Normally, when I buy “off-the-shelf” (i.e. not Arduino-specific stuff), I buy from RS or Farnell, or occasionally, even Maplin.
However, I couldn’t source some parts from any UK supplier, so I ordered from Digi-Key. I had enough stuff to qualify for free shipping by adding bits and pieces like resonators etc. and filled in my order, and submitted it.
To my surprise, I then got a list of questions I had to answer before they will accept my order; is it a personal order, what am I going to do with the parts, and similar things.
I feel this is slightly over the top for a couple of controllers, a bunch of resonators, some TSOP adaptors, Homeland Security notwithstanding.
Is this usual for overseas orders for DigiKey? (Since I can buy nearly all the things I ordered locally, along with more dangerous stuff like etchant, I don’t see what the issue is).
I suspect it’s more a way of filtering out/discouraging small hobbyists than a justifiable worry about shipping “munitions” grade technology to terrorists, but then I’m cynical like that,
Hmmm. That’s strange. I can’t say anything about digikey, but mouser didn’t give me any shi*t like that. If they don’t explicitly require you to run a business during account creation (as Farnell does), they should treat you like any other valued customer.
If they don’t seem to want your money, order somewhere else. What happened to “pecunia non olet” ?
Well, yes, I agree, except that I couldn’t source the parts anywhere else
Still, I’m buying enough for “stock” parts, so I won’t need to repeat the experience in a hurry.
Perhaps the fact I once spent a night in a West Berlin police station wrongly suspected of passing technology the other side of the Iron Curtain (someone nicked a van containing our empty boxes!) has something to do with it; maybe I’m on a CIA watch list? ;D
I think when I originally set up an account with Digi-Key in the US, the did ask these questions. I have had an account from them for several years and the only piece if mail I get from them is a several pound catalog once a year. So I doubt this information is being given out to anyone else.
My guess is they use that information anonymously to help figure out who their customers are.
Yes… a LOOOOOONG time ago I think I answered questions like that… once.
While I don’t prefer DIGI-KEY as my first choice for hobbyist parts, I’ve never had problems with an order and they are sometimes the best/only source available.
It’s probably just info for the in-house marketing guys.
Certain unlikely-seeming parts come with automatic “export restrictions” that require that the distributors (and thus their customers) jump through hoops to meet the letter of the law. Notably, things containing any cryptographic technology, but there also used to be a clause about “cpus capable of running over X MHz.”)
Most recently, this came up with some people attempting to order Atmel atXMGEA parts from outside the US. It seems that crypto acceleration technology is one of the built-in features. (There was some discussion on avrfreaks.)
“It’s the law; it doesn’t have to make sense.”
(ask me about internal support engineers of large corporations being unable to get internal access to internal tools that happen to contain crypto code. Sigh.)
Doesn’t make sense at all. Now, they want a fax copy of my passport or other acceptable photo-id before they accept my credit card order, or I pay by wire transfer (and have to pay shipping!).
I have told them what to do with the order. Now I need to find an alternative source after all. Oh well, worse things happen at sea.
Dell ask similar questions (or at least used to). It’s always really tempting to say “yes” when asked if a laptop is going to be used for biological/chemical/nuclear weapons development but I suspect anyone asking that kind of question doesn’t have much of a sense of humour.
Only ever bought from Dell through a limited company, so they didn’t ask any questions apart from “how will you be paying?”