EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3168 - October 07, 2013     3 of 4

eBay Warns of Delays from Hong Kong Due to Lithium-Battery Ban

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Online buyers and sellers are again facing challenges due to lithium batteries, this time with imports of goods rather than exports. eBay warned buyers around the world this month that shipments from Hong Kong are being delayed due to extra screenings in that country thanks to its policy banning the air mailing of dangerous products.

Because many popular products exported from Hong Kong include lithium batteries, these latest delays could impact holiday sales. Products with lithium batteries include video cameras, walkie talkies/2-way radios, GPS devices, radio-controlled toys, Bluetooth headsets, smartphones/mobiles, laptop computers, shavers, power drills, tablets and portable DVD players.

Hongkong Post bans certain items from being shipped via air mail (including Speedpost) that contain dangerous articles such as perfumery products, lighters and lithium batteries in order to "safeguard aviation security." Items prohibited from being sent via air mail include liquid beauty products, including fragrances, colognes, lotions, and toner; and items with "eliquids" such as electronic cigarettes and lighters.

While the ban on such products is not new, at the end of August Hongkong Post announced it was imposing "on-the-spot checking" for packages that did not pass its x-ray screening. In its August 30th notice, it wrote, "Though normal batteries and liquids are not dangerous articles, their sender may be required to come to the Air Mail Centre for on-the-spot checking of the mail which do not pass the x-ray screening."

The delays impact not only consumer buyers who purchase directly from Hong Kong sellers, but merchant buyers who plan to resell the goods.

In mid-September, a Hongkong Post explained, "All mail items entering the Air Mail Centre are subject to x-ray screening. Recently, there is an increasing number of air mail items detected to contain suspected dangerous articles, in particular, lithium batteries, which lengthens the screening process. In this connection, air mail registration service, iMail service and Bulk Air Mail service may be subject to delay. Any inconvenience caused is much regretted.

As for eBay, it informed buyers, "If you don't receive your item after waiting the additional week, please contact your seller. If your item was returned, you should receive a refund. If you encounter any issue with a refund, you can file an eBay Buyer Protection case."

The USPS lifted its ban on international air shipments of lithium batteries last November, but that didn't guarantee the arrival of such goods in consumers' hands, as this article in Stars and Stripes explained at the time.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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