Friday afternoon . The weeks drawing to a close . All the trucks so far coming in and going out to Europe are on schedule . Then the phone call. The truck from Belgium with a full load of frozen food cannot get tipped in London . The reason . Broken pallets . This has not happened to our company very often , but it can prove to be a major headache .

Normally the first we hear about it is from our carrier . In this case ( a few months back), the haulier had arrived on time and they were very slowly unloading him . By hand . We had informed London, ( our customers , customer) at what time he was due to arrive and as usual he was dead on time . Nine am.

The first thing we did was inform our customer , in this case, a respected food importing company . The second thing we did was, get a photo. This was sent from the driver to us and passed on directly to our customer . This problem needed to be sorted out . The last thing any party wants on a Friday afternoon is a load rejected . Our customer is obviously concerned about any damage and our carrier needs to get away at a resonable time.

Our loss adjuster with (whom I have known since 1994) has told me in the past that this is a grey area as far as responsibilty is concerned . However , the photos showed that the pallets were straight and had simply broken at the end . And had not moved. The frozen food weighed 900kg . A normal pallet can carry 4600.00 Kg , so it was simply a matter of old pallets collasping .

If the pallets were leaning , either forward or to one side , it would be a strong possiblity that this was caused by erratic driving . In which case the responibity would lay, in my view with our carrier . And someone is responsible . Always. Eventually, after 7 hours of unloading by hand where needed , the truck was empty . A whole morning and most of the afternoon wasted .

In retrospect, all parties were fortunate that the truck was not simply rejected by the company in London . Then we would have had to sent it a coldstore to be unloaded . And of course costs would have had to be added .

In 25 years of freight forwarding as I have stated ,this has not happened very often . A few times in London market , once, I went down to help out !

The Punchline .

So, we had another order from the same customer a few weeks later . Frozen food coming in from Belgium . And the outcome? The same thing happened .

Now once , bad luck . But twice?

For me that was unheard of.  This was the fault of the shipper . If they have been warned about this problem before , the least they could have done was quality check their pallets . And so I decided not to send any more trucks into this shipper again . We have to trust all parties to be responsible.

If anyone has a view on this please comment below . I would be interested to hear other voices.

For full or part loads to Europe , please contact our freight forwarding service .

0131 203 3938. Or , info@culleneuropean.com.