The Federal Maritime Fee (FMC) is investigating alleged extreme tariff charges that ocean carriers cost shippers. The result may result in new tariff rules.
An Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) wanting into the matter, scheduled to be revealed within the Federal Register on Thursday, is the most recent motion by the FMC on container service billing practices, together with an investigation into charges for services that may not have been part of the shipping contract.
“The fee observes that carriers are charging extensively various charges and imposing various minimal necessities for entry to frequent service tariffs,” in response to the discover. “The fee seeks info concerning the impression of such charges and minimal necessities on public entry to frequent service guidelines, charges, practices and costs in revealed tariffs and whether or not current charges or necessities are unreasonable.”
The flexibility for shipper prospects to achieve entry to tariffs is especially vital in periods of transportation fee volatility — as is the case at the moment in container shipping — to make sure that shippers are conscious of probably the most present relevant charges, the FMC’s discover factors out. “Some tariff entry charges could also be so excessive that they successfully forestall tariff customers from reviewing sure service tariffs, notably these with substantial minimal costs, equivalent to $1,000 or $1,500,” the ANPRM states.
“This may be a problem, not just for shippers who primarily ship cargo beneath tariff charges, but additionally for shippers utilizing service contracts. As soon as the shipper’s minimal amount dedication beneath the service contract has been fulfilled, the service typically charges subsequent shipments beneath its tariff charges. Because of this, shippers might have a have to entry tariffs to find out the relevant fee for his or her cargo as soon as the quantity dedication for his or her service contract has been fulfilled.”
The FMC mentioned it’s also involved with “extensively various” interpretations and inappropriate utility of “pass-through” costs to shippers with out markup (to not exceed the cost the frequent service incurs) in reference to shipments transferring beneath frequent service tariffs. It’s notably the case for non-vessel-operating frequent carriers (NVOCCs — which carry out all of the companies of an ocean service besides with out working the vessels), the company notes.
“The follow of some carriers to incorrectly pass-through costs may deny the shipper full transparency concerning the full freight costs that may apply to a cargo, in addition to deprive the shipper of advance discover of any enhance in these costs,” in response to the discover.
The FMC is looking for feedback concerning pass-through costs on six particular questions:
- For an ocean frequent service (VOCC), what are the standard costs that aren’t beneath its management and for which the ocean frequent service merely acts as a group agent?
- For an ocean frequent service, how does its tariff specify or handle these costs for which it merely acts as a group agent?
- For an NVOCC, what are the standard costs that aren’t beneath its management and for which the NVOCC merely acts as a group agent?
- For an NVOCC, how does its tariff specify or handle these costs for which it merely acts as a group agent?
- How do frequent carriers talk to shippers that the so-called pass-through costs are for the account of shippers?
- How can shippers be assured that frequent carriers acquire pass-through costs with out including any markup?
Feedback are due 60 days after publication within the Federal Register.