A Chinese logistics company made a costly mistake by freezing 2,000 cases of wine destined to Japan after misreading the dash sign in temperature instruction as a minus sign.
The saga began when an American company hired the Chinese logistics firm to ship over 2,000 cases of wine from Shanghai to Tokyo.
But when the shipment arrived ashore in Tokyo, the client was frozen in shock when he discovered the wines have turned from liquid to ice. The wines are completely ruined because the temperature in the container was set as minus 14 °C.
It turns out the shipper mistakenly read the dash sign to introduce instructed temperature setting of 14 °C as part of the temperature as minus 14 °C.
The sender ended up refunding the client in Japan but demanded a financial compensation from the Chinese logistics company.
What followed was a lawsuit on the semantics of the temperature reading at Shanghai Maritime Court.
The sender argued that the sign was a dash to introduce the instructed temperature setting, which should be “14°C”, and that it’s common knowledge for wine shipping temperature particularly for a logistics company. Therefore it demands the shipper to financially compensate for the damages it caused.
The logistics company, however, insisted that the damages are not its responsibility as it followed the sender’s shipping instruction, which by writing “- 14°C” it is interpreted as minus 14°C.
The case was brought to Shanghai Maritime Court and was eventually mediated to a mutually satisfactory settlement between the American company and the shipper through lawyer and professional mediator Peter Corne.
This is a cautionary tale for wineries, importers and shippers to always double check temperature setting to avoid sending either “cooked” or “frozen” wines.