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Bed Bath & Beyond seeks millions in freight disputes with ocean carriers

Bed Bath & Beyond has filed suit against two ocean carriers.

Bed Bath & Beyond is going after two container shipping lines for their alleged actions during the height of COVID-fueled supply chain disruption.

The embattled home goods retailer, which is in the process of going out of business after filing for bankruptcy,  filed a complaint with the Federal Maritime Commission in which it alleged that Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) pursued “brazen price gouging and profiteering.” The actions cost the company $31.7 million in extra freight charges as well as additional costs and lost profits. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

In the complaint, Bed Bath & Beyond stated that the “respondent brazenly demanded that complainant pay PSS surcharges in order to have any reasonable chance of getting its freight carried by respondent.” (PSS stands for peak season surcharges.)

The complaint cited an email December 22, 2020, in which an OOCL employee wrote to a Bed Bath & Beyond employee: “We suggest that Bed Bath & Beyond consider extending the PSS through February. This will not guarantee extra space, but it will help to differentiate Bed Bath & Beyond for procurement of equipment for the space allocated.”

Bed Bath & Beyond also alleged in the complaint that OOCL failed to meet minimum quantity commitments under its 2020 and 2021 service contracts, and that it gave away the retailer’s allocated space “to other shippers to maximize [its] own profits,” forcing the company “to obtain space on the spot market at enormous expense during a period of unprecedented high spot rates.”

The Wall Street Journal also reported that Bed Bath and Beyond has pursued a similar claim for $7.8 million, plus other costs, against Taiwan-based carrier, Yang Ming Marine Transport over allegations the company breached ocean transport contracts. Yang Ming has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan earlier in April looking to block the retailer’s claim.

To read the full Journal report, click here.

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