Manila Forwarder, In The Forefront of Government Compliance
Putting most of the balikbayan box industry executives in one place to discuss the future of balikbayan box is not an easy task.
However, it is now happening with the cooperation of majority of industry members. In the last Pilipino America Shippers Association ( PASA ) meeting held at FACLA on the Historic Filipino Town, a brighter future for the balikbayan box industry is starting to emerge.
For the unfamiliar minds, one may notice the variance in the pricing of the balikbayan box industry because, each company’s cost varies. Each services of course goes with it.
Companies offering low prices are non-compliance with the general requirements of the United States and Philippine government and these are being passed on to the consumers who are unaware of the situation they are getting into. Uneducated consumers are only after the low prices and as long as their balikbayan boxes are getting delivered, so far, all is fine with them, until they become victims themselves.
This line of thinking bites!
Thousands of our kababayans have been victimized by these low-end companies and their balikbayan boxes have been sold to some other enterprising individuals in the Philippines.
Their balikbayan boxes are now gone and this leaves a blemish in the balikbayan box industry.
It is sad to say that these people who patronized those companies was misinformed or refused to accept the information that has been placed in front of their faces for years.
Their balikbayan boxes got delivered the first few times anyways, why would they believe the other balikbayan box companies who perhaps just want to charge more?
Most balikbayan box company owners are hard working Filipinos who immigrated to the United States who just want a part of the American Dream. Majority are former balikbayan box agents of other established company who decided to try their own luck in putting their own business.
Unfortunately, some are just recycled scam artist who just change their company’s name every time they get burned.
Both however will not cut the American Standards.
American consumers must be protected and to provide such protection requires money and knowledge.
The United States Federal Maritime Commission requires balikbayan box companies to have enough capitalization to engage in this business. They also require at least three years of experience to be knowledgeable with the laws and regulations of shipping.
Some balikbayan box companies go around these requirements by selling their shipments to other licensed companies who does the shipments for them. These companies, called “Master Loader”, let other companies use their license. These master loaders, however, are unknown to the customers and not responsible to the ultimate consumer in cases of non-delivery. These companies hide under the skirt. No responsibility at all.
The Philippine Government on the other hand, through the Philippine Shipper’s Bureau, also requires companies to engage in this business substantial capitalization before they can be accredited.
Both requirements are of course for the protection of the consumers. Without such accreditation, consumers are at the mercy of the company that they will choose. The fly by night companies can easily disappear with your shipment and money.
It’s cheap but risky. There are laws being violated here. However, the law cannot be applied to these fly by night companies as they easily disappear without any trace. Law enforcement personnel do not have the manpower to go after these illegal practitioners of the business unless there are complaints filed. However, when cases are filed against these companies, they just disappear.
A recent check with the Philippine Shipper’s Bureau only shows Manila Forwarder Phil, Inc as the one of less than five USA-based balikbayan box company with filed and valid accreditation. One will be surprised that even some well publicized companies are not accredited. These accreditation, however, is compulsory to do this type of business.
Manila Forwarder USA Corp is also one of the few balikbayan box companies that is accredited by US Homeland Security. Regular security training modules and security updates are given and immediately implemented by Manila Forwarder USA Corp.
Now how do you protect yourself as a knowledgeable consumer?
Ask for you balikbayan box companies accreditation. Visit or call the company’s head office and ask for their accreditation credentials. They should provide you with a number if they have one ( see the list below ).
Also ask them if they provide insurance for their shipment, if they do, ask for the information of their shipping insurance company and verify. Most companies have false claims that their shipments are insured. Manila Forwarder shipments are insured up to $200 per balikbayan box by Great American Insurance company. Additional insurance coverage is available for a small premium.
If they are a one-man operation, ask them why? It's a tale tale sign. Can they afford the financial requirements to engage in this type of business?
Check their Philippine Office and if it’s a different name, ask them why? Are they accredited by the Philippine Shipper's Bureau ( see list below ). Who will be responsible for your shipments?
And please, do not call a balikbayan box company looking for the cheapest rate. If you continue with that type of thinking, please reconsider your priorities. Ask why you should patronize this company compared to others. Ask what is your protection as a United States’ smart consumer. Remember, A gallon of gas is now almost five bucks. Do not expect that all cost will go up except balikbayan box shipping fees.
PROTECTION, USE ONLY ACCREDITED BALIKBAYAN BOX COMPANIES:
1) US FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION
2) US HOMELAND SECURITY
3) PHILIPPINE SHIPPER'S BUREAU
4) PILIPINO AMERICAN SHIPPERS ASSN
CHECK THE LIST OF PHILIPPINE SHIPPER'S
IMPORTANT ADVISORY FROM DEPT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
About the Author: Manny Paez is a consultant of Manila Forwarder. He studied Bachelor of Science in Commerce Major in Marketing from San Beda College and Graduate Studies in Criminal Justice from California State University. He is a former US military with specialty in Counter-Terrorism. He was also a member of the Metropolitan Police Force in the Philippines.