Flexport complaints by Peloton, Giti Tire allege millions in excessive charges

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, May 27, 2024:

Shippers allege excessive detention and demurrage fees levied by Flexport 

The Convoy Platform's new owner Flexport, which bills itself as a global shipping solution, stands accused of wrongly charging Peloton millions of dollars in detention and demurrage fees as the shipper's containers languished at the ports. 

In a complaint to the Federal Maritime Commission filed on May 3, Peloton, the fitness equipment retailer, said "Flexport repeatedly and chronically failed to properly perform its inland transportation obligations" from 2020-2023. Last week, news emerged of another shipper filing a similar complaint. Giti Tire Ltd. also alleges millions in improper detention and demurrage charges.

Flexport's shortcomings, according to the Peloton complaint, include "failing to timely remove Peloton containers from US marine and intermodal terminals, failing to timely deliver containers to their designated inland locations and failing to timely return the empty containers within the applicable free time periods.”

The complaint says Flexport is still invoicing Peloton for these services. 

It's a fact that the pandemic heavily disrupted supply chains beginning in 2020, with lingering effects into 2023. Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen appeared in CNBC and Bloomberg business broadcasts and publications at least 15 times during that period to lend his expertise to the national conversation on supply chain challenges. 

In early 2024, Flexport acquired the tech assets of Convoy, the former brokerage that dissolved in October 2023, leaving dozens of carriers unpaid. Flexport has had some success in luring back some of Convoy's old carriers, even those that remained unpaid after the original Convoy collapsed. 

[Related: Convoy fallout: Stiffed carrier feels that freight brokers' bond should vary according to company size]

Overdrive reporting found that Flexport likely acquired the tech assets from Convoy, once valued at $3.8 billion, for less than $10 million. 

On May 16, Flexport held a Trucking Market Update in which Bill Driegert, the company's EVP and head of trucking, summarized Cass Freight Index data and concluded the market was a "mixed bag," while citing other experts as saying a rates rebound could take place later this year. The webinar also featured an explanation of how Convoy uses machine learning to negotiate with carriers in an automated bidding process.

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Asked twice by Overdrive for an update on load volumes moving through the new Convoy Platform, the question went answered.

Later, a Flexport spokesperson promised to provide an update on the company's trucking operation but has yet to deliver. 

In the Peloton case, a Flexport spokesperson denied any wrongdoing, noting that "Flexport strictly complies with the Ocean Shipping Reform Act and all other rules and regulations within the Shipping Act. We go above and beyond to help all our customers ensure on-time delivery and minimize detention and demurrage charges, especially in times of stress like the supply chain crisis that many businesses faced during the pandemic.” 

Dig deeper: Read the series, starting at this link, detailing the efforts carriers, shippers and others have taken in attempt to secure compensation for loads left unpaid in the wake of the Convoy brokerage's collapse and Flexport's purchase of the technology early this year.  

I-95 in Philly fully reopened less than a year after bridge collapse

At an event Thursday, May 23, Pennsylvania officials announced the completion of permanent repairs to I-95 in northeast Philadelphia less than a year after a deadly tanker truck crash caused a fire and collapse of an interstate bridge.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Mike Carroll was joined by Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt and other officials to commemorate the completion of the repairs. All lanes on I-95 in the area opened to traffic Friday morning, May 24, as well as one lane on the newly constructed ramp from northbound I-95 to Cottman Avenue.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and Carroll led a coordinated state, local, and federal response to reopen the roadway safely and as quickly as possible, the state said, and efforts were ahead of schedule each step of the way to get traffic flowing on I-95 again. A temporary roadway with six lanes of traffic opened on June 23, 2023, only 12 days after the initial fire and collapse. 

The new bridge and ramp replace the ones that were destroyed in a June 11, 2023, tanker truck crash and fire. The outer sections on the northbound and southbound sides of the bridge were then rebuilt before I-95 traffic was shifted from the temporary center lanes onto the completed, outer sections of the new bridge last November.

When both lanes of the northbound ramp to Cottman Avenue are complete, it will feature enhanced traffic safety measures, such as new signage and High Friction Surface Treatment (HFST). HFST is a treatment added to the top of a road surface that creates more friction on the pavement, helping keep vehicles in their lane and improving stopping distance around curves or other locations where wet pavement may contribute to crashes. HFST is a Federal Highway Administration Every Day Counts innovation that PennDOT has implemented across Pennsylvania, with data showing that the treatment decreases fatal and injury crashes where it is installed.

[Related: Tanker in I-95 bridge collapse lost control on off-ramp: NTSB]

Trucker named Highway Angel for attempting to extinguish car fire

The Truckload Carriers Association has named truck driver Andrew Hastie, from Bryan, Texas, a Highway Angel for stopping to help victims involved in a wreck and for trying to put out a car fire. Hastie works for Decker Truck Line out of Ft. Dodge, Iowa.

Andrew HastieAndrew HastieAround 2:30 p.m. on April 29 in Kennesaw, Georgia, Hastie was driving southbound on I-75 when he came upon an accident with a car on fire about 25 yards off the interstate in the woods. There were already people who stopped and tried to extinguish the fire, but he saw someone pointing to a fire extinguisher indicating they needed more.

“My thought process at that point was, ‘I’ve gotta stop, I just can’t keep going,’” Hastie said. He pulled over, grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran up to the engulfed car. He also unsuccessfully helped try to open the driver’s door to get the driver out.

“It was one of the worst (accidents) I’ve seen,” Hastie said. The bystanders were able to get an injured female passenger out of the vehicle. She was eventually life-flighted to receive medical attention. Her condition is unknown. Hastie suspects the driver did not survive the wreck.

Paramedics, fire crews, and numerous other responders arrived about five or 10 minutes after Hastie stopped to help. A former volunteer policeman/firefighter in Pennsylvania, Hastie helped lay the fire hoses out to extinguish the flames.

Looking back, he is glad he stopped.

“They needed a fire extinguisher, I had a fire extinguisher,” he said. “If I had just kept going, I would have felt like crap.”

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