Thursday, 14 February 2019

How Seabrook F and H Shipping Company inconvenienced thousands of Healing Oil Products clients

As the owners of Healing Oil Products we pride ourselves on keeping our clients informed about what is happening with their beloved Axhilirit and Rejuvinit products.

Our loyal clients have followed us every step of the way through this transition between countries and it is just correct to add this leg of the adventure of why manufacturing is only commencing after a year had lapsed and 9 months after the expected date of launch of the new manufacturing facility in the Caribbean.

Thus, without further delay, let us launch into the horror story fit for a book:

At Sea With Seabrook Forwarding and Handling Shipping Company – 

My story by Ronald Gibson: Review, Feedback Complaints

If you have been researching shipping companies to entrust with transporting your most precious items, it will serve you well to read my story. This is why I can never recommend Seabrook F and H (Forward and Handling) South Africa, or endorse the company as a whole or any of their branches.

Let me tell you a tale of a small family running a small home industry, which placed their trust in a highly-recommended shipping company to assist us in moving our goods and livelihood to another country, but got royally screwed.

After going through the motions of obtaining quotations from different companies, we finally settled on Seabrook F&H, partly because of their reputation, and partly because I love cars.

Seabrook specializes in shipping exotic cars and boats all over the world, and boasts clients such as MasterCraft, Chris Craft, and Rolls Royce among others.
I was introduced to the company in 2016 when travelling along the R44 between Gordon's Bay and Rooiels in the Western Cape, where the road had been blocked off during photo/video shoots during the launch of the new Rolls Royce Dawn, and while waiting for ridiculous periods, had inquired from the attending staff as to who had done the shipping of the vehicles. I did not mind the delay much as I enjoyed the spectacle of beautiful cars wafting by, driven by journalists that I envied.

Our goods were delivered to the offices of Seabrook in Muizenberg in Cape Town on 19 January 2018 to be crated and shipped.

We were assured that our goods, which included everything needed to start our new company and could not be replaced very easily, would arrive in Belize by the end of April 2018 at the latest if shipped by sea, and that fitted into our plans and budget, so we gave the go-ahead.

We started a new chapter in our lives in Belize, laying the foundation of a new but familiar business while waiting for our goods to arrive, or so we thought.

The next year was a mixture of expectant joy, which turned into helpless despair as the basics to start our natural products business did not arrive, then seemed to disappear altogether with no communication from Seabrook Cape Town.

Initially the problems that arose were logical and related to international transport regulations.  It was agreed that the goods be shipped via sea as soon as a container was available, still with April as the latest date of arrival. In the interim we registered our company in Belize.

Patiently we waited. By March our goods had been crated and sealed, but not shipped, and concern started setting in big time. Every email and call from us was met with either silence or being given the run-around.  We did receive an invoice for the crating, but none for the shipping, indicating that Seabrook had still done nothing to get our goods to Belize.

On 4 May 2018 we paid half the crating cost, as we had become uncomfortable in investing more money into a company that had not yet shown that they deserved that kind of trust. Then everything went quiet. No email or call was answered.  For four months we tried, going so far as getting my sister in SA to contact Seabrook, but no joy.

In desperation we sent our inquiries to every Seabrook email we could find, including the USA and Dubai. Eventually, on 5 September 2019, we received the following email from Michael Du Preez at Seabrook Cape Town, apparently the new manager. You can just think the thoughts and emotions that ran through our minds when reading the following:

“Hi Mr. Gibson,
Hope you are well!
Not to cause any alarm, but can you please advise which crate you are talking about?
I am sorry to say that Henry and Kelle no longer work for Seabrook Forwarding and Handling.
There are a few large crates of goods stored in the bonded section of our warehouse which we cannot identify (one we already have), can you please describe the contents?
We had mention of a Gibson crate recently when we had yet another incident with their new company where we were supposed to collect a vehicle for one of our clients for shipping and they locked the doors in our face and hid in the warehouse. When the previous director got fired he took 3 of the staff with him and started a new company, he is running around telling everyone he took all of the staff with him and that we are out of business. All this whilst in the same business park as ours.
They had planned this for months and did their whole move in two days. Luckily we caught on to their little project and moved in with 5 of the old staff and added an additional 3. Our operations and shipments have gone up way more under better management, but we have had a couple of files that were lying around here that they deliberately sabotaged, files were removed, emails deleted etc.. Mind this, we are all still in the same business park! Its madness.
Mr. Gibson if you could please describe your contents and provide me with brief and quick instructions on how to proceed I will handle this personally on top.
Kindest Regards,

At this stage in time we had been supporting ourselves with funds meant to start up our new venture in Belize, and were cutting things thin to survive. Friends and family were instrumental in helping us during this period, but still, clients that we depended on and who were depending on our products, had started losing confidence in us, and that is very difficult to rectify.

This communication did nothing to restore our confidence in Seabrook, and only served to heighten our fears of losing everything, including the few personal effects we had packed.

On 13 September, after numerous emails and calls from both ourselves and my sister, Michael confirmed that our crate had been found in a bonded warehouse. He committed to provide us with a new quote to ship our goods, then the well-feared lack of communication again stepped in.

By 24 October 2018, in total desperation, I again emailed Michael and CC’d the other email addresses used previously in which I threatened legal action. I was notified that Michael would call me soonest. This did not happen until 1 November or thereabouts. Finally, on 22 November 2018, we received an invoice for air freighting our goods to Belize. By this time our funds were basically non-existent, and our work permits only limit us to doing business as described in our business license related to our products.

In order to get the funds for shipping, we were forced to sell a share in our company. The airfreight was paid on 13 December 2018, with Seabrook promising that our goods would arrive in Belize within 5-10 days after arriving at their forwarding company. After another flurry of inquiries that did not produce any results, we were notified on 27 December that our crate had been handed over to the airline, but their freight department was not yet operational after the holidays.

On 7 January 2019 we received a waybill indicating that our goods had been shipped on 26 December via Virgin Airways to Heathrow, London. Some progress at last!!!

But we could find no sign of where the crate had gone from there on any tracking system. What Now?!

Seabrook seemed to have gotten injured in action, with little assistance from them, so we contacted Amerijet on 15 January, the company responsible for the Miami-Belize leg of the journey. Amerijet was fantastic. Within hours they replied to our email, stating that the crate had not been delivered to the Miami-Belize flight by Seabrook's forwarding agent, and would look into the matter. On 16 January 2019, Seabrook notified us that they had not yet received any info regarding when our goods would reach Belize, but would keep us updated.

"Amerijet was fantastic."

On 19 January 2019, exactly a year to the day that we delivered our goods to Seabrook in Wynberg, Cape Town, we received a notification from the Amerijet tracking system that our crate had arrived in Belize. If we had any funds left we would have celebrated!!

It is now 3 weeks later, 11 February 2019, and still no word from Seabrook.  Fantastic job of updating their clients! We have also established that we were not the only clients that received such treatment, with several reporting similar experiences on People on 4x4 forums also were not complementary of the service received.

Once things had calmed down after opening up a very battered plywood crate (thank God all was intact), we sat down to assess our situation.
We had survived on the bare minimum for the past 9 months without any additional income except assistance by friends and family, and had lost tens of thousands of dollars in expected revenue. Added to this the increased shipping cost from $1180 to $3400, a difference of $2,200, we are out of pocket a . . . let us just say, absurd amount of money.  (Advised by Legal team not to disclose amount if we still wish to go that route.)
This does not include the stress and aggravation that we went through, nor the cost of confidence lost in our ability to service our clients. This also does not cover the treatments for my wife’s scarring products included in the shipment that had expired and had to be discarded.

As this massive delay had been caused by unethical conduct and bad management at Seabrook, Cape Town, I decided to request that they cover some or all of the cost of shipping our goods, as it was malfeasance of their staff, and apathy from their management that put us in this position. Seabrook politely declined, stating that they are not in the habit of shipping goods for free. 
I would guess their corporate clients do not receive the same treatment.

"I decided to request that they cover some or all of the cost of shipping our goodsSeabrook politely declined."

As I believe that companies globally should start taking responsibility for their actions, it has become part of my mission in life to become the instrument of change for these companies.

In order to assist Seabrook in this, I am sharing my story with the world in general, and in specific with the companies they so proudly flaunt as clients on their website.  I am in the process of contacting every complainant in order to compile a fact sheet on Seabrook, and to share this write-up with all.

The ultimate plan is to set up a wider database of companies, where each complaint reported to it must be accompanied by evidentiary proof (emails, call logs, documents and screenshots) as I have collected with Seabrook.

I do not want ethical companies falsely accused, nor do I want those trampling on the lives of their clients escaping Scott-free.
Following the judicial route is expensive, time-consuming and biased towards those that can afford the best lawyers. The court of public opinion is much more effective and has shown to deliver better response from companies that provide shoddy service and products. 

"The court of public opinion is much more effective and has shown to deliver better response from companies that provide shoddy service and products."

It is time that the client/consumer realizes that they hold the power, not the companies they deal with.

I reserve the right to add to this communication any response from Seabrook as I deem fit and necessary.

Yours Sincerely
Ronald Gibson
Contact details as per Blogger Profile