Shipping roulette for Singapore Taobao buyers as Hanjin Shipping goes bankrupt

Sep 29, 2016 01.57PM |

by Jonathan Leong

PROPERTY agent Mrs Angeline Neo, 35, thought she had her daughter’s birthday gift all sorted in advance.

But it nearly didn’t arrive on time.

She had bought the birthday gift from popular China shopping site Taobao, via Oops, scheduled for delivery on Sept 5. But due to Hanjin Shipping Company’s bankruptcy, her shipment was delayed until Sept 16. Oops had previously been using Hanjin’s services to ship products from China to Singapore.

Thankfully, the gift was still in time for her daughter’s birthday.

Mrs Neo is not the only one afflicted with delays in shipping goods bought from Taobao. She told TMG that a few of her friends are facing similar delays as well.

Hanjin’s bankruptcy has left some S$14 billion worth of goods stuck at sea due to many ports refusing to let its vessels berth for fears of not getting paid. The Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) has allowed Hanjin vessels to berth but all Hanjin cargo containers are being kept under PSA custody.

This means uncertain delays for Taobao forwarding agencies in Singapore, such as Ezbuy and Oops, which use Hanjin’s services. The agencies facilitate the purchase of goods from China retailers to Singapore and now have to deal with customers demanding to know when, or even whether, their goods will be delivered.

For the release of Hanjin cargo containers, these forwarding agencies will have to contact Hanjin to inform them of their intent to take charge of the delivery of the containers. Hanjin will then provide documentation to release the cargo and inform PSA of the release approval. The agencies or respective hauler companies will then have to arrange with PSA for the off-loading, storage and transport of the containers. These agencies are required to make a $5,000 deposit to PSA on each container. The deposit is refundable upon the return of the emptied Hanjin container back to PSA.

Oops has since switched over to Pacific International Line for its shipping needs. The company said on its Facebook page that it is currently the only service that has four vessels routed to Singapore weekly.

Ezbuy is still looking at alternative avenues to get its goods to Singapore while assisting customers who still have goods stuck on Hanjin ships.

Mrs Neo said that her friends who are using Ezbuy still have shipments stuck at sea and have only been told by Ezbuy that their shipment might be sent back to China, with delays ranging from one to two weeks.

Members of ‘Taobao For Those Who Don’t Know How’, a 14, 000-strong Facebook group for Taobao customers to share their experience and review products, have also been posting complaints about delivery delays or non-deliveries.

Facebook user Ms Li Ting said in a post dated Sept 8: “Mine too. I used EK and the shipper called me on Monday that delivery will take place on Wed/Thurs. Yesterday called again to say random custom check. Might be released today, delivery to take place on Fri/Sat. I asked if it has to do with it detained cause of Hanjin. Was told not.”

Another buyer, Mr Michael Chin, said on Sept 20: “Anyway still have container stuck inside”.

Meanwhile, though sales and deliveries of goods for the holiday season and electronics have possibilities of being aggravated by the bankruptcy, local retailers say they aren’t worried. Major electronics retailer Courts told TMG that their shipments have not been affected, as they don’t use Hanjin. Challenger declined to comment.

Hanjin is slated to submit a revival (get out of bankruptcy) plan to the South Korean court by Nov 25.


Featured image Hanjin Container Ship by Flickr user Ingrid Taylar. (CC BY 2.0)

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