

The success of imports and exports greatly depends on the quality of products that an importer receives. Importers and exporters sometimes find themselves in a predicament where cargo gets damaged during the trade process. And the products can’t always be repaired. The question then arises: who should carry the risk and costs for these damaged products? And what should you have in place in order to minimise the amount of money lost in the process?

If one receives damaged or irregular full container loads

Firstly the exporter should ensure that no damaged goods get loaded into the container. The way goods get packed is very important. Losses from improperly packed containers add up to $5 billion a year worldwide. Once a container is loaded, a shipper often thinks that all is well and considers it as somewhat invincible. That is far from the truth. These containers are built rugged for a reason. Their average lifespan is approximately 20 long, harsh years, and they experience a variety of extreme climatic and physical stresses before they are scrapped. Therefore cargo needs to be packed properly.

When an importer receives damaged or irregular full container loads they must:

1). Inspect the container before opening it. Check the container and seal numbers against the documents to make sure that the correct container arrived at the destination. Note any damage or seal number discrepancies on the container.

2). Sign and date the note with details of the damage or discrepancy

3). Contact the carrier immediately and request that a representative is sent to inspect the damage.

Very important: Do not open or unload the container before the carrier’s representative arrives.

4). Notify all parties who handled the container, as well as the marine insurer, of the problem and the possibility of a claim. For this reason it will be sensible to always apply for cargo insurance.

If cargo is missing

If the container is undamaged, and the container and seal number are correct, but goods are missing, the importer should lodge a claim against the supplier or the insurers of cargo. The importer must gather as much proof as possible. Take pictures of the cargo. Summarise the missing amount of items in detail and ensure that no other theft occur.

Very important: Lodge a claim as soon as possible.

If cargo is damaged

In an event that the cargo is damaged and you won’t be able to sell it, the importer should retain the goods and any packaging material for the purposes of inspection. Also ensure that no other damage occurs. If the goods were damaged because of water, the importer should remove the damaged goods from the undamaged goods, and retain the packaging material. Lodge a claim against either the carrier or the insurers of the cargo.

Also, it’s very important to note that the goods should not be repaired or disposed in any way before all inspections have been performed and approval has been given by the party against whom the claim has been lodged.

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