Well, I thought I had seen it all but the oddities just keep coming. A few bottles of vodka sent as samples the other day were returned as dangerous goods because you can send spirits Priority but not Economy through FedEx Spain. They travel on the same aeroplane!
Then we had the despatch of a mobility scooter turned down by one courier because they said “you should have seen what happened to the last one!” so damage in transit was too great a risk.
We have found it virtually impossible to import mobile telephones from China (although I know how to do it now) because their batteries are considered dangerous. On investigation, I have found out that there is a slight danger if the battery is already inserted into the telephone as this creates a connection across the positive and negative poles but there is no danger whatsoever from a battery in a new boxed mobile because it is held seperate from the telephone in a plastic bag and not inserted until the point of sale. Imagine how many mobiles there are in a large aircraft with 300 passengers on board, not to mention the netbooks and laptops and they all contain Li-ion batteries which are already connected. How dangerous is that?
But today takes the biscuit. FedEx despatch calmly sent me an email saying that a package was being returned because it contained a firearm when the declared documents were papers. What? I went into panic mode, I had to identify the sending office, destination, ask advice on what to do. But by the time I got through all this, the gun from Spain was already on its way back to sender with a polite note to ask them not to mis-declare the contents in the future. As they said, “why bother when you can walk into any gun shop in the USA and buy one”.
I once worked for a company that sold furniture and they sent a sample of a wooden table to the USA in a medium size box on which a bored employee had drawn a skull and crossbones in thick felt-tip and written “Warning this contains a bomb”. I think the box got through eventually but when the MD went out to seal the deal he was arrested on arrival in the USA on terrorism charges and held for five hours before he could convince them of the story. (The employee was fired the same day). I suppose this pistol from Spain could have made me persona non grata in the US had it been stopped over there.
I rang the Citibox office that had sent this package and the lady owner, quite rightly, said that she could only declare what the customer had declared to her. She will be handing over the returned package, unopened, to the Guardia Civil and providing a copy of the photo ID that we demand from every customer. It is not for me to judge whether the firearm is legal or not but I believe that all registered weapons in Spain would have their serial numbers recorded on the owner’s license and you would therefore take steps to get an export certificate.
All courier shipments are x-rayed and there are also “sniffer” machines that can detect drugs and other undesireable shipments. Please everyone, do not think that your shipment will get through. Especially don’t try it through a Citibox office – we will report every single incident immediately. I’ll keep you updated!