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KOKUA LINE


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Shipper hopes to find culprits, repay owners of unsent cargo

For Tuesday, June 7, 2011

By June Watanabe

POSTED:



Question: Can you provide an update on what’s going on with all the boxes shipped to the Philippines by PB Direct Express that haven’t been delivered? Unverified reports have it that the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs would be sending a lawyer to the Philippines.

Answer: The DCCA’s Office of Consumer Protection is continuing to investigate PB Direct Express and its sister company Philbox Express, said Jeffrey Brunton, temporary acting executive director.

Although hundreds of people are believed to have shipped their boxes via the two companies, OCP had received only 13 complaints as of last week.

Brunton declined to go into specifics of the investigation because it is ongoing. However, he did say that no investigator was being sent to the Philippines.

As we reported last month — www.staradvertiser.com/news/kokualine/20110513_Shippers_file_for_
bankruptcy_and_leave_isle_parcels_in_limbo.html
— a separate company in Waipahu, Millennium Express & Travel, was asking affected customers of the two now-defunct companies to call so it could come up with an inventory of boxes left in limbo in the Philippines.

Two shipping containers remain in the custody of the Philippine Bureau of Customs. If payments aren’t made soon, the contents might be declared abandoned and auctioned off. Affected customers face paying again to have their boxes delivered.

More information can be found on Hawaii’s Better Business Bureau website — www.bbb.org/hawaii/business-reviews/freight-forwarding/philbox-express-in-honolulu-hi-53003039.

Leandro Estrada, who operated Philbox Express/PB Direct Express with his wife, Maria, said he understands the anger of his customers, but told us he is also a victim.

He said he paid people he knew and trusted to make the deliveries, only to find out too late that the deliveries were not made, the money pocketed and his trucks in the Philippines used for other purposes.

Asked whether he was pursuing criminal charges, Estrada said the Honolulu Police Department told him this appeared to be a civil, not criminal, matter. However, he said he could not afford an attorney to pursue the case in civil court.

Estrada said that after building up his business over 20 years, he is broke, his business bankrupt, his house facing foreclosure and the future of his family uncertain.

“They stole my life and the future of my (four) children,” he said, weeping, of the men who allegedly are responsible for the undelivered shipments.

He says if the owners of the boxes being held by Philippine Customs are willing to pay extra for now to get them released and if “we can pursue these two … agents,” he hopes to be able to repay his customers “just to redeem myself.”

At this point, he said, “That’s the best I can do.” He is hoping to find an attorney who can help pursue his case.

MAHALO

To Jesse Cotton Taylor, who stopped his car in the middle of Hamakua Drive one Sunday morning a few months ago and jumped out in traffic to help my husband as he dragged our black Labrador retriever, Ele‘ele, across four lanes of traffic with two pit bulls attached to her neck! The pit bulls had jumped out of a parked van (which had its windows rolled down) and attacked our dog as we walked by. My husband was trying to get her out of the other dogs’ “territory,” but they wouldn’t let go. We sincerely appreciate Jesse’s help in getting the two dogs to finally back off and run away. After a few stitches and shots, Ele‘ele is fine. Thanks so much, Jesse!

— Renae (and Jeff) Bell, Kailua

Write to “Kokua Line” at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.






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