We all know that moving house is the most stressful time imaginable. If we're moving across the Atlantic then this can increase ten fold. If you use Ocean Star International it will multiply by a thousand!!
In a nutshell, Ocean Start International told me they would handle my re-location from Vegas back to the UK for $2419. 2 weeks after they collected my stuff (on CHRISTMAS EVE!!) Ocean Start International sent me an invoice and told me that I owed them $4766. After 2 weeks of going back and forth they told me unless I paid in full my stuff we be left on the side of the dock and I'd have to have someone else collect it.
To give more details:
Upon deciding to re-locate from Las Vegas back to England I googled shipping companies and received countless quotes.
I whittled them down to the last 10 one of which was from Ocean Star International Inc. The rate of $1,180 I thought represented outstanding value. This was dated October 21 2008.
I received a telephone call, and asked the agent he could confirm the rate. His advice was that if I provided him with an inventory list he would provide me with a more accurate list. I immediately sent my full inventory through, clearly stating I am only interested in a guaranteed rate. The following day received a quote for $2419. This represented what I thought was a good deal.
The wording at the foot of the email made read:
Please note there may be exclusions in your rate if not mentioned in the included services above. Long carry, THC (terminal Handling charges), port fees, special crating/palletizing, wharfage, documentation, hauling/lashing, quarantine, destination customs, parking permit, unforeseen customs delays, port security fees if applicable.
I called my agent and asked him to explain what this meant. i.e would further charges, taxes or fee's be added to my bill. He assured me that so long as my inventory list was accurate the quote was good. The only potential extra fee would be a $100 bill of landing once my shipment arrived in England. I thought this was a reasonable add on.
When asked how long I should expect the delivery to take I was advised 6 8 weeks.
I agreed to this and the drivers arrived on Thursday December 11, 2008 a couple of days before I flew back to England.
I then received an email on December 24th saying they wanted a credit card payment $4766.00. I assumed that this was a simple mistake that would be easy resolved. At 6.45pm UK time on Christmas Eve 2008 I received a call from Ocean Star International and was told that I needed to authorize this payment. I asked about the quote I received and was advised:
'We work on what the dock tells us, and I have to charge you $4766. As a good will gesture I will ask the shippers to re-measure. Alternatively you can ask someone else to ship your belongings across the Atlantic'.
I received a call on New Years Eve. The advice was that re-measurement gave the same results and I needed to pay the money. Ocean Star International then said they would knock off $350. This left a final balance of $4416, some $2347 above my original quote. It's almost double.
I asked why my original quote was being disregarded and I got 2 answers:
'Kevin tells us this was a last minute quote'
The second quote was received 6 weeks before my collection date.
'Sofas come in different shapes and sizes. It could have been a wrap around sofa'
This is baffling as my inventory clearly says a 3 sear sofa and it's no-where near the size of a wrap around sofa.
When I advised I didn't have the money I was advised I had 2 options:
1 - Find extra $2347 (1,550 GBP)
2 - Leave my shipment on the dock, pay Ocean Star International and have someone else collect. My worldly possessions were in Long Beach CA (I had no idea of the specific location); I was in the West Midlands of England. 5,500 miles away.
I felt I was left with no option. My parents gave me their credit card but had to extend their limit after the card was declined.
The shipment arrived on Thursday 12 March 2009 . Ocean Star International blatantly gave me a low ball quote, knowing that rather than loose everything I own I would have to find the money from anywhere. If anyone wants to see them I have all the emails that went back and forth. Please message me and I will forward I clearly state I am only interested in guaranteed quotes and at no point am I advised that there will be a hike of almost 100% when the shipment gets to the port. I feel this is a very under hand and unethical way to win business.
To sum up, I feel my dispute is reasonable on these grounds.
1 I was quoted $2,419. Once Ocean Star International had my worldly goods they hiked the price was charged $4416.
2 - I was told the shipment would take 6 8 weeks. It took 12.
3 I was told once my shipment arrived in England it would take 7 10 days to be delivered. It took 30.
I have disputed the charge with my credit card company, and am awaiting their feedback. This has led to the GM of Ocean Star International of accusing me of fraud.
The amazing thing is, no one from Ocean Star International, Inc thinks this is a big deal. I have tried to enter a rational and civilized dialogue, and I all I have asked for is a document signed by myself agreeing that the price would double at the port. They have yet to provide this. They think it's perfectly reasonable and they are well within their rights to do this; they claim that my complaint is completely unreasonable and unjustified.
I have asked the Better Business Bureau to advise if they think my complaint is reasonable, or that hiking the price by almost 100% once they have all my worldly goods in their possession is a reasonable business practice.
I would be very wary of giving Ocean Star International, Inc your business.