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Feb 7, 2023

Is a Shipping Company Ghosting Customers?

Online shopping and shipping is a growing business in Belize. A click on the computer to delivery at your door is a much sought after convenience. Although in Belize, it’s no overnight delivery, and all online shoppers must find a trustworthy shipping company to get their goods into the country. Unfortunately for one customer, her choice of shipping company left her with no goods months later, and the shipping company has completely ghosted her. That unsatisfied customer has now filed police reports in the U.S. and Belize about not having received items she shipped in April of 2022. It’s almost nine months, and the incident seems not to be isolated, as others are speaking out about having the same issue. News Five’s Duane Moody went looking for answers and filed this report.


Minette Ramclam

Minette Ramclam, Aggrieved Customer

“She said to me, I am hard-working single Belizean mom. I am running this business on my own. And I said to her, I understand your concerns, but it is not mine. It’s your business and your business is to pick up my box and deliver it and you get paid to do that. That’s all my concern is.”


Duane Moody, Reporting

Minette Ramclam is one of many persons who have taken to social media to express concerns over the service of shipping company. She says that back in April of 2022, she handed over cash and three boxes of items for delivery to Belize – but her items have not been delivered. The company was based in Illinois, where she lived. Since she was migrating back to Belize, her items were picked up from her house in the U.S. and were to be delivered to Belize before her arrival. She’s been back since the end of December, and her items are still not here.


Minette Ramclam

“I was looking for reputable shipping agency and this one was recommended to me. So I contacted the business manager, and she came and she explained how it worked and it seemed very simple. She is just gonna come to your door, pick your stuff up and it is going to be in Belize in two weeks. And I thought this can’t be so easy right. I don’t have to do anything and that’s how it started. She came to my home in Chicago, Illinois, in Wheeling. She picked up three boxes which was going to be like a test for me. If the shipment went well, I could use her to relocate all my stuff. She came in April of 2022, she collected three boxes, she got paid in full and three months went by and I thought maybe I should contact her or maybe everything is okay. I didn’t know.   After six months I started looking for her and I had a hard time finding her.”


When we checked online, we could only find posts made to promote the business and its pickup dates, but the link to the website and social media page is broken. We attempted to reach the numbers on the receipt for the Belize City office, but they were out of service. We did get an email and a U.S. telephone number, and a message to both have gone unanswered at this time. The in-country address says it is on Sixth Street in the King’s Park Area in Belize City. However, we confirmed with the property owner that the shipping company was evicted from that location in April 2022. Ramclam says that the same happened in Zion, Illinois.


Minette Ramclam

“I drove to Zion, Illinois – that’s where she was supposed to have her business. To my dismay, it was a bunch of locked warehouses and I thought immediately that I’ve been scammed. That’s what I thought. This is not a business; it is a bunch of locked warehouses. And I looked around and I found the property manager and I explained to them that I am looking for this business and the property manager told me that the business was evicted a year ago for non-payment.”


Duane Moody

“So that means that when…”


Minette Ramclam

 “…when she came to pick up my boxes, she no longer was in that place of business. And I don’t know where she was. I just know that. So I decided to go to the Zion Police to help, maybe they can help me locate where the new business is. And I went and made a report and the police told me I am among many people looking for this lady.”


During the pandemic, there was a surge in these types of companies. Vice President of the Customs Brokers Association of Belize Delroy Fairweather says they are not to be confused with established shipping agents. Referred to as consolidators, these services are more personal – where the person would go to the houses, pick up barrels and boxes, consolidate and then ship them into Belize.


Delroy Fairweather

Delroy Fairweather, Vice President, Custom Brokers Association of Belize

“What people did was get innovative and started ordering online. You have a lot of families within the U.S., the diaspora community that would ordinarily ship down stuff into Belize. With that what you found was that there was an exponential growth with people who are considered consolidators, bringing in barrels, boxes and so forth. Again, like I said, people weren’t able to travel and most people would have just sat down right around their computers and just ordered stuff. The distinction between a shipping agent and these consolidators. The shipping agents are the more established companies who they’re actual agents for vessels that operate and bring cargo, whereby these consolidators would rent space, get a container, fill it and then they will ship it into Belize. So, one of the safeguards that I would always tell people is to know who you are shipping your stuff with.”


Fairweather explains that there are, at times, logistical issues, including financial constraints, that may affect consolidators from delivering their services.


Delroy Fairweather

“For example the Christmas holidays right here. You had several shipments which were held up not because of the customs or the port; it’s just the logistics that were not planned properly. And this is one of the things that people don’t understand. You can’t just pick up people stuff and pretend as if you understand the logistics because there is transit time from the time you pick it up to get it to the port; there is also the transit time from the port into Belize – there’s transhipment points and all that. And if you don’t understand that, then you may say I’ll pick your stuff up today and it will be in Belize by next week. No. What you need to ensure that you can catch that cut-off time with that vessel to ensure that that container is loaded and those stuff are here. And then when it reaches the transhipment port, if the vessel does not reach on time, that’s another problem again. But to have goods sitting in port for months on a time; that’s nothing to do anything with shipping agents, etc.  It has to be that individual who took on that responsibility to bring in those cargo, that is the person that needs to explain what is happening. From some of what I have been hearing, and I stand to be corrected, it may be lack of financial resources to pay the duties and taxes, even the freight cost and so forth.”


Duane Moody for News Five.


Just before news time, the owner contacted News Five where she says that she sold the company a year ago, even though the receipt from Ramclam shows that she used the services in April 2022. She also says she has contacted Ramclam and four others to say that they will received their items in the next week or two. The owner, who contacted us through a whatsapp call from a U.S. number, says that she will be providing a notice from last year that was issued about the company shutting down.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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