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Ordering Tea direct from China

I am currently ordering tea from a vendor in China (taobao-buying-agent.com), and they say say they need my phone number to deliver my package (I gave them my address, but not my phone number). When I questioned their need for my phone number, this is what they replied:

Because we need it when fill out your address,and when your package reached your local post officethey will call you to pick up your package,so it is needed,hope can get your understanding,thanks!

I don’t think my post office has ever EVER called me; quite honestly, I don’t think they have the staff to call everyone when their package comes in. So I told the vendor that I will know it comes in from the tracking number (I believe it states somewhere they provide a tracking number when it ships), or the post office can e-mail me when it comes in (much easier/simpler than making a phone call).

I don’t want to give out my phone number unless I have to (for privacy reasons, and because I don’t want it to be sold to some marketing company). I don’t think I gave Jing Tea Shop my phone number when I ordered from them last year (they ship direct from China), but I can’t be for sure. I’m almost positive the post office didn’t call me when their package came. When it did come in, and when the post office delivered it (without calling me), I was not home, so they took it back to the post office, and left a note on my door about getting it (I was somewhat surprised, as they normally simply leave it). And then instead of opting to have them re-deliver it, I went in to pick it up.

Just speculating, is there some US government regulation or something that requires the customer’s phone number when shipping from outside the US?

Thanks for any input!

UPDATE: I just checked my account information that they have on file at Jing Tea Shop’s website, and I did give them my phone number. It looks like it’s required on that webpage, as there is a company field which notes that it is (Optional), so the rest must be required. The question is, will they, or can they, ship without it?

13 Replies

I think they will use EMS, which requires a phone number in case the postman can’t find your address. My phone number was used once when the courier was lost in our apartment complex. But if your address is easy to locate, the phone number is useless, but they still require it from the Chinese side. When I help people buy directly from China (I dropped that part of the business a few months ago), if the US address is confirmed to be an easy one, I would just give the mailing agent my own phone number, so that the buyer doesn’t have to release theirs. You may consider giving them your office number, or, if you have one, the google internet phone number. Most likely it won’t be used anyway.

Thank you Gingko, that helps a lot, as THAT makes sense to me (sometimes, all I need as a reason that, at least, sounds valid).

I don’t have an office number where I can be reached (I am considering giving them a local business number that I am at sometimes, simply to satisfy the requirement).

What is a google internet phone number? I would consider doing it if I knew what it was and how to get one!

Go to voice.google.com and set up an account. It’s easy if you already have a google account. Basically, you get a phone number that you use over the Internet. You get you voicemail and texts saved online and you can even use it to call but I haven’t done that. I have a google voice number so I don’t have to pay texting fees. :)

Awesome, thank you Gingko and Mercuryhime! I just signed up and gave them that number (It was really easy and free!). This can be useful for other situations too (when I don’t want to give out my home phone #). Thanks!

Yeah it’s quite nice! I should use it for more functions! It’s a good way to save on cell phone bill!

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Cheryl said

Teavivre is the only place in China that I’ve ordered from. They didn’t ask for phone number.

I notice they ship UPS, FedEx or DHL (not USPS) … I have had to provide phone number a few times (within states), but I don’t remember for which carrier or why (it’s been a while).

ETA: Or what Gingko said : )

Thanks Cheryl! It’s good to know at least that Teavivre didn’t require one.

Cheryl said

They ship via USPS.

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Angrboda said

I never give my phone number either. If phone number is a required field somewhere, I generally just put a lot of zeros or something. Make one up. (Sometimes they have a system that can tell that a row of zeros probably aren’t legit, so I have to get a little creative)

Only once have I had to do it and that was when ordering from Le Palais des Thes. They emailed me directly asking for and explained that it was required in case of any additional handling in tax and customs, so presumably it was so that tax and customs could ring me directly.

I wasn’t until afterwards that I realised that there wouldn’t BE any tax and customs business at all since I had bought it from within the EU and therefore all relevant fees would already have been paid, but I can understand why they might do it for countries outside the EU where this would be an issue.

But I don’t think tax and customs generally communicate with the public by telephone anyway, really.

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I know that when I ship internationally, the post office requires phone numbers from me, both my phone number and the phone number of the recipient, although I don’t usually have their number so I use mine instead. They’ve never questioned me on it. But I do know that the USPS requires a phone number in place for the shipper as well as the recipient.

Dinosara said

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever filled out a phone number on a customs form (or any other form) on a USPS package before. Was this commercial for your tea business, or for personal packages as well?

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It was for both… I use Stamps.com though, and maybe because they go by the book that they require that I put a phone number in there. Another unrelated requirement: a name, instead of my business name is required when I ship to Canada.

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Thank you all for that additional input.

I created a google internet phone number, gave that to them, and that satisfied them. I plan to use that number in the future on forms, etc. (as some of you have mentioned) that require a phone number so as to safeguard my actual home phone #.

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