What to do when your air freight takes a vacation
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What to do when you've had a shipment sitting at the airport cargo lounge (warehouse) for over a month without knowing it was there.
This week's writing will likely apply to one (maybe 2) people, but even at that number, it's good enough to put down on proverbial paper.
If there is one thing I have learned so far after being in business for 740 days and counting, there will never be an online guide to help you figure out what you need to do. There is no outstretched hand of an elder to guide you through the uncertain next steps to take that will minimize your risk and maximize your chance of success. Ultimately you are faced with taking action and relying on your intuition.
This is the case of the airfreight shipment going awry.
I had wool knitwear produced in England that ultimately needed to find its way to our warehouse here in New Jersey. The communication with the factory producing the knitwear was solid through the entire process — changes that were communicated were met with follow-up clarification questions etc. Between the end of production (booking the air freight) and the time that the product arrived here in Newark, New Jersey, there was a miscommunication (this is likely my fault — mistake #1, as I should have incessantly followed up on the whereabouts + proper documentation needed).
I have imported before, but usually, the freight forwarder that the manufacturing company had a prior relationship with handled the shipping and last-mile delivery (from when the product arrives in the USA to when it gets to our warehouse). This was the pretense I was operating under and should have clarified with (my mistake #2).
Anyway… I found out around January 5th, 2023, that the cargo has been at Newark airport since December 16th, 2022. Alarm bells immediately start going off for me since I know that freight will always incur storage fees (sometimes piling up so fast it makes marking the product as "abandoned" more cost-effective).
Step 1 in the retrieval process: Get the shipment cleared with United States Customs and Border Protection.
Google the "airport in question (mine was Newark) Customs and Border Protection broker."
You will arrive at a result that features the "cbp.gov" website (shown below)
You will find the link to the "List of brokers for your port #."
You will arrive at a list that looks like the one below. Each of these links is to someone who can help you get this shipment cleared with US Customs… however, (at least in my case for Newark) many of these links contain no website, no phone number, no email — just an address of operation. Contact them all if time is of the essence (which it will be if you incur storage fees).
Your customs broker is going to most likely need (have #2-4 ready to send… #1 will be given to you by the customs broker):
You to sign a POA (you'll need a copy of your government ID as well as a copy of your social security card)
A copy of your Airway Bill, also called AWB (get this from the manufacturer)
A copy of your packing list (get this from the manufacturer)
A copy of the commercial invoice (get this from the manufacturer)
Once the broker gets the shipment cleared with customs, you will have to pay both the broker's fees and whatever charges are owed to the government for the payload — get that settled.
With the package cleared, you are free to arrange for pickup from the cargo holding center of the airport. I called the United Airlines Cargo at Newark Airport phone number and explained the situation.
Google something along the lines of (airline air freight and then location) - "united airlines air freight Newark NJ."
From there, you will find the address you will use to pick up the shipment (clarify on the phone when you call them) and the contact information that includes the phone number. They will also be able to tell you how much you will owe in fees (if you aren't able to pick it up that day, have an estimated pickup date in mind and let them know that date so they can give you an accurate storage fee estimate).
Once this is completed, you will be ready to pick up the shipment. I am sure this part is handled differently by each facility. In our case, we walked in, provided the front desk with our airway bill # and they sent us to a dock number in the back of the warehouse to pull into. They loaded up our shipment into the U-Haul that we had rented and were on our way.
The above story is different from how the writings for The Minted Minutes usually go. The idea for writing this was born out of my frustration trying to figure it all out on the fly. Like I stated at the beginning… even if it helps a single person avoid the headache, I will be happy.
All of this to say… you can avoid (these unnecessary steps) by setting up your freight forwarding & customs clearance before the shipment arrives.
Last week's training block was 62 miles with 4 lifts:
Monday: 6 easy (Lift - Push)
Tuesday: 6 (2 easy and 4 @ 6:00) (Lift - Pull)
Wednesday: 12 easy (NO LIFT)
Thursday: 8 easy (Lift - Legs)
Friday: 6 (trackwork) (Lift - Push)
Saturday: 6 easy (No Lift)
Sunday: 16 Long (No Lift)
The new training plan has no rest days (a month and a half into the program). It has been a brutal switch as I was usually looking forward to the Monday rest day.