US-based home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond (BB&B), which recently filed for bankruptcy protection, has filed a claim of $37.65m against Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), a Hong Kong-based shipping company. The complaint alleges that OOCL engaged in exploitative and unjust business practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
BB&B filed the complaint with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), joining a growing number of other shippers who have also raised concerns over the shipping company’s conduct. According to BB&B, OOCL systematically failed to meet contracted minimum quantity commitments of cargo and corresponding vessel space, instead selling the space to higher-paying customers. As a result, BB&B had to find capacity on the spot market at a much higher cost, resulting in significant financial losses.
The allegations raise concerns over the business practices of shipping companies during the pandemic. The global supply chain disruption caused by COVID-19 has led to significant challenges for retailers and other companies that rely on international shipping to transport goods. As such, regulators and shippers have been increasingly critical of shipping companies that engage in unfair practices.
OOCL has yet to respond publicly to the allegations made by BB&B and other shippers.