Hi everyone! I realise it's been a little while since I last posted a post office related update, but I have one that I think will be very worth sharing, especially to those of us who are sending items international! No, it isn't a price increase! (Trust me, guys. I'd let you know if that were to happen!)
Counter Procedure update regarding Dangerous Goods:
If you went to the post office to send packets yesterday or today, you may have encountered our new policy being enforced, or seen the posters.
From 14th January 2013 (yesterday!), a new counter procedure is coming into force. When people send small packet-sized items, the post office clerks are now required to ask you the contents. This is because new measures are being brought in to clamp down on dangerous items being sent. It is also in addition to asking for customs forms.
We won't ask you if you are sending postcards, letters or printed papers internationally. That's because they're extremely unlikely to contain anything prohibited. Also, this policy currently only covers items being sent internationally and to the BFPOs, though it will be brought into force for UK packets in July 2013.
The primary reasoning for this is safety. Accidents, fires and explosions have been known to happen from dangerous goods becoming damaged or reacting in the postal system. (One of the examples was a photo of an UPS "Brown Tail" plane on fire, apparently from a laptop battery that burst into flame!)
When we ask you if your packet contains dangerous goods, there are different sorts that we are checking for. Most items that the post office considers "dangerous" are classed as prohibited. The other category is restricted, but it only really applies to one category of item.
Restricted items refers quite specifically to lithium batteries, such as the sort you would find in your laptop, mobile phone or even digital camera. These MAY be sent, but under the condition that they are sent IN the item to which they belong. So for example, a laptop battery may be sent, but it MUST be attached to the laptop. They can't be seperate, even if they're being posted in the same box, otherwise we aren't allowed to take the parcel.
As for prohibited goods, the list is quite long! Most of them are common sense- when I saw the, I couldn't help saying 'but why would you WANT to?' about most of them. I won't post the whole list (unless someone asks), but it basically includes things like aerosols, magnets, nail polish, peroxide, fireworks, compressed gas and car batteries.
So, to cut a long post short- it would likely be appreciated if everyone could co-operate when a postal clerk asks you what's in your packet. We're not trying to be nosy or trying to embarrass you- it's none of our business, really! All we need to know is that you're sending something like a plastic figure, or a soft toy that doesn't take batteries- those things are totally okay!
(Personally, though, I'd totally love it if I were to meet one of you guys selling things in my post office! How cool would that be!)
I hope it's been helpful for you guys to know exactly why you might get a nosy question to answer! If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask!