Archive for February, 2008

Made in USA Forever.com’s Shipping Fees

February 28th, 2008

A few customers or www.MadeinUSAForever.com have asked me recently about shipping costs and sales tax, so I will use this opportunity to address it.

Presently we almost always use UPS, though I am investigating other alternatives. The advantages with UPS  include the ability to constantly track packages in an easy for customers, plus UPS pretty much ships anywhere in the country within 2 to 5 days. That lets me compete with Amazon, etc. on delivery time, often significantly beating our larger competitor’s turnaround time.

The main issue is cost, particularly to residential and rural areas. The website is presently setup to pass along most of the actual UPS cost. We do not make a profit on shipping, and actually end up subsidizing it a lot of the time. Therefore, here are some tips that would save you money on shipping:

-If you can, have the package shipped to your office rather than a residence, as UPS adds on a $2 fee for home delivery.

-Instead of several small orders over a few months, consider occasional bigger orders. Most of the UPS fee is in the first pound, and has nothing to do with the dollar value. Therefore, adding another shirt to one order rather than waiting to do another order next month would save quite a bit on shipping – for example the first package goes from $7 to a total of  $8 (i.e. $1 more shipping for the weight of the extra shirt), whereas the two separate shipments would have been $7 each or $14 total. Some of the bigger orders have shipping fees that are less than local sales tax.

My question to you is, would you prefer an option that is cheaper, but perhaps takes longer and without live package tracking?

On sales tax, we only charge sales tax to shipments within California. Therefore, there is no sale tax on shipments to anywhere else in the nation.

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Drug Import Safety Scandal

February 28th, 2008

More concerns over the imported active ingredient in Baxtor’s Heparin drug thinner have come up recently. Several deaths are potentially linked to impurities in ingredients coming from Chinese subcontractors. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Chinese government yesterday indicated “safeguarding the legality, quality, and safety of active drug ingredients lies with the importing nation”.  Apparently meant to shift the blame for improper production to the buyer no matter what the local product safety conditions are like. Buyer beware with lives at stake?  I am quite certain they would have a different opinion if the problems were coming from America to China, but naturally that is hardly likely to happen.

Folks should check with their doctor if they are concerned about this medication.

Baxtor does own a Chinese supplier of this ingredient, but the production of the key active ingredient is farmed out to many subcontractors, who extract it from pig’s intestines. The FDA had not visited Baxtor’s Chinese site, and frankly would have been hard pressed to see more than a few subcontractors. Baxtor at least shares the blame as they must more closely control every medication ingredient’s source.  The low ingredient price in itself should have been a warning to them.

Clearly U.S. companies sourcing from China, etc. should be very careful, as the reality is a lot of the heavy work is done by small subcontractors with little regard for product safety standards. This is true of not just medications and food, but also of products with dyes or other chemicals in products like toys or clothing.

The truth is we are only seeing these stories when chemicals or impurities show up immediately because people get sick or die. Those chemicals that take years to have an effect, like cause cancer, are hardly being checked. The best thing to do is buy from nations that are known to follow basic product safety standards. Everything at www.MadeinUSAForever.com is made in the U.S.A.

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New American Made Products Abound

February 21st, 2008

Those of you who check www.MadeinUSAForever.com occasionally have probably noticed that a lot of new items have been added recently. Cool men’s shirts from D’Accord, really cute baby bibs from Lilypad and Bumpkins, truly American kids and women’s jeans by Texas Jean, neat men’s and women’s casual and sport performance socks by TEIL, amazing custom made doll house furniture by Victorian Woodshop, beautiful household wood items also by Victorian Woodshop, handcrafted and painted ceramic dog bowls by Melia. All in the past couple of weeks!

These items are made by Americans all over the country – North Carolina, Arizona, Florida, California, Minnesota, and Georgia just among those mentioned above! Who says we don’t make it anymore?

The big chain stores do not want us to think about it, but we do have a choice. We can buy American made at a fair price.

Look for dozens of additional products to be added in the coming weeks – organic baby clothing, boys stuff, more toys, and a lot more!

Always Made in the USA at www.MadeinUSAForever.com.

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Imported Food Poisoning Issue

February 13th, 2008

It has not made the news much in the USA, but there has been a major food poisoning issue in Japan of food imported from China. Over 1000 people are known to have been recently made ill, and some are in the hospital seriously stricken. Thank goodness no one has died yet, though children as young as five are among those seriously stricken. Authorities finally figured out what was occurring when a family of four all became quite ill. It is not known how many others might have become sick eating a lesser amount and assumed it was a flu. Long term effects of the chemical exposure have not been identified.

The food product in this case is gyoza, a dumpling made with meat, fish, and/or vegetables.

Foul play has not been ruled out, and indeed some of the food packaging appeared to have been pierced.

Given the large amount of food America imports, it is worth checking the labels, as only a tiny fraction of incoming food products are actually checked for chemical impurities or bacteria. Food, whether one chooses regular or organic, should be grown and processed in countries that strictly adhere to safety standards.

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Poison Pet Food Charges

February 8th, 2008

This week charges were brought against three companies for importing the poisons ingredients that ended up in many pet food products, killing many animals cherished by their families.

The ingredients were from China. Of the three companies indicted so far, two are in China and one America. The one in America is owned by a Chinese national.

The only reason these contaminants were noticed was that it had a rapid effect on the poor animals, in many cases causing painful kidney failure. As with the toys, what is not understood widely yet is that many chemical impurities have a much longer term effect. It may take years after exposure to cause cancer.

We see the effect of lead in the toys and poison in the pet food relatively rapidly and are somewhat able to react, but who is testing imported items for chemical agents that cause issues years down the road? For instance the dye in clothing? At this point, the government should broadly, but is actually testing almost none.

Of the eighty toy recalls last year, none were manufactured in America, because companies that manufacture here follow certain safety standards that are ignored in some countries. At www.MadeinUSAForever.com, all products are made in the USA. It is the only way to be sure.

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Are Diehard Batteries Still American? If so, Why Not Say it on The Label?

February 6th, 2008

I received an e-mail recently from someone who had just bought a Diehard Battery from Sears. He said that he could not find on the label whether it was made in the USA, though the Salesman claimed it was. He wondered if I knew. That got me curious so, I checked their site. There is a lot of information, but nothing about where they are made.

The first question is whether they are still made here, which is not clear. The second question is why Sears (owner of the Diehard brand) is not visibly putting country of origin, like they are supposed to? If they are still made here, that is a good marketing point, not to mention the law. Why hide it?

This is not some small company. Sears, albeit smaller in recent years, is still huge.

If something does not show country of origin clearly on the label, in my opinion we need to assume the worst.

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Unfair Trade Lowers USA Wages

February 1st, 2008

Does trade with countries that lack enforced standards for a minimum wage, worker safety, or the environment lower U.S. wages? Absolutely.

Some would argue, and for a long while I believed, that free trade is a good thing pretty much no matter what the other country is doing. However, while I lived in Asia for work, I constantly saw the results of this tireless search for the lowest economic denominator. Where standards are weak it is much more about exploitation then true development.

The net result is that product cost is artificially lower than any country with standards can compete with, while often not even causing development in the low-cost country.  That means job loss in the developed country with no real gain in the other.

That pressure in turn means fewer well paying jobs in the developed country. With more folks looking for work, it means downward pressure for real wages across the board.

This does not apply to only physical labor, as outsourcing of many white collar jobs is the trend. Even jobs like engineering.

Only in buying products from countries that you know are meeting standards for wages, safety, and pollution control can we be sure. Everything at www.MadeinUSAForever.com is made in the USA.

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