BIFA backs calls to end shipping surcharges

Recent calls to end shipping surcharges have been backed by the British International Freight Association. Robert Keen, director general for BIFA, has supported the Global Shipper Forum’s ambition to remove the surcharges within five years.

Keen said: “Forwarders do not like shipping line surcharges and we have been challenging their legitimacy on behalf of our members and their customers for many years.”

The extra fees are required when there is port congestion due to bad weather or labour unrest. Shippers can also be asked to pay haulage surcharges when there is a shortage of HGV drivers. The GSF has also recently complained about extra fees for container weight verification. 

“Our members have become used to shipping lines adding peak season, fuel and currency surcharges, but the number of surcharges and fees continues to grow – often with no real explanation or justification,” Keen added.

“For instance, what does an extra ‘administration fee’ or ‘container sealing fee’ cover that is not in the standard service offered? Why are our members and ultimately their customers, the shippers, being asked to pay extra for services which the port should provide as part of the contract?

“If a shipper enters a contract to buy goods they should know exactly what they are paying and that price should not change. If they let their supplier arrange shipping, they have no control over the charges applied. In any case, additional surcharges imposed by shipping lines should not be allowed.”