Cargo, Containers & Craziness – The Case of The Abandoned T-Shirts

Some people think that freight is a dull business. But you’d be surprised at some of the crazy things that happen.

With over 20 years in the industry I’ve collected up a fair few funny, fascinating and even mind-boggling stories. Like the case of the abandoned T-Shirts…

A little while ago we had a customer here in the UK who wanted to import some T-Shirts from Bangladesh. He found himself a supplier, placed the order and all was running smoothly.

Until they arrived.

The ship docked, the cargo was unloaded, and several pallets of 1562 individual T-Shirts arrived on UK soil ready for the customer to collect.

But he had changed his mind.

I’ve no idea why. He hadn’t seen them so it couldn’t be a quality issue. They’d arrived on time so it wasn’t a deadline problem. He didn’t give me a reason, just made it very clear he did NOT want these T-Shirts.

Now, personally I think that if you’re going to buy 1562 of anything, you make sure you definitely want it first, but hey ho…

So, this shipment of T-Shirts sat uncollected for 12 weeks. No one knew what to do with them.

I contacted UK Customs & Excise to ask for their advice. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but their response left me feeling confused and a little irate.

Their suggestion was to destroy them. To burn 1562 perfectly good T-Shirts.

Now, I know in a lot of ways our country is very fortunate. Our homeless and poverty rates are not high in comparison to the rest of the world, but we do still have more than 320,000 people living on the streets, without shelter or adequate clothing. Yet Customs and Excise are advising us to destroy perfectly good clothes? Go figure…

It just didn’t sit right with me.

So, I did a little thinking and started making some calls. Within a couple of hours, I had found a new home for them, a local charity shop just down the road.

The T-Shirts were delivered and put to good use.
So, what’s the moral of the story? It could be don’t order 1562 of something unless you want it? But I think a more helpful take from this tale is that sometimes it’s worth the extra effort to do the right thing, not just follow the “normal” procedure.