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South Korean electronic goods giant Samsung has become the latest major shipper to head to the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in protest at “unreasonable demurrage and detention” fees, in a complaint lodged yesterday against Israeli carrier Zim.

From the beginning of 2020, Samsung Electronics America (SEA) had contracted Zim on a door-store basis to transport imports into the US. Zim was responsible for both the ocean freight leg and the inland transport of containers from ports to distribution facilities.

However, Samsung alleges that, from late 2020, the inland US container supply chain began to fall apart, and while service levels declined and containers were left stranded at inland locations, Zim invoiced Samsung with up to 2,000 demurrage and 7,000 detention charges. But the shipper argues that Zim should be liable for these.

“In store door shipments, costs and charges relating to delays in the timely removal of containers from terminals (generally known as “demurrage” charges) should be borne by Zim, not a consignee like SEA,” it says.

In addition, SEA claims that when it disputed the invoices, Zim’s response was a threat to refuse to release SEA cargo to the shipper, which Samsung says was in breach of the OSRA 22 regulation that prohibits retaliation.

“Zim has repeatedly demanded payment of disputed demurrage and detention charges and invoices, and threatened various punitive actions against SEA if payments were not made, including refusing release of subject containers,” the complaint says.

Samsung also claims it was invoiced detention and demurrage charges for shipments that did not contain its cargo.

It noted that the ports covered by the dispute including Baltimore, Charleston, Houston, Jacksonville, New Orleans, New York/New Jersey and Savannah, indicating that the services the containers travelled on were likely Zim’s Asia-North America e-commerce strings via the Panama Canal.

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