Tess Madamba, a caregiver from Queens, is one of the many overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who has a balikbayan box horror story to tell.
She sent several balikbayan boxes to her family in the Philippines through two delivery companies, but two years later her family hasn’t received them.
On June 5, she requested shipment of three boxes to Manila with Sansu International in Brooklyn. Shipped the boxes early to arrive in time for Christmas. The manager gave her assurance that the boxes will leave the week later. She shipped another three boxes on September to the same delivery company and was given the assurance the boxes will arrive before the end of October.
On October, she shipped three more boxes to a different cargo forwarder, RDR Cargo Express in Queens and was given the assurance the boxes will leave the same week.
However, all nine boxes never arrived in the Philippines. Madamba called the companies when her family didn’t receive the boxes after Christmas. The manager’s response was that the shipments were in Manila but couldn’t be released by the Bureau of Customs because of pending payment of required customs and taxes.
After January, Madamba couldn’t contact Sansu anymore. She had the same experience with RDR, although only two boxes arrived to her family. They couldn’t be contacted anymore after that. E-mails remained unanswered and their Web sites became unavailable.
Any complaints against shady cargo forwarders should be forwarded to the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry-Philippine Shippers Bureau by fax at (02) 751-3305 or email at [email protected]. It is not guaranteed that the boxes will be recovered, but the cargo company will be held liable.
However, the embassies have constantly reminded OFWs to deal with only PSD-accredited freight forwarders.