Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue May 15 2012 09:10:53

USPS Electronics Ban to Impact International Sales

By: Ina Steiner

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The USPS is banning international shipments of electronics that contain lithium batteries effective May 16 through January 1, 2013, and it could have a major impact on online merchants.

The U.S. Postal Service will not accept packages containing lithium batteries and electronic devices containing lithium batteries addressed to international destinations. This includes mail destined to, or from, military destinations including APO (Army Post Office), FPO (Fleet Post Office) and DPO (Diplomatic Post Office) locations.

Fast Company, which broke the story, said only one other country has instituted a complete ban for international shipments.

The ban will make it much more expensive for sellers who wish to ship items iPads and other tablets, radio-controlled toys, GPS devices, power drills, MP3 players and other devices to overseas customers- including to men and women serving in the military - since they will have to turn to private delivery firms UPS, DHL and FedEx.

If you sell products containing lithium batteries, you'll likely need to adjust your S&H charges for international orders, and the policy will likely have a major impact on this year's holiday shopping season.

Read the news story about the ban in EcommerceBytes, and let us know what you think of this policy and if it will affect your sales.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for USPS Electronics Ban to Impact International Sales   USPS Electronics Ban to Impact International Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Tue May 15 10:17:01 2012

Other than relying on the honesty of the shipper... how would they know?

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by: Charlie B This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 15 11:16:28 2012

If lithium batteries are so dangerous, why can I take an iPad or a smartphone on a commercial airplane?

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by: Scotty This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 15 11:27:17 2012

Will this only be applied to US based sellers shipping to destinations outside the USA...or does it include similar items being shipping INTO the USA from China for instance?  If they are banning this only in one direction....I really would not have words to describe this act.  The announcement from the USPS is not clear in this regard.

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by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 15 11:39:17 2012

Scotty,

As recently dicussed in another thread, I suspect that international mail (ePacket) from China arrives presorted via private courier, so the ban most likely will not apply.

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This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
Web Site

Tue May 15 12:00:45 2012

I can understand that lithium batteries can be dangerous, but if traffic is only stopped one way. It is a ''stupid'' rule that the USPS is following without non sense.

I don't understand the USPS. They are crying to everybody that they are loosing money, but they shoot themselves in their feet without reason. If they begin to ban items. I will not be surprise if these ban for electronics becomes Domestic.

As far I said long time ago in PSU. Some ''strange'' forces are working to take down the USPS. And it looks like the worst enemies are working from the inside.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue May 15 13:17:12 2012

Fortunately our business will not be effected as we do not currently have inventory of items with lithium batteries and we refuse to ship overseas.

The USPS is in desperate need of revenue and they are willfully refusing business and handing the revenue to other carriers?

Given that no other carrier has yet to announce a similar ban I fail to understand why only the US Postal Service is imposing this ban.

With arbitrary self defeating decisions such as this, there is little wonder the Postal Service loses millions of dollars a day.

The postal service may be headed by a different Donahoe, but the result of self defeating policies remains eerily the same.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue May 15 16:49:47 2012

Mentioned this to the full time clerk at my local post office today who was totally unaware of this new policy.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Tue May 15 20:06:12 2012

Probably some union rule about not handling lithium batteries or some such nonsense.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue May 15 20:38:21 2012

I had a long talk with a senior USPS employee this afternoon. They received the memo last week.

According to this person, it's Post Offices in foreign countries that no longer want to handle lithium batteries.

A careful reading of USPS policies regarding prohibited materials also includes such innocuous items (in hazmat terms) as precious metal jewelry as well.

The above restriction isn't at the behest of USPS; it's based on restrictions foreign governments and/or their Post Offices are placing on incoming parcels in international mail agreements.

So let's quit bashing the Postal Service and unions until we know the facts, OK?

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by: The Danni App This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue May 15 22:39:58 2012

I am wondering if there is some higher agency passing this one down - perhaps there was some intel that there was some plan to shape bombs as batteries or something on that order - who knows!
It is what it is...  will have to ship those electronics sans batteries and let them purchase them from the same side of the pond.

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by: Quality First This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 15 22:49:37 2012

Here's one for you.

Shipped a pair of vintage (America)speakers to a customer in China. Freight charges for the 2 boxes was $1,750 USD.

But, to transport speakers that have magnets in them, like all speakers do, was a no-go.  That is, of course, until a little per$ua$ion was put in play.  Still, it was against the "regulations".  

Why?  Who knows.

But to ship to the USA a blender, bench grinder or other items that use magnets in their motors is just peachy on their end.

Go figure.

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This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles

Tue May 15 23:16:24 2012

@Ming the Merciless, you are right we need to investigate before making comments, but with all the mess in the USPS anything that its happening right now will be consider their fault or the government.

@Ric, some of them don't know info of the different services offered in Internet by USPS.

As far I can tell to everybody the USPS press group is only good to tell price increases. But new rules/restrictions I can only learn from them in the Internet.

I was searching UPU. The USA is part of the Universal Postal Union, but it looks like only cover governments postal service. So it looks like UPS, Fedex, and whatever else have a new revenue to make a party.

Surprise China isn't part of it.

http://www.upu.int/en/resources/postcodes/looking-up-a-post
code/list-of-sites-by-country.html

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by: sickandtired This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 15 23:42:09 2012

I'm with Ming on this one.....there may be more to the story than is apparent at the moment. If the issue does lie with the receiving countries then it is unfair to chastise the USPS. I'm a Canadian seller so as of now this does not affect me, but I have had to make accommodations over the years with regard to items that cannot be sent via our postal system.

At least with this problem, there is an easy fix - just mail electronics without the batteries.

Just wondering though, if Canada Post has no ban on these batteries does that mean that US sellers will be able to ship items as usual or is this going to be a blanket ban simply to placate a few countries?  

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by: biddude This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 16 00:00:46 2012

It seems to me as if the USPS has a death wish or something.Or is it? Why would any organization that is losing money refuse business.Weather the post office likes it or not the good ol days are over for them.You mean to tell me that the post office couldn't modernize and compete with UPS,Fed Ex and the rest Common since would tell you that our own government is letting the post office fail.I believe its just another Wall Street takeover.Another master plan to privatize the mail system completely.God forbid if the post office goes away,You think the cost of postage is high now.Look Out!  

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by: Filadelfos This user has validated their user name.
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Wed May 16 06:49:47 2012

This is another example of decisions being made by people who have incomplete or incorrect facts.  The ONLY time a LiPO is potentially dangerous is when it is being charged.  Period.  LiPOs are otherwise so safe, they are used in a variety of RC Vehicles (including airplanes & helicopters), and can survive serious crashes.  The only examples of danger I can think of are from several years ago when some poorly made Li-Ion batteries were causing peoples cell phones to burn in their pockets.  Those kinds of batteries really no longer exist.

Bill

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by: nobody This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 16 10:57:50 2012

How sad for our 130,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. The young men and women deployed to remote outposts in Afghanistan for instance, rely soley on the electric items -- that require new batteries throughout their one year deployment -- that family and friends send them, as well as what they order online (however, many times those items have to be mailed to a family member/friend in the USA, then remailed to the soldier)... these soldiers need their electronic items for so many reasons. Shaving, music, relaxation and communication with the outside world. They would live a horrifying and lonely existence without them. My nephew is a combat medic and saw some pretty horrible things, such as trying to save the lives of his friends who'd been shot and blown up before his eyes, and without those distracting devices, would have nothing else to think about.

Not to mention the HUGE amount of revenue collected by the USPS while shipping to our deployed soldiers. I sent 1-4 large packages per month to my nephew, and even with the military "discount", it was very expensive. This does not include postage paid for the packages that I ordered for him through other support groups on top of those.

Thank goodness he just returned home 6 weeks ago and won't be subjected to this bs, but my heart goes out to all of the other soldiers who won't have the "luxury" of trying to take their minds off of the horror with reading a kindle, listening to an mp3 player, contacting family and friends using their tablet or laptop, reading a book when they can't sleep at night using an led clip-on or even shaving their heads and faces as well as a million other reasons they need lithium batteries.

Soldiers are taxpayers too, I can only imagine how they'll just love bailing out the postal service every year (while also paying govt "agencies" to work up a plan to try and stop the usps' death spiral) with their tax dollars, all while being denied these items. Angry? Hell yes I'm angry over this. I know how desperately our soldiers rely on battery op'd devices. Total bullchit.

This is "ebay level" stupidity. I agree, elpereles, it would seem they are trying to commit suicide just like ebay did, and like facebook, yahoo, myspace, google, aol and twitter have and/or are trying to.

All large corporations seem to be stuck on stupid these days, completely forgetting that their success is made or broken by their level of customer service.

If only they had a brain...... or someone with their best interests at the helm.

P.S. In case you haven't heard, we're never leaving Afghanistan and will be setting up a base there, just like Germany, Japan and so many other countries. Anything else you hear is a lie.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 16 11:55:48 2012

I cant blame USPS for this one IF its not comming from them as Ming said ... however, almost everything electronic thats portable has LION batteies in them.

LION is MUCH more stable in extreme conditions then older types of recharegables - even more stable then alkalines (I asked DAD hes a chemist for the US NAVY).

Ipods, Ipads, Digital Cameras, Digital Video Cameras, Watches, Modems, Routers, etc (anything thats got some kind of battery back up), some clock radios, walkie talkies etc..

Its a LONG list and whom ever is making these rules needs to rethink it/modify it to make it match reality.

Question is, how long before this issue is spread from just APOetc to shipments world wide? Then how would you ship electronic items?

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This user has validated their user name. by: TrentDep

Wed May 16 12:22:25 2012

@ Ming

''So let's quit bashing the Postal Service and unions until we know the facts, OK?''

The ''Facts'' are exactly what the USPS has made public - and given that there is very little in way of explanation, I say we bash away!

Much like Ebay, the USPS ( indirectly, through its union members mostly ) has placed itself in a position that we assume ~ The Worst ~ and ~ Have At It ~...

I'm sorry, but your '' long talk with a senior USPS employee '' doesn't do a lot for me - in fact, I just had a VERY long talk with the Postmaster ( or is it Postmistress since she is a she ? ) at my local branch, and she said that holiday fruit cakes are next - the union is tired of strained backs as a result of small, innocuous looking packages turning out to be so heavy...

Anyway - I'm guesssing that your and my source have no more access to ~ What's Really Going On ~ than you or I...

To wit :

''USPS based its decision on guidelines set the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Universal Postal Union. The groups issue guidelines for global trade.''

http://tinyurl.com/7lztvwc  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed May 16 15:06:35 2012

The Postal Workers union is hardly the entity responsible for USPS's precarious financial position.

Posters of a certain political persuasion always want to blame unions for every conceivable economic problem this country has.

The the case of USPS, it was a congress of the same political persuasion under an IQ challenged president of this same political persuasion that passed a law requiring the Postal Service to fund their pension plan 65 years into the future which is patently absurd.

There was nothing wrong the pension plan back then, but these politicians of this specific political persuasion wanted to corporatize the Postal service, eliminate another union, and Fed-X wanted to buy it.

So they passed a poison pill law that they knew within a few years would bankrupt USPS so politicians of this particular political persuasion could say, "See? USPS got itself into a terrible mess and now has to be fixed. We need to privatize it."

These are the facts, and only those of you watching Rupert Murdoch's propaganda machine with fantasy 'news' could possibly believe otherwise.

And, TrentDep, I read the memo! Your postmaster apparently hasn't yet read the memo.

No, no one in my family does or has ever worked for USPS.

No, USPS is not a government agency.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed May 16 15:11:44 2012

The Universal Postal Union is NOT the USPS union!!!!

It's a worldwide postal union of postal employees from several countries.

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