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  • Element 14 Holding Orders Based On US Government Watch List!

    Posted on February 24th, 2014 EEVblog 154 comments

    UPDATE: The managing director of Element 14 has responded officially in the comments below and has CONFIRMED that it IS a US denied persons list!

    If your name happens to be fairly common like mine, then you may end up having your orders flagged and put on hold by Element 14, at least here in Australia. Because, well, their system sucks arse, and it seems like they are licking the arse of the United States government to boot. Am I pissed? You betcha!

    I placed an order for some innocuous parts from Element 14 in Australia the other day and their system automatically “flagged” my order and put it on hold based on my name being on some US Government watch list!
    Yep, you read that right.
    My delivery address in Element 14’s system has “David Jones” on it, and apparently the US government are watching someone called David Jones, so you know, a parts distributor in Australia has to flag that and put my order on hold. Makes sense huh?


    Here is the story:
    Through the website I ordered some local in-stock parts from the Element 14 warehouse in Sydney, for pickup at the trade counter. Usually they are very efficient and have the parts ready for collection before I have time to drive there. But this day I gave them a few hours extra. When I got there my parts weren’t ready and it took them a bit of time to figure out that my order had been placed “on hold”. I was not informed of this hold by email (FAIL #1).

    Now, I seemed to recall that this wasn’t the first time this has happened, so instead of just saying “no worries” and waiting I enquired as to why exactly it was put on hold, but it didn’t seem all that unusual a scenario. The counter person wasn’t sure, so checked with someone else who came and wasn’t 100% sure, but knew that the system does automatically flag orders based on various identifiers. It could have possibly been one of those stupid US government trade restriction things, because, you know capacitors and opamps can be used by evil terrorists and the like… (International customers have to fill out silly forms with US distributors and manufacturers saying we won’t use the parts in nuclear weapons – seriously)
    But they enquired further with someone else and the word came back that it wasn’t the parts that had been flagged, it was my NAME that was flagged. And they said it was a US government watch list of some description. I was stunned, and it seemed like they didn’t quite understand why I was so shocked at this. Because, you know, the whole world has to just sit by and let the US government dictate everything at will.

    More specifically, and the staff being ever so helpful (seriously, they were great and handled it well), they even knew the exact mechanism in their system, and a “way around it” happening again.
    Here is the screen shot of their order system page in question:
    The Element 14 Order

    They said it was the first field on the delivery address (right side) that gets searched against this unknown US database, and if the name matches anyone on the list, bingo, the system automatically flags and puts the order on hold. No matching of address to ensure that only the naughty people get flagged, nooooo, anyone with the same generic name.
    The “fix” is to move your name to the 2nd line so it doesn’t get flagged, or to simply remove the name from the delivery address, as the system prints your name from the other database field onto the shipping label anyway I was told. They even offered to do this for me, which I declined.
    As it turns out, when I got home and logged in to see and change it myself, it seems that they were wrong. My name wasn’t in the delivery address as shown, it’s auto-added by their system anyway.
    So it seems, unless Element 14 fix this BS, I’m screwed forever. Thanks.
    Unless of course I change my name to Doc Brown, Marty McFly, or Ivan Itchydick (suggestions invited), or I convince Uncle Sam that that 70’s singer who’s real name is David Jones isn’t someone who they should particularly care about. Except for Space Oddity, which is an awesome song.

    Anyway, after all that kerfuffle they instantly cleared my order and I had my parts in 5 minutes, great service. I was also informed that my order would have eventually gotten taken off hold anyway. Indeed, I now recall that several of my previous delivered orders have not turned up the next day as promised, but have been a day or two late, which is very unlike traditional Farnell/Element 14 I’ve come to have relied upon over the decades. I even now recall I tweeted them about my dissatisfaction with these abnormal delays, and a rep even called me to appogise. And you guessed it, I recall them using the “hold” word as an excuse in there somewhere. So this has all been going on for quite some time now it seems.

    So that begs two questions:
    1) What happens when it gets put on hold? Does some spook at some three letter US agency have to spend parts of those billions of wasted Yankee tax dollars to push a button and clear it? I doubt it, so I suspect it’s:
    2) Someone at Element 14 eventually gets around to pushing the clear button at the end of the day, thus making the system completely pointless for it’s intended purpose (as ludicrous as that purpose may be), and just yet another stupid procedure forced upon the world and corporations by the US government.

    And when the company themselves know of and recommend a way around the system, that just takes it all into the stratosphere of pointlessness.

    So lets see if I have this straight – An Australian subsidiary, owned by a UK parent company, listed on the UK stock exchange, has an ordering system that automatically matches generic names against some US Government watch list, and flags those orders and puts them on hold, for parts that are already stocked in Australia, are likely not made in the US, and likely have come from the main UK warehouse. Call me stupid, but something doesn’t seem right with that…

    Seriously, WTF Element 14?
    Please explain.
    And fix your stupid retarded ordering system, and remove this flagging BS.

    You can also discuss this on the Forum HERE

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    • Jason

      Another thing that’s peculiar about this…if this has to do with good manufactured in the U.S. no one should ever get flagged. We don’t make anything here any longer.

    • Erik Burman

      As a blue blooded American, I very much have to agree with Dave. It’s true, our government has truly lost it’s perspective. We are now a country no one respects. This has been coming for decades but our current president has taken it to whole new levels. As much as a pain in the ass that our federal government may be for you, it’s doubly so for those of us who have to put up with it’s obtrusive, obstructive, and stupid policies here in the good ‘ol USA. You are absolutely right. Please, put up a fuss. Be the squeaky wheel. Push back is desperately needed right now. 

      At the risk of sounding a bit insulting I will say this however. The USA is not alone in terms of being excessively controlling, it’s just that we haven’t totally trashed our economy yet so we can throw our weight around a bit more. From my perspective it seems that people of Australia have worked pretty hard to cultivate a nanny-state government over the last several decades. I used to admire the rugged self-reliant Aussie individualist (Or maybe I watched too many Crocodile Dundee movies). I think that we are all devolving into a collective Eurowimp society.

    • http://www.otago.ac.nz TheKeyling

      Farnell BLACKLISTED by Electronics Students at Otago University, New Zealand.

      Sourcing from mainland China.

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    • DigitalNomadJC

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