A Customer’s Battle with Customs to Get their Cargo Released
By Port Woo | Manager, CSL Customs Service Express
Julie and her three partners struggled to keep up with the demands of their new consumer electronics company. At times it seemed like their customers couldn’t get enough of their new product line. Her company was a first time importer, and her partners had trusted her to develop a logistics and supply chain strategy while they focused on sales and marketing. Julie called in through the CSL Help Desk and was quickly connected to me at CSL Customs Service Express.
At first she just had a few questions about what to expect as an Importer of Record. She was so nervous, all she kept saying was, “I have never done anything like this” and “I don’t know where to begin – I don’t really understand what all these forms mean”.
I arranged a meeting at her office with our in-house customs broker so we could better understand her business and the products she would be importing. We helped her build a logistics strategy detailing every step from the Point of Origin (POO) to Point of Destination (POD) in the USA. Once her first shipment arrived without incident, she was very appreciative – not only at how smoothly her shipment was handled, but how much knowledge she had received from working with us.
As Julie’s business continued to grow, so did the number of containers they were shipping into the U.S. They were growing so fast that cash flow got tighter and their customers started squeezing them for lower prices as each new order got bigger. Julie and her partners fought back by looking for ways to trim overhead costs to help keep their margins in line. Bowing to pressure from her partners, Julie was forced to switch to a new customs brokerage that lured them away with a low ball, initial rate quote and cheaper service.
Six months later Julie called again in a panic. “I don’t know what to do! I know we dropped you as our broker because we needed to save money, but since making that decision our shipping costs have gone way up and now every shipment that arrives at the port gets examined by Customs and Border Protection. Can you help us out of this mess?”
We gladly took her company back as a client and began trying to resolve her problem with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). We helped them draft a letter to the CBP’s Commodity Specialist Team (CST) requesting a review of past exams. The CST agreed to a meeting with the customs officers who directly processed her company’s CBP entries. Our top managers accompanied Julie at the meeting. We brought information about her company and samples of the various products her company was importing into the U.S. Most importantly, we coached Julie on the review process and assisted her in answering questions during the meeting, presenting her company’s products, and their Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) requirements. Immediately, Julie’s shipment delays stopped as did the CBP exams, and her company’s products began moving on to retail stores.