Choosing the Cheapest Quote

We all know that cheapest isn’t always best.  In some instances there is no difference between a costly and a cheaper option.  However, in international shipping, there can be a vast difference.  The best way to ensure you are making an informed decision is by checking that you are comparing like for like.  For example, if you are importing three pallets from the USA, and require a door to door shipping service, you may get one quote from an agent of X, and a quote from another agent for Y.  But the quote for X (which looks much cheaper and more attractive) doesn’t actually cover the whole service, it just covers the ocean freight.  Because X is much cheaper you go for that option, believing this is all you need to pay, believing that all elements are covered.  But what about the US pick up, export clearance, UK customs clearance and the delivery to your door?  Not only is this now suddenly much more expensive than you were originally promised, now you’re annoyed that the freight forwarder wasn’t upfront with you in the first place.  Can this freight forwarder that misquoted even offer you those extra options on your shipping?  If they can’t who do you ask to arrange that for you?  It becomes confusing, complicated and unnecessarily stressful.

The bottom line is, if a ‘comparative’ quote sounds much cheaper, then it probably isn’t comparative.  Make sure you check exactly what this covers.  The seemingly cheaper option might not actually be cheaper when it comes to the crunch.  At Mercator, we make sure we know exactly what you need us to arrange for you and quote based on that.  We never hide fees or present you with invoices you were not expecting.  We have been in business for 25 years and our first customer is still our customer today.

Not Doing your Research

As a UK retailer, you are in the market to import ceramic tiles into the UK.  You find a supplier in China, the price is good and you like the product.  But did you know there is a high ‘anti-dumping duty’ on ceramic tiles from China?  Perhaps if you knew that, the tiles that you were considering importing from another country would have been in the same league.

The best thing to do is find what you want to import or export, do a bit of reading up online, can you find any specific measures which may make what you want to do difficult or expensive?  Discussing this with a freight forwarder could answer the questions that you have.  Do not purchase or agree to purchase anything until you know it is possible to ship what you want to ship and have investigated your costs of shipping.

Whether you are looking to import or export goods from the UK, Mercator can assist you with quotations, regulations, VAT & Duty tariffs, and even restrictions overseas.  We have a freight forwarding partner agent in over 95 countries worldwide thanks to our founding membership of the global network MarcoPoloLine.  If you have a query about an export to a certain country, we can call upon specialist knowledge from our freight forwarding partner located there, making the process straight forward and hassle free for you.

Not knowing your Costs

If you are in discussion about selling some goods to a customer in Australia (for example) you may need to let them know how much the shipping cost will be so that they can decide whether they complete the purchase.  Unless you have shipped a similar sized shipment to Australia before, it is not worth estimating the cost.  Make sure you get a solid quote from a freight forwarder (like Mercator).  The last thing you want to do is estimate it will cost X, ask your customer to pay you X, and then when you go to ship it, it costs Y and you are now out of pocket.  A reputable freight forwarder will be able and willing to get you costings for export and import shipments based on a prospective sale or purchase.

If you use Mercator to arrange your shipping, we will make sure that you know what you need to pay and when, so there are no nasty surprises.

Mercator is a reputable freight forwarder based in the UK.  We have over 20 years’ experience in international shipping and trade.  Our service is more than just arranging the shipping for you, we offer helpful advice and information so that you can make informed choices when it comes to international shipping.  If you’d like to discuss your shipping tasks with one of our team, then feel free to call us +44 2392 756 575 or email

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    Please note we are unable to handle personal shipments.