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Friday, 24 September 2010 15:29

Tips for sending items through “balikbayan” boxes

The balikbayan box embodies the Filipino’s penchant for the pasalubong (bring-me-home goods from abroad that contain the fruits of overseas working parents’ hard work) and time spent away from their families. So what happens when your balikbayan box is pilfered, as in the case of Mrs. Sonia De Vera, a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia, who sent a package last February 2006 to her family in Iloilo?

balikbayan box

Mrs. De Vera contracted the services of a consolidator, ESQ Logistics, Inc., to deliver the package, declaring in the packing list that the box contained personal effects (letters, pictures, canned goods, toiletries, clothing, bottles of perfume, and a new pair of Nike basketball shoes) her graduation gift for her eldest son.

After a month, the package was delivered to her family, seemingly in good condition. But when the box was opened later, they discovered that several items were missing. Her husband then reported the pilferage to ESQ Logistics, who said it would investigate on the matter.

One of the missing items was the pair of basketball shoes, in which Mrs. De Vera had inserted 1,000 rials, something she did not declare in the packing list.

Upon coming home to attend her son’s graduation, she followed up the status of their complaint with ESQ Logistics. President and CEO Mr. Edgardo S. Quezon informed her that the company will pay the cost of the lost items amounting to P10,000.00 but not the 1000 rials which Mrs. De Vera claimed she inserted in the sole of the basketball shoes.

Mrs. De Vera did not agree with the offer of Mr. Quezon and demanded that she be refunded P25,000.00 to cover the cost of the lost items and the 1,000 rials. However, Mr. Quezon rejected this claim, so Mrs. De Vera filed a formal complaint with the Department of Trade and Industry - Philippine Shippers’ Bureau (DTI-PSB).

Upon PSB’s verification, it was discovered that ESQ Logistics Inc. is not accredited with the PSB, therefore operating without the requisite license.

During the mediation, Mr. Quezon said his company could not ascertain how the box had been pilfered but reiterated that they will shoulder the P10,000 cost of the missing items. As for the accreditation, Mr. Quezon promised to immediately secure accreditation with the PSB in order to operate legally.

But Mrs. De Vera still insisted that she receive P25, 000. The PSB informed her it is illegal to put money in balikbayan boxes.

What she did was tantamount to smuggling. The box should only contain items declared in the packing list provided by the shipper and verified by the cargo consolidator. In this case, Mrs. De Vera misdeclared her packing list to conceal an item that is not allowed to be included in balikbayan boxes. This can actually be a cause for the forwarder to file a case against her.

To Mrs. De Vera and others who would avail of freight forwarding services, the PSB gives these tips in preparing the correct packing list for balikbayan boxes:

  • List all items to be included in the box. Indicate the cost of the items, if possible, especially for valuable ones. Make at least 3 copies of the packing list (for the shipper, the consolidator, and the consignee.)
  • Money and jewelry should never be put in the box or inserted anywhere in the box.
  • Have the items in your balikbayan box checked and verified by the consolidator against your prepared packing list.
  • When the box is received by the consignee check first if there are any indication of pilfering. Open the box in the presence of the person who delivered it and check if the items are complete as indicated in the packing list.
  • Immediately inform the consolidator of any missing or broken items.
  • Make sure that the forwarder/ consolidator’s delivery agent in the Philippines is duly accredited with the Philippine Shippers’ Bureau.

List of PSB accredited freight forwarders can be found at www.business.gov.ph. Or call PSB at telephone numbers 751-3304; 751-0384 locals 2512 and 2513.

Send your feedback and queries to ro@dti12.org. For consumer complaints, call the DTI Consumer Welfare Desk Hotline (083)228-7622. credits: www.dti.gov.ph

Last Updated on Monday, 27 September 2010 10:02

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