Airbox Express - a freight forwarder / shipper who ships to Panama via air and/or ship depending on the product. There are offices in Miami and in Panama City as well as outlying areas such as Colon, Panama.
Krystal Logistics - The freight company in Miami where Airbox shipments are kept until ready for shipping.
Fabula, Inc. - Our varnish supplier in Florida
Us - We were in Panama
We ordered Varnish / Paint and some finishing supplies like brushes and tack cloths from Florida on June 13, 2013.
To summarize our previous dealings with Airbox and the varnish we had ordered, we had shipped this material with Airbox via ship, about 1 1/2 years ago. We had during that previous time tried twice to have products shipped but for some reason Airbox indicated they had never received the first order. Fabula then re- shipped our order and this second order made it to Krystal Logistics, their transfer point, Panama City and then us. This second order resulted in a hiccup whereby an individual from Airbox asked for the MSDS info on the products. We faxed them to Airbox and we received the product in Panama City about 6 weeks after we purchased the supplies. There was a significant cost and the wait time was also significant; however, it was within acceptable limits for us, understanding the difficulty of acquiring specific boat supplies here.
So, this time we thought in order to assist in expediting matters, we asked the supplier, Fabula Inc, to include the MSDS paperwork with the invoice. We learned later that Fabula had in fact called Airbox Miami and asked what was needed to best facilitate the merchandise arriving in Panama promptly. He was informed to write on the outside of the box ORM-D signifying the material to be hazardous. He did.
When the product arrived in Miami a few days later Airbox Express emailed me and asked for a description of the material on June 18th. They wanted a copy of the invoice, when in fact we learned in further discussions with Carman from Krystal Logistics, the holding warehouse, they had the invoice and the MSDS's necessary for shipment to Panama. I sent a description of the material to Airbox as soon as they requested it (on the 18th of June).
On June 21, I e-mailed Airbox that the invoice was on the package and the MSDS's were there also. I received a reply on June 24th indicating that they could not open the box to get the documentation (remember Krystal indicated they had the documentation, that it was on the outside of the box). At this point in time they said in the email "The cost to take the processed is $520.00, not including the costs of transportation and cargo nationalization in Panama". Ouch!
I made my first phone call to Airbox and the woman on the phone only indicated a need for a description so I emailed Airbox a description and reiterated that this is to be cargo on a boat not by air. I received a reply on the 26th that indeed the cost to prepare any paperwork would be $520.00 plus. I reaffirmed that the product was to be sent by ship and not plane and that I did not understand this extra fee.
I was asked to check to see if there was a mistake made by the manufacture, in the shipping information. Remember the manufacture had called Airbox Miami to make sure things would be expedited by including the necessary material. Now Airbox was saying the manufacture may have made a mistake.
On the same day I replied that I had shipped identical material a year and one half earlier and didn't have the onerous charge of $520 plus. I indicated that the material was identical in nature and asked for the "correct" amount.
Once I received an email asking if I was refusing the shipment. I said that I wanted the material but didn't expect to pay more then the cost of the material to have it delivered. Airbox never indicated what would happen if I refused the shipment. I did not assume anything good.
Asking again for the correct price again I never received a reply. It was the following day I contacted Roger De Hoyos in Panama City to talk to Airbox for me and see what the issue might be and to see if it could be resolved. Roger is Panamanian and able to communicate any issues much better than I. He went in person and talked to Airbox in El Congrego on July 4th and gave me an email address of a woman who indicated she could assist in correcting any problems. Her address is: email@example.com . I emailed her on July 5th and never received a reply.
Around July 11th Roger went again to Airbox and Airbox said that Nayrovis was in an accident and not at work all week. He spoke with Erix Gonzalez ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) and Erix asked him to provide via email the information and that he, Erix, would respond within 24 hours. Erix had not responded by the end of the week and Roger never received a response from him. Throughout this time we never received an email response from Erix.
On July 18th I called Krystal Logistics in Miami and spoke with Carmen. She informed me at this time that they had all the paperwork needed, had the MSDS, and had the original invoice and was waiting for Erix to tell them to send the product. This required 2 calls in the am and 2 calls in the pm to get through to her and get this information.
On July 20th I emailed Roger the info that Carmen had told me, and pricing to ship Gasoline and or Oil Paint that Airbox had posted on their web site. I was hoping this would help in the resolution and prompt shipment of our package, at this point having sat in Miami for a little over 1 month. I was hopeful. Varnish and Paint can not be more hazardous than gasoline!
On July 24th we elected to visit Panama City and go personally to Airbox and speak with them, with the help of Roger. I had looked up on their site and found the cost for sending by ship Oil Paint and Gasoline (see paragraph above); both hazardous products and neither product had a charge of $520.00 I felt confident we could get this resolved and the material to us this summer.
On July 29th we arrived at about 1:30 p.m. and Roger asked Erix, who was in the office, to speak with a Supervisor. Erix indicated that Ana was at lunch and would be returning in 30 minutes. We spoke with Ana Rodriguez ( email@example.com ) in the Lobby of Airbox. Ana insisted that this package now needed to have an IMO Document because the box was marked ORM-D. Remember my supplier contacted Airbox in Miami and was told to mark the package " ORM-D" . After having nothing resolved regarding the $520 charge, I asked Ana simply to return our package to the supplier, Fabula, and she informed us that the cost would be upwards of $200! The initial cost to ship the material from the supplier to Airbox Miami was approximately $20. I asked about someone picking it up in Miami and she informed us it would cost $90. We had to pay something called an "in and out" fee. When I've had products shipped via Airbox before I never paid such a fee. There was never a $90 fee added to any of my other shipments and I didn't understand why there was now. I asked Ana if I had a friend pick up the package, put it in an unmarked box and then returned it to Airbox would I have to pay the IMO fee. She said no, but I would then have to pay the "in and out" fee, $45 in, $45 out, and another $45 in. In a later email I discovered that the In/Out fee is only $45.00 total; however, Ana indicated it would be three times the $45 "in and out" fee. She indicated that it would be $45 in and then $45 out and then to bring is back $45 in. We left the meeting wondering what to do.
The same day I called Fabula Inc about an IMO Document and he had never heard of such a document. He recently shipped a similar weight / content package to the middle of the Pacific for approximately $100.
We were left with only a couple of options. Ask a friend to try to pick it up, have Krystal Logistics return it to our supplier, or fly up there and try to get it re-sent to Panama another way.
Since we didn't know the area of the warehouse in Miami and if it was safe we didn't feel it would be safe to ask a female friend to to go to the warehouse where the package was in Miami. One of us could fly to Miami but then would Airbox still even have the product, have lost the product or just continue to give us a run around. Those costs would be significant with the airfare, hotel and rental bills. Or we could try to have Krystal Logistics return the material to the supplier, Fabula.
On July 24th we asked Carmen at Krystal to return the material to the supplier. She indicated that they needed a release from Airbox to return the package. She said she would contact them and have an answer the following day. The following day we called two times in the am and Carmen had not yet received a release. We called two times the afternoon and she indicated that we too should email Erix and ask for a release, that this would "pressure" him. Her words. We never received a reply from Erix.
On July 26th we left a voice mail for Carmen.
On July 29 Carmen said to call back in one hour, she would call Erix in Panama City for the release. We called back and the package had not been released. She indicated she spoke with Erix and he indicated there would be a price to pay for the release and he would have a quote to her the following day.
On July 30 Carmen received an email from Erix but with no price for a release. She indicated that she would ask Karen Diaz for a release. Karen ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) is in Miami working for Airbox.
On that day, July 30th we sent an email to the President of Airbox about the difficulty we had in getting this package returned to the supplier.
On July 31st we spoke with Ms. Diaz and she indicated that the In/Out fee would be waived and to send her an address so Airbox could have the package labeled and ready for pickup. We immediately emailed her the address to return the package. We called Fabula who would kindly send an order to FedEx for a package pickup.
That day Fabula attempted to call Airbox Miami to confirm the pickup address for FedEx. After 4 calls he indicated that he could not get through to Karen Diaz at Airbox to confirm the address.
On Aug 1st we called Fabula and discovered he couldn't get an address to confirm so we called Aribox to confirm the address. This took 11 phone calls. From 1:30 pm onward every call to Karen Diaz was met with "She's on another line" and when they patched us through to her voice mailbox the recording indicated it was full. At a little after 2 pm the operator indicated that Ms. Diaz was now out to lunch. We did, however, speak with an anonymous individual who confirmed the pickup address. We then called Fabula to give him the address for pickup. The following day Fabula had a pickup order for FedEx to pickup the product from Airbox and return it to him.
On Aug 6th we discovered that when FedEx stopped at Airbox to pick up the product, Karen Diaz said they didn't have a label and FedEx needed to make one up. We emailed Ms. Diaz again giving her the shipping address and asking why the product was not ready and not sent. We received no reply.
FedEx made up a shipping label and was to pickup the product on August 8th. We called Ms. Diaz on Aug 9th and she said that the product was picked up on Aug 8th. We called Fabula Inc. and he said that FedEx had in their notes that the product was not ready yet. Fed Ex would return the 9th to attempt a second pick up. On the 9th according to the FedEx tracking page the product wasn't ready yet.
On Aug 11th we called Ms. Diaz and she said yes the product was now picked up that morning, Monday. We called Fabula who gave us a tracking number. In checking that number, indeed on the FedEx tracking page the product was shown as being picked up, then at the warehouse and the following day delivered to Fabula Inc. On Aug 13th the package was out of Airbox's hands.
To summarize our experience with Airbox it necessitated around 40 phone calls, 13 emails re Airbox, 2 emails to the President of Airbox, 1 trip to Panama City, and 60 days to get the product we needed returned to the manufacture. And the varnish / paint / and supplies still are not in our hands here in Panama!
Airbox Express - Grade D