Friday, January 17, 2014

CHOOSING AN INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING COMPANY

As I've explained in previous posts, I have no desire to write handbooks. Nor do I wish to cause anyone to choose one product or service over another simply because my wife Cathey and I have made our choices. I'm simply telling the story of our experiences as we prepare to move from our home in the USofA to our home in France. Do your own due diligence. Don't depend on mine.

There are bunches of international shippers. You can find ads and links on expat message boards. There are portal sites that will submit your request for a quote to an array of shippers. If you know someone working in a major international corporation in your area, see if you can find out if the company has a go-to shipper.

Once we had the names of several shipping companies, even before I went to their websites, I began looking at sites that aggregate reviews of them. Let's talk about reviews for a minute.

I operate under the assumption that folks are more likely to write detailed reviews on company or aggregating websites if their experience has been unsatisfactory. You can find the same negative review on different sites if the reviewer is sufficiently pissed off. Cut and Paste facilitates shouting at the wind. Furthermore, if only 1% of the cargo that goes through the Port of New York every year is lost, damaged or delayed, that's nearly 1,000,000 tons of cargo. You're dealing with multiple complex international  systems. It's a crap shoot. Sometimes you lose.

In other words, I read as many reviews of as many companies as I can. Then I go by my gut

I decided to ask four companies for quotes. We exchanged emails. I sent lists. I got quotes. I asked questions. Three of the quotes were so close as to make no difference. Nearly identical. The fourth quote was 15% less than the others. NY International Shipping.

NY International's salesman was the most persistent, thorough communicator. He answered every email promptly and he followed up to make certain that I understood the information that he had sent. Yes. I know. A good salesman can convince you to buy a bad product. But one telephone exchange convinced me.

I asked the NY International salesman why I should trust a quote that was so obviously low. First, he asked me to hold for a few minutes to review the quote to make certain that there was no mistake. I liked that. He didn't pretend to have my quote in his head. It was a serious question and he seemed to be attempting to make certain that his answer was equally serious.  When he came back to the phone, he confirmed the number and added, among one or two other things, that they had a really good, efficient and effective agent in France who saves them money. That connected with one of the reviews of NY International that I'd read lauding their agent on the French side - good communication, solved problems...

So, at the end I settled on NY International Shipping. I'll post on this topic again as events warrant and  once the move has been accomplished.

EDIT: To skip to my review of New York International Shipping after our move was complete, click HERE.

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