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Update #12: Moth Bag Drama

Update #12: Moth Bag Drama

Hello everyone!

We unfortunately don’t have the exciting news you are hoping for. We’re still working with the shipping company to arrange delivery but we’re here to explain why it’s taken so long. Buckle up—it’s a little wild.

When we launched the Moth Bag pre-order, we mentioned we’d never had substantial supply chain hiccups to date.

A screenshot of our pre-order launch blog detailing unexpected update expectations.

A friendly reminder regarding the last line: we will happily answer any questions you may have about your order, but please present your concerns with kindness. We want you to have your bag just as much as you do!

“Anything could happen,” we said… What we didn’t expect was that our shipment would be used as ransom. That’s right, our little mothies are part of a ransom deal.

So why has it taken so long for us to share?

It’s been a little while and we do sincerely apologize for the silence.

We have been careful not to share too much as the situation has been constantly evolving since we expected the Corduroy Bags to be delivered in mid-October. We only recently found out the truth as to why the bags have continuously been delayed and have had a lot to unpack. Our team has been working to understand what has actually been happening and we didn't want to share without certainty. We believed sharing partial, unconfirmed information was poor judgment that would lead to more confusion.

Rather than stay quiet or provide more vague posts, we wanted to outline everything related to the delay that’s happened so far. We have a lot of new customers who discovered us through this pre-order and want to make sure we’re transparent as possible to reduce any worries or doubts about Carmico’s involvement. We assure you that we are doing everything within our power to secure the shipment. 

Here’s a timeline of everything that’s happened so far:

tl;dr

  • We were lied to about alleged delivery attempts mentioned in our previous blog posts
  • We were only provided the full picture in the last week or so but have refrained from updates as the situation has been constantly changing and continues to change; we wanted to have as much information as possible so we didn’t have to back pedal if things changed
  • The Canadian freight forwarder is holding our shipment as ransom to collect outstanding payments from another company they do business with
  • We have reached out to a number of law firms for guidance and will work with a legal team if we cannot find another way to resolve this by the end of next week

Note: Due to the nature of business and the sensitive situation at hand, we are not disclosing company names or information. We want to avoid doxing, spamming, and other forms of abuse that could lower our chances of securing our shipment.

If you continue to read the details below, keep in mind that we're sharing this with you so that you know that we're doing the best that we can given minimal cooperation, poor communication, and outright false information.

Timeline

October 12th, 2023

Our supplier informed us that she was told by her shipping agent that the delivery of Corduroy Bags was denied by our warehouse because “they didn’t accept the information”. The shipment was returned to sender. An Empty Running Fee (a fee for shipping a partial load) was incurred for an unknown reason; likely because the shipment was returned to Vancouver without our consent.

They claimed that our warehouse had denied the shipment. Our warehouse did not and they have no reason to deny it since they, one, have been prepared for it since February, and two, earn a lot of guaranteed business for accepting pre-order stock. We wrote a blog post about this one.

October 12 - Correspondence indicating rejection from a warehouse.

October 16th, 2023

Our supplier informed us that the Corduroy Bags that were shipped back to Vancouver had been redirected and were on the way back to Ontario. Our supplier continued to avoid providing contact information for other companies as they dealt with the situation.

At the time (October 16th) we thought our supplier was intentionally avoiding providing contact information while her freight forwarder was dealing with the situation. Now, with more context, we understand that she could not get the required information from the last forwarder in the chain because it was lost to bureaucracy.

October 19th, 2023

The situation escalated and we were provided contact information for the overseas freight forwarder. We contacted the freight forwarder and provided context regarding the failed delivery of our shipment.

October 23rd, 2023

The Corduroy Bags allegedly arrived at the shippers warehouse and would be delivered “as soon as possible”. We provided delivery requirements to be relayed to the delivery driver so that the shipment would arrive as expected. At this time we did not believe that the shipment would be delivered within the time they had promised. We were suspicious of the circumstances and opted not to write another post until we had confirmation from our warehouse that we had received the goods. This was the beginning of their use of smoke and mirrors.

October 24th, 2023

We were assured the shipment would not be returned to sender and that the delivery agency planned to load the truck with our goods later that evening. We asked for them to confirm the delivery address. They said, “We have already confirmed the address.” They did not repeat the address to us. More smoke and mirrors.

October 26th, 2023

Still no word from the local delivery agent so we reached out to the overseas freight forwarder asking for their contact information. We did not get an answer.

October 28th, 2023

The overseas freight forwarder made another promise for delivery on Monday, October 30th and that if the shipment was not delivered by Friday that they would expedite the delivery. We noted that they claimed Monday delivery first, then Friday, raising suspicions over the actual proposed date of delivery.

We expressed our frustrations and pointed out their lies and lateness. We told them that we would hire another service to complete delivery and requested the carrier’s contact information to arrange a service hand-off.

October 30th, 2023

We followed up as we had still not received a reply to our previous email regarding the service hand-off.

Later in the evening, we received an email from a new company stating that our shipment had been sorted at their facility and they were arranging a delivery appointment with the driver. They gave us an expected delivery date of November 10th. At the very least, this felt like progress. This company is the company we assumed would be completing the last mile delivery. Since they had contacted us with an expected delivery date and shipment information that matched our supplier records, we let things go until their expected delivery date.

October 31st, 2023

We felt like we had enough information to post an update. We summarized the freight forwarder’s shortcomings and a plan to gather the necessary information we’d need to have another company take over the shipment. We were careful not to provide any dates or concrete timelines in this blog post to avoid breaking a promise we didn’t have full control over keeping.

Considering all of the prior issues, we reached out to verify that they were confirming our shipment.

Later that day our supplier provided the contact info for an executive of the overseas freight forwarder. We contacted him to express our disappointment in their service and, again, demanded contact information for the local delivery agent. If this company who had just reached out to us couldn’t finish the job, we would find another company to do so.

We never received a reply.

November 1st, 2023

We provided a blog update as expected for the first of the month with all of the information we had to date. At this time we still did not know about missing payments and were under the impression that the delivery company was attempting to arrange delivery. We do our best to provide as much context without overwhelming you with shipping woes, so at the time, we said what we could with the information available to us.

Later that evening the last mile carrier confirmed our shipment and informed us that the Shaped Bags had arrived and were consolidated with the Corduroy Bags. Now all bags were awaiting delivery.

Note: “Pieces” means boxes or cartons containing more than one bag. There are thousands of bags in this shipment.

November 2nd, 2023

Our supplier provided a contact for the Canadian freight forwarder that would be handing off our goods to the last mile delivery service. We attempted to contact them over the next few business days.

November 7th, 2023

The contact for the Canadian freight forwarder finally answered after many attempted calls on Friday the 2nd and again on Monday the 6th. We provided all the information and context necessary for him to take action.

He informed us that the shipment was on hold due to a missing delivery fee payment and suggested we contact our supplier. We asked for the truth, since multiple companies had claimed that the shipment was scheduled for delivery. He stated that the shipment was on hold and would not continue until payment was made.

 

Important note: We paid (as always) the entirety of our delivery fees up front to our supplier. Our supplier then sent payment to the freight forwarder. We discovered later that our supplier had used a number of different freight forwarders within China, so the goods had been passed off more than is typical. The final freight forwarder in the chain is responsible for non-payment.

At this point we were incredibly frustrated and we had lost all of our trust in the companies responsible for poor communication and outright lies. We contacted our supplier to provide more context from the Canadian freight forwarder.

November 8th, 2023

We asked the Canadian freight forwarder to provide us with the outstanding balance required for our shipment to be released. They never provided an amount, they just said the amount was too much for us to cover.

Note how often we’ve been denied information or were deflected when requesting it, despite attempts to make amends at our expense. It has been incredibly frustrating but we are doing all that we can.

We continued this conversation via phone. Due to Canadian privacy laws, we cannot record phone calls.

November 14th, 2023

Our supplier informed us that an executive from their freight forwarder had travelled to Canada with a lawyer to arrange an agreement to have our shipment released. We discovered that there was an outstanding balance of $200,000 owed by a mediating freight company who handed the shipment off to the Canadian freight forwarder. The Canadian freight forwarder has refused to release our shipment until the mediating freight company pays their outstanding balance of $200,000. For reference, the cost of our shipment was about $18,000 for the entire journey from China to our warehouse. The payment needed for last-mile delivery should be a fraction of this.

Our supplier asked us to be patient and let the lawyer work things out as they planned to pay a portion of the outstanding balance to get things moving.

November 16th, 2023

Our supplier told us that their trusted freight forwarder had wired the arranged payment. International wire transfers can take up to 5 business days to be processed, so we are now waiting for the payment to be processed.

That afternoon, the Canadian freight forwarder started asking us a bunch of questions about our business, the addressee (Selina, our CEO), and his point of contact (Aidan, our COO). To ask for this information this late in the discussion after we had been in talks for more than a week was suspicious. At this point, we mentioned that we would take legal action against the company if they were wrongfully holding our goods.

“Peak season business” in reference to the Star and Flashback bags which are also included in this shipment. More about this later.

A woman from their accounting team called us to explain the situation. We mentioned that an arrangement had been made by our supplier's trusted freight forwarder of which she was unaware. She claimed that she was never contacted for payment details and was unaware of any payment arrangement. We provided contact info for our supplier so that they could discuss the issue further.

Later, one of the operators finally repeated our delivery address to us to confirm they had the correct delivery address.

November 17th, 2023

The Canadian freight forwarder provided photos of our shipment in their warehouse as proof that the shipment is still in their warehouse and is ready to be finalized once they receive payment.

November 21st, 2023

Late the previous night we were told that the owner of the company at fault was detained and that an executive from the Chinese freight forwarder was still in Canada meeting with a rep from the Canadian freight forwarder.

Two separate agents from The Canadian freight forwarder denied any payment arrangements and scheduled meetings. We, again, offered to pay the outstanding balance for our shipment owed by the company at fault.

The same woman from the accounting team that we spoke to prior called again. We had a 45-minute conversation to clarify facts and talk strategy. In that phone call, she implied that the Chinese freight forwarder had asked her not to disclose any more information to us or our supplier, but she was doing it anyways to put us at ease (and probably so that Aidan would get off their case).

We requested a timeline of events from their end because their timeline didn’t match up with ours.

November 22nd, 2023

We reminded her to provide the timeline as requested. This was the ensuing conversation:

Below is a screenshot of the timeline as per their vessel tracking service.

A lot has been revealed to us in the last few days. We have more questions to ask, like why we were told the Corduroy Bags were shipped separately when the only shipping records available imply that the bags all arrived together. We don’t suspect our supplier did this on purpose and it’s more likely that the shipments were combined by one of the intermediary freight forwarders contracted by our supplier's freight forwarder to save on costs. But this is the first form of concrete evidence (not for lack of trying) we’ve been provided, so we’re grateful for this at least.

Originally we wanted this post to go live on Monday, but since then we’ve received a tonne of vital information that was worth including. Pulling up all the records, censoring sensitive information, and presenting them in a manner that would be understood by all of you who are not directly involved in the process is time consuming.

We’re truly in a unique (and very illegal) situation, one we never thought we’d be in. We’ve shipped a substantial number of large oversea orders through pandemic closures and thankfully dodged the Suez Canal crisis. Dozens of third-parties have been involved in our supply chain since we started as a company in 2020 and none of those companies would have ever tried something like this; it’s incredibly bad business. We obviously will ensure that whoever is at fault is never involved in our supply chain again. This is the first substantial event that has impacted one of our shipments and we’re doing the best we can to move things along. We’re so sorry that you had to be a part of this experience.

So what next?

It could still be quite some time before we receive the shipment, or payment could be made and it could arrive by the end of the week, we really have no way of knowing. For now, we are waiting for payment confirmation from the Canadian freight forwarder in the next few days. We are trying to avoid legal action as it could tie up the shipment even further, but it may be the only way. We will be seeking legal advice this week while we wait for progress. If we aren’t any closer to receiving the shipment by the end of next week, we will hopefully have a legal case to take the offenders to court.

Friendly Reminders

As with all pre-orders and as mentioned in our launch blog, delivery dates are never guaranteed. We’re truly sorry to make you wait, but we’ve done everything within our control to stick to our original timelines. If we can secure the shipment this week, we could be done fulfillment by the second week of December. But that’s a big if.

As stated in previous blog posts and in our shipping policy, refunds and cancellations are not allowed for pre-orders after the purchase period ends. We understand that the information in this post is worrisome, but we ask you to please continue your patience and trust us to make things right. It is our responsibility to you to make sure you get your order, one way or another.

Update your address if you have moved! If you will be moving in December, it would be best to update your address now. Even if we started shipping by the end of this week, it’s unlikely that it would arrive before your move-in date.

We'll be back with an update by the end of next week.

Until then, enjoy Black Friday!

The CarmiCrew

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