Does Anyone Know Why Shipping Cars is So Difficult?

Luckily we did not ship our cars from Australia to Indonesia, because even shipping them to the largest and arguably, most efficient port in the world – Singapore – is proving to be a strain on my mental sanity. I am sure most of you are well aware of the difficulties we had in shipping the Toyotas from the States to Australia. After that experience, we thought that we had seen the worst. Well, I won’t necessarily say that our current situation is worse, but it is equally as frustrating.

On May 4, we dropped our trucks off at the port in Darwin and flew off to Indonesia to wait out the two week transit time. The vehicles were supposed to be packed and loaded on a ship bound for Singapore on May 10, with a scheduled arrival date in Singapore of May 19. The process of dropping off and shipping our cars from Darwin was informal at best. After leaving the Toyotas with the container company, all we had to show for what constitutes 99% of The World by Road was a hand-written piece of paper indicating the depot had received the trucks and was going to put them on a ship bound for Singapore. In some situations, an informal process can be a relief, but when we are talking about 10’s of thousands of dollars worth of Sequoias and Tundras and more importantly, our livelihood,  one would expect to have a little more to show for it than an hand-written receipt.

I was assured by the shipping company that once the vessel had sailed, I would receive a formal Bill of Lading and and invoice for the shipment via e-mail. As I mentioned before, the vessel was supposed to arrive in Singapore on May 19, so I was a little more than concerned when I had not heard or received anything as of May 17.  By this point, we had already purchased plane tickets to Singapore and I was flying out a day earlier to take care of the necessary paperwork to clear them through customs and get them street legal in Singapore and Malaysia. After contacting the shipping company, they informed me that the trucks had not even left Darwin yet as the ship had been delayed by a week. Now, from a customer service standpoint, you might think that this would be important information that we as customers should know about. Apparently not.

I guess it could be worse. We could be stuck waiting somewhere less conducive to getting work done. Singapore is nice, albeit expensive, and there is plenty to do to keep us occupied. In fact, one of the main things that has occupied our time is trying to pay for the shipment of the trucks since our bank in the States won’t initiate an international wire transfer without you physically being present, and the shipping company won’t accept credit cards or checks. Instead of exploring the city-state of Singapore and checking out all that it has to offer, Shoppman and I are spending time sitting in shipping offices and learning that even banks in the financial heart of half the globe can boggle the mind with how difficult they can make a simple transaction… luckily we are able to forge our own signatures and have the ability make up fake local addresses… don’t even ask.