Retailer eyes claim over ‘$60,000 loss’


Tribune Business Editor


A frustrated Freeport food retailer yesterday said he planned to “claim” against a major shipping company, after the late delivery of perishables cost him an estimated $60,000 sales and much customer “goodwill”.

Jeffrey Butler, head of Butler’s Food World, told Tribune Business that G&G Shipping had yet to explain why its 40-foot refrigerated container was delivered 48 hours late at the weekend, despite six phone messages and e-mails being left for the company.

Describing shipping companies as “the lifeline of the Bahamas”, Mr Butler said local businesses had little recourse for non-performance when they had no bond or insurance to claim against.

Suggesting that there needed to be greater government oversight of the shipping industry, Mr Butler said Freeport-based firms had little choice - it was either G&G or Tropical Shipping.

“They are our only lifeline of supply from Florida, and they seem to be having difficulties in getting our goods to us in a timely manner, especially perishables and short dated goods,” he told Tribune Business.

“My perishable goods were supposed to be here on Thursday at 6am. I always get my perishables then, and my perishable customers show up on Thursday afternoon and Friday during the day.

“I got my produce at 6.30am on Saturday, when it was finally delivered to us. We will have to pay a lot of overtime fees [to Customs] if this happens on a regular basis.”

Mr Butler said G&G had picked up the 40-foot refrigerated container, which held milk, eggs, bread and meats, on Thursday afternoon as normal.

He suggested bad weather may have been a factor in the late delivery, with G&G’s ship having to delay its voyage, but there had been no communication from the company to clarify what was happening.

Asked to quantify the impact on Butler’s Food World, Mr Butler told Tribune Business: “In the three-day period, we lost about $60,000 in sales and $15,000-$20,000 in profits.

“All those customers come in for perishables, eggs and such, and they went to other stores. My sales were cut in half by G&G. We lost all that business for the three-day week, and lost the goodwill of people who instead went up to Solomon’s and Cost Right to do all their shopping there. We probably lost a lot more revenue than we have.”

In a bid for compensation, Mr Butler added: “I’m trying to get my attorney to put in a claim, and we’ll see what happens.

“We have no recourse. Is there some type of Government oversight on these shippers? Is there no recourse for loss of profits and goods that spoil? Anyway, I am still looking for answers.”

A detailed Tribune Business message left yesterday on the personal answer phone for Barons Vidal, G&G Shipping’s Fort Lauderdale-based general manager, was not returned.

Mr Butler said that, in the past, when its service was impacted by bad weather, G&G had transported his refrigerated container to West Palm Beach and put it on the Celebration cruise ship, which calls on Freeport.

“We got no notice or call on Wednesday,” Mr Butler added, disclosing that G&G did inform it on Thursday that their shop was not sailing.

“No reason given,” he said. “We called and left six messages for Barons Vidal, and have not yet heard from him. We were later told the boat would leave Florida on Thursday, arriving Freeport on Friday.

“The ship arrived on Friday night at 11pm. We got our perishable goods on Saturday morning at 10:30 am.”


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