Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Hazardous materials
rules inhibit beauty
product shipping

Question: This may seem trivial, but I do hope you can help me because I am not sure whom to check with. Due to my sensitive skin, I've ordered a particular brand of mineral makeup from Home Shopping Network and had no problems with it being shipped in the past. It is basically in loose powder form. However, when I tried to re-order recently, I was told that due to "Hawaii shipping restrictions" they are not allowing this product to be mailed to Hawaii. The customer service agent and I were astonished as the product -- Sheer Cover-- has no alcohol or acetone or anything that we could think would be harmful to be mailed. It didn't include any cleanser or anything liquid in the kit. Why can't it be shipped to Hawaii?

Q: I recently ordered a Nick Chavez-brand hairspray and pump from QVC. But QVC said they couldn't ship it to Hawaii. I said, "Is this QVC's regulation?" and they said no, that "Hawaii will not accept it." I called the state Department of Agriculture and the state Department of Health and no one knew anything about this. Why can't they ship hairspray, especially a pump spray?

Answer: State officials say there is no new or specific Hawaii restriction on the shipment of either the makeup or hairspray.

We called Home Shopping Network, but were told we had to write to customer service to get an answer about the makeup powder. After more than two weeks, we have not yet received a response.

A customer service representative told us that, generally, there are products that can't be shipped by air, including perfumes and aerosol products, because they are combustible and "items have to be shipped by air to Hawaii."

She said she didn't know why makeup powder couldn't be shipped to Hawaii.

However, we e-mailed our question to the marketer of Sheer Cover and received a succinct response from Guthy-Renker Customer Service: "We are able to ship Sheer Cover to Hawaii." (Go to the Web site, www.sheercover.com, or call (800) 506-6281 for information on ordering.)

Regarding the hairspray, there are restrictions on shipping certain products by air, but "that's not a Hawaii rule," it's a general "hazmat" (hazardous materials) regulation, said Lynne Moore, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service in Hawaii.

We contacted QVC and asked for an explanation of the restriction.

A customer service representative told us perishable, potentially hazardous, toxic, or flammable products cannot be flown to Alaska, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Canada, Guam and the Virgin Islands or delivered to a post office box.

We asked whose policy this was and were told "it is the U.S. postal mail policy."

Furthermore, third-party vendor(s) of QVC are not contracted with UPS to ship to Alaska, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Canada, Guam and the Virgin Islands, the QVC representative said.

Meanwhile, Moore explained that certain items are not mailable by air due to "flash point" concerns.

"Without knowing too much about (the hairspray), it is possible that it might have a high alcohol content. It might be mailable only by surface means or, if the flash point is low enough, it could be not mailable at all," she said.

If a product is considered hazardous, then it's not just a postal service or Hawaii regulation, "it's just a hazardous materials question," she said.

She said she couldn't comment on the mineral-based makeup powder, without having more information.

"Except for pharmaceuticals or drugs, we don't usually ban substances from the mail," she said. "In general, if it's cosmetics, it doesn't sound non-mailable."

An official of the Federal Aviation Administration also said he couldn't say why the makeup powder couldn't be sent by air to Hawaii because "we don't have all the facts."

But he said it didn't appear to involve a specific state or federal prohibition.

A "large number of variables" are involved in determining such shipments, he noted, including a manufacturer's materials data safety sheet on a product, how the materials in a product are classified, the internal policies of the shopping network, etc.

A safety sheet would note if a product contained flammable liquid, what its flashpoint is, transportation requirements and restrictions, for example.

911 cell phone calls

Two readers responded to our Aug. 18 column, in which a reader asked if it were possible to get a cell phone just for emergency purposes:

» I would like to give that person who wrote in a spare pre-paid cell phone I was going to donate or trash. They can load talk time into it or just keep it charged up for emergencies. -- Tracy Clinger

We passed Ms. Clinger's offer on to the woman posing the question about using cell phones just for 911 calls.

Clinger also was intrigued about the question and said she did some online research and found the Life Alert site, which offers a cell phone "with just one big red button on it for 911" -- www.lifealert.net/cell911.htm.

She suggested some group might look at getting such phones as a community service project to pass out to people who could use such emergency aids.

» I suggest that people look at some of the larger second-hand stores in town, notably Goodwill or Salvation Army, for used cell phones. I know for certain that the Goodwill located on Beretania Street usually has at least a few in its electronics section. Since most cellular providers encourage their subscribers to "update" their phones every two years or so, I can't imagine that they couldn't scrape up a few used phones to resell at a substantial discount (or give away) to people who only want emergency service. They would be doing a good deed for the greater community. -- Mimi Gans


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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