Complying with the Regulations
Sometimes we try to find an economical solution to comply with regulations. If it works, great, but sometimes – actually most times – it comes back to bite us in the behind.
Last week a customer of ICC’s came in panicking to get help. He has previously used us a few times for our repackaging service. Let’s call him Bob. Bob told me he and his team took an online training course which certified them to ship lithium batteries via air. Bob’s shipper packaged up a lithium battery shipment and had sent it out. Bob just found out that it was rejected by the carrier. I asked Bob which UN# they used and he said UN3481. Asked him which (packing instruction) section and he said “what?”. I said, “In Packing Instruction 967, which section do you fall under?” He said, “What’s a packing instruction?”. I grabbed my IATA regulation and told him, “You guys used this book to do the course, yeah?” and he inferred that the course didn’t require use of a book and no, they didn’t use any books. I asked Bob if they took training with ICC and he said, “no”. Bob said they took training with another company and paid $50 as it was the cheapest training they could find. I told him that was his first mistake.
Bob said he spoke to the carrier and they said to just create a shipper’s declaration and email them a copy. I told him that doesn’t seem accurate. Bob said they filled one out that they found on Google but they don’t know some of the information. Poor Bob. He had no idea about shipping DG via air yet he had a training certificate which said he could.
I asked Bob where the boxes were and he said somewhere in Montreal. I asked if they are down the street and he said yes, but thinks they are holding it somewhere else. Advised him a shipment will not leave the origin if it’s rejected. The packages are in the carrier’s Richmond depot. Bob said the packages must arrive in Atlanta, GA tomorrow or they will suffer a major loss. Asked him if they put any labels on the boxes and he showed me the class 9 hazard label and the lithium battery mark. I asked if him if they are shipping the same stuff that I used to repackage for them and he said, “yes”. Advised him that the UN# they used is incorrect. It should be UN3480, not UN3481. Explained to him the difference.
Fixing the Shipment
I told Bob the only way to fix this is to go down to the carrier’s depot and correct the issues with the shipment. I can provide him the documentation, labels and markings. He said he is not able to because it’s almost the end of the day and he needs to be somewhere in an hour. He was extremely flustered and didn’t know what to do. I told him I can do it for him but there will be an additional travel cost. He said he didn’t care but to just fix it and get the boxes out.
So, I did what I do best. Packed up and left to do the job. Fixed the boxes with the correct markings, added the “Cargo Aircraft Only” labels and supplied the shipper’s declaration. I asked the carrier’s DG Agent to do the checklist before I left since it’s an urgent shipment and want to ensure it will make the flight tonight. He was awesome and did it and said he’ll make sure it goes out that night. Called Bob to tell him and he was so thankful. I checked the status of the packages the next morning and it had arrived at 10:59am at the recipient’s address.
Bob has now enrolled his staff to take an in-class training with me next week and bought the IATA regulations. He said he paid $150 to get 3 people trained and ended up paying me $292 to get one shipment fixed. I told him sometimes it may seem like a lot initially but it all pays itself off when you see the quality of training you receive and divide it up for the next 2 years. He said absolutely!