Complaints or Inquiries From Shippers or Other Business Entities Operating in the Industry
The situations and subjects that various firms have brought to the Commission's attention encompass virtually every aspect of business relations. Some matters clearly fall within the jurisdiction of other federal or state agencies, and those are expeditiously referred to the proper persons. Other matters involve violations of the shipping statutes, and these may be brought to the attention of the FMC's enforcement staff. Some complaints and inquiries call for interpretations of regulations, while others concern purely commercial disputes. It is in these areas that the Office of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services ("CADRS") offices may be of genuine service. Some examples include:
- shipper's inability to learn the location of a particular cargo;
- shipper's problem with defaulting NVOCC;
- shipper's difficulty in processing damage and loss claim;
- shipper's, or shippers' association's, failure to reach service contract agreement with carrier;
- freight forwarder's inability to collect rightful compensation from carrier;
- trucker's dispute with terminal operator's interpretation of equipment detention rule;
- terminal operator's complaint concerning the interpretation of a lease agreement;
- and carrier's objection to a shipper's or forwarder's document preparation.
Small Claims Procedure
An informal complaint may be filed with the Commission for claims of $50,000 or less, and when an evidentiary hearing on disputed facts is not necessary.
An informal complaint must:
- Allege violations of specific sections of the Shipping Act.
- Be verified (sworn).
- Be filed within three years of the violation, if seeking reparation.
- Include three copies of the claim and any supporting documents (for example affidavits, correspondence, bills of lading, paid freight bills, etc). Copies of tariff pages need not be filed.
- Be accompanied by a $209 filing fee.
Please contact the Office of the Secretary for a more detailed information packet on filing an informal complaint.