x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Relocation company’s customers furious at delayed shipments

Relogulf says it will pay all of its debts but that does not help customers who, in some cases, have waited nine months for shipments after moving country.

John McCann with his pregnant wife Tamsin and their daughter Orlaith, 3, who have been sleeping on a mattress on the floor at their home in Ramsgate, England, as their belongings have been held at port since June, when the family moved back from the UAE. Stephen Lock for The National
John McCann with his pregnant wife Tamsin and their daughter Orlaith, 3, who have been sleeping on a mattress on the floor at their home in Ramsgate, England, as their belongings have been held at port since June, when the family moved back from the UAE. Stephen Lock for The National

DUBAI // An international removal company that is alleged to owe hundreds of thousands of dirhams to shipping companies and former customers around the world says it will pay all of its debts.

Neil Price and Philip Davis, managing partners of Relogulf who also have connections with British Budget Removals and Sovereign Removals, say they are expecting an investor to come onboard in coming months, enabling them to clear debts.

Several logistics companies have claimed bounced cheques or non-payment for services from Relogulf, a moving and storage company.

Some customers of Relogulf and BBR say they have had to pay tens of thousands of dirhams in additional charges to shipping companies to have their goods returned.

“We are aware of many issues and are working to resolve these,” said Mr Price. “We have an investor in place merely waiting on finalisation. The level of investment will wipe all problems [for] clients and shipping companies.”

Asiatic Freight Services, which worked with Relogulf, said it was owed almost Dh130,000.

“We have decided to put a legal case against them,” said Prasad B K, who works in operations at Asiatic.

Mr Prasad said Relogulf had not paid for 19 of its containers to be shipped to destination ports.

Asiatic was initially refusing to release each of the containers until payment was made, but eventually consented to release them all.

One of the containers, which was docked at Antwerp in October, belonged to Paul de Montmorin, a former Dubai resident.

Mr de Montmorin moved from Dubai to Switzerland with his family, paying Relogulf Dh35,000 to move his possessions.

But after finding the company had allegedly not paid several parties in the process, he had to pay more than Dh20,000 for his goods to be shipped to Antwerp.

Mr de Montmorin is planning to hire a lorry to take the goods to Switzerland from Belgium to minimise further shipping costs.

“I have spent countless hours on the phone and writing emails to get this situation sorted, and it has taken nine months,” he said.

An official from Dubai Chamber of Commerce said Relogulf’s trade licence had expired in September last year, while the licence of BBR expired in August.

The official could not find a licence for Sovereign Relocations.

Another former customer, Jayne Lytel, said she paid Relogulf to ship her belongings to Washington, DC.

The shipment sent to the wrong port, Virginia instead of New Jersey, and the forwarding agent would not release a bill of lading to release the container as it said it had not been paid by Relogulf.

The situation was only resolved when another customer using the same container as Ms Lytel agreed to pay Dh21,000 to the forwarding agent.

The general manager of that forwarding agent, who did not wish to be identified, said by that time it was already owed Dh110,000 in two payments from Relogulf and could not afford to incur further losses.

“One cheque bounced,” said the manager. “Neil Price told us not to present it and that he’d pay us. He said he would pay it in January.”

More disgruntled customers, John McCann and his wife Tamsin, who is seven months pregnant, have been sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a near-empty flat for almost three months.

All of their personal belongings, including their bed, has been in a shipping container since June last year but still has not been delivered to their house in England.

Last year, Mr McCann hired BBR to ship most of the contents of a villa the family rented in Dubai back to a rented house in Ramsgate, Kent.

But after an alleged non-payment of shipping fees by BBR to the freight forwarder, RAK Logistics, the container has been held at Southampton, on England’s south coast, for the past two months.

“We’re just hoping and praying that it’s going to be resolved,” he said. “It’s been a nightmare.”

After two months of mediation, Sunday RAK Logistics released a bill of lading enabling the container to be moved out of the port where it had been accumulating charges.

“Every company makes mistakes,” said Mr Price. “We have made mistakes. The problem in our industry is that mistakes cost to rectify.”

He declined to say whether customers such as Mr de Montmorin and Ms Lytel’s container mate who paid shipping companies to process or release their goods would be compensated.

“The question of compensation is something that will be discussed in the fullness of time with each client after we have satisfied each client’s initial issues,” Mr Price said.

mcroucher@thenational.ae