This Heathkit vibrator power supply was
purchased from the U.S. eBay. As with many of my previous purchases, this
was to be sent to Australia using the Global Shipping Program. It's a lot
cheaper than USPS.
The concept is that the U.S. seller just sends it to the GSP centre in Kentucky, where Pitney Bowes, who have the contract for the GSP, then (apparently) repackages and sends the item off to the overseas country.
Alas, once my purchase arrived at the GSP
centre, I received the above message.
It turns out, from a bit of internet searching, that Pitney Bowes have a problem with vacuum tubes. This is the first item I've bought through the GSP where a vacuum tube is clearly visible. Obviously, through ignorance, and/or lack of education, the inspectors consider them dangerous. "Mercury" seemed to be one reason. Clearly, they have no idea what the silver deposit is on the glass, and the "gettering" process during valve manufacture.
Apparently, there's been plenty of rare
valve radios confiscated like this. What is even more obnoxious is that
not even the seller gets it returned. The audacity of big business is clearly
evident here, and like all things big business, there's nothing you can
do about it.
I find it particularly insulting for them to say "Don't worry!".
The only consolation is that this Heathkit power supply is not particularly rare, and another one will appear in due course. Needless to say, it will be posted via USPS, despite the extra cost.
If you buy vintage radio stuff off the U.S. eBay, make sure you do NOT use the Global Shipping Program. They are a bunch of fucking grubs!