The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has appointed more staff from the Philippine Shippers’ Bureau (PSB) as Consumer Arbitration Officers (CAOs) and mediation officers to handle the increasing number of complaints on balikbayan boxes.
Three more gives a total of six CAOs and mediators who will handle complaints on undelivered, lost, pilfered or damaged cargo, delayed delivery and overcharging of fees.
DTI-Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Officer-in-Charge lawyer Victorio Mario Dimagiba is confident that complaints will be acted upon promptly and resolved within the reasonable time, now that there are more CAOs and mediators.
“Through this measure, we expect an ease on the backlog brought about by the influx of complaints in 2011 and 2012,” Dimagiba explained.
Based on DTI-PSB’s 2013 records, there are 149 formal complaints involving nondelivery of balikbayan boxes shipped from various origins worldwide. Of these, 50 have either been delivered or picked up by the consignees through the assistance of DTI-PSB. Meanwhile, nine cases were withdrawn by the complainants, 21 were referred to regular courts, one was closed, and 68 still needs additional information from the complainants, which are for DTI-PSB’s disposition.
“Freight forwarders which have failed to effect delivery of cargoes are facing revocation of accreditation, cease and desist orders and payment of penalties, after due process by PSB’s CAOs or the DTI-Office of Legal Affairs [OLA]. There were also several complaints which were endorsed to the Department of Justice for appropriate investigation for swindling/estafa,” Dimagiba said.
In addition, DTI-PSB received 95 formal complaints for lost, damaged and pilfered cargoes and overcharging of fees. Of these complaints, 36 went through mediation and 20 have been resolved; while 16 are pending mediation. Thirty-one were withdrawn due to settlement between parties, and 28 were endorsed to other agencies.
Dimagiba is reminding the public and overseas Filipino workers to engage only the services of reliable foreign principals/consolidators that have DTI-accredited Philippine agents/freight forwarders to ensure that their balikbayan boxes will reach their destination and rightful owners. Foreign principals/consolidators abroad should have Philippine agents or freight forwarders which have valid accreditation with DTI as a sea freight forwarder.
OIC Dimagiba reiterated: “DTI urges consumers to avoid becoming victims of unscrupulous cargo forwarders and check the list of DTI-accredited sea freight forwarders and monitor regular advisories and alerts at www.dti.gov.ph.”
The complete list of the DTI Advisory is updated weekly and can be downloaded at http://www.dti.gov.ph/dti/index.php?p=779. Also in the same website is the list of 615 DTI-accredited sea freight forwarders of December 31, 2013.
Complaints on undelivered, lost, pilfered or damaged cargo, delayed delivery and overcharging may be filed at the Philippine Shippers’ Bureau at Second Floor, DTI Building, 361 Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City; or sent through facsimile number (632) 751-3305 or email address—email@example.com. Call DTI Direct (632) 751.3330 for assistance.