eBay and the Global Shipping Program.


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!

Postscript, May 2022: When it came time to buy another piece of valve gear from the U.S., the seller very kindly gave me a further insight into the GSP. He said, " I read your writeup on dangers of GSP on eb@y . I've had rare radios and equipment and such confiscated by pitney bowes several times. Turns out all the items they confiscate end up for sale back on eb@y at a higher price. Same pics and writeups and everything. Eb@ay ends up buying the item so as to pay off the seller and buyer gets refunded but the items get put back on for sale in US market only. They takes coins, musical instruments and all kinds of stuff. Hard to keep up with each country's bizarre customs rules."

Fortunately, one can bypass this problem simply by using a forwarding service. The advantage of this is that it also allows purchase of all those "seller ships U.S. only" items. I have used myus.com a few times with good results. They're based in Florida, and once you set up an account, you're provided with an address in FL, to which you have the item sent to. When they receive it, they simply forward to your Australian address. The only cost involved is when they forward it on.
In instances where foreigners are actually blocked from even making a purchase on the U.S. eBay, the way around this is to set up a VPN. I have used express VPN which made me appear to be in San Francisco. This, does however cost, even if you're not using it.