Also, an inevitable question when going through security checkpoints in some countries is "did you pack your own luggage". I assume that if you answer "no", you'd be subjected to a very thorough search for bombs or contraband.
Calling a company "Airmule" seems to be a particularly bad choice, since the term "mule" is commonly used to denote a person who carries smuggled drugs (sometimes concealed inside their body).
No kidding. One has to wonder how the founders can't be aware of that. Perhaps it was intended as a tongue-in-cheek name?
I'm still hoping they're not actually in operation and this is just a PR stunt to promote their actual business of selling Chinese Visa arrangement services (also on the website), but I'm not holding out too much hope.
Turns out the security officer was just a Regular Person, claimed deodorant cans are his "bread and bitter" and had a little chuckle as he found it in my toiletries bag.
I initially read madeofpalk's comment (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14940680) as it seems that you might have, so that it seemed to say that the supposed security agent was not actually a security agent; but a second reading suggests that the meaning is instead that, in addition to being a security agent, the person in question was a Regular Person, and had a sense of humour.
Repeated readings still do not reveal whether an Australian security agent referring to something as his "bread and bitter" is a typo or intentional. :-)
It's derived from the continental "existentialist breakfast" of a black coffee, cigarette, and Aspirin–but had to be adapted due to the bad availability of commercial products in the past, as well as the higher activity levels the Australian bush requires and the resulting danger of a breakfast completely devoid of calories.
But the joke is most definitely not "on you". As in: It wasn't meant to expose anybody's shocking lack of knowledge of arcane Australian trivia.
On the risks, I wonder if making the person carrying an extra bag the temporary owner of it (and showing him the packing of the luggage) so he can always say no would help making it safer for the user. But I personally would never do this even in this setup.
As screwed up as drug laws are in the US, they are child's play compared to what some countries have. And once they think that you might be trafficking, you are in for a bad day.
Yeah, but that's actually probably not the biggest problem here. A thorough search for bombs is just that - a thorough search. Some people are selected randomly for this kind of search. Unless you're actually carrying a bomb (and that is one thing this company does say it protects against), then you shouldn't have to worry about this.
(Although all the other things said against them seem exactly right to me, so I'm not in any way endorsing them.)
Wait, what? There's no screening or security on domestic arrivals in Australia. There's no customs. There's no signage warning about this. This is the first I've ever heard of this and I have trouble believing this.
Driving or flying to or from WA, you will see inspectors and dogs.
Now that I think about it, that dog might not be there entirely for fruit. There was a bit of a spate of people bringing ice (meth-amphetamine) in through checked baggage a couple years ago. Who does that?
This made my paranoid checking of whether my chosen brand of fruit-oil containing shower gel would be permitted kind of redundant.
For somewhere there's not supposed to be fruit fly, we sure saw a lot of fruit flies.
Yup, was about to mention this. I did Sydney to Perth a couple of weeks ago & Qantas made that announcement close to landing. In particular, they mention not to bring honey into Western Australia, and to talk to a flight attendant if you were carrying honey.
I do remember seeing signage (somewhere) in Perth on arrival, but I don't remember seeing any disposal bins.
There's actually signs somewhere north of BNE telling truckies that they can't take bananas past that point, for example.
I've also been sniffed by a Dept. of Agriculture beagle coming back from Puerto Rico.
Don't travel with fruit in Australia, its the height of selfishness.
FWIW, California also has agricultural quarantine measures, they're just much more half-assed.
Australia is also a very large island, and the biodiversity of the east coast is very different to that of the west coast, so the same concerns apply. If you drive along the highways between states you'll see signs telling you to dispose of your fruit.
It kinda makes sense. We're so isolated geographically, when something happens in other parts of the world, we have a very good chance of protecting ourselves.
I believe Australia actually has the oldest vineyards in the world. Something took out the vineyards everywhere else in the world.
This looks like this "amazing startup idea" is directly taken from a Narcos (netflix) marathon with lots of beers and a few friends.
That kind of venture was doomed from the start.
There is no way your company name should be this tongue in cheek about something that can be as serious as international drug smuggling.
At worst they should've got the domain name and made it a marketing landing page for their actual company. Not use Airmule as their actual company name.
AirMule is performing an arbitrage since the price difference is making them a profit but the airlines can't be happy about it whether or not the practice has been quietly going along for decades.
http://courierlist.com/ -- which has an announcement from 2005 saying the discounts aren't worth it any more!
As the article says, it doesn't work like that in countries like China (and I suppose it doesn't work like that in many other countries). You're 100% responsible for the package you're carrying unless this happens:
> One of those exceptions is to be the authorized representative of a “common carrier.” These are companies like FedEx, UPS, or DHL, or the airlines themselves
So, as the article says, if someone decides to fill your bag with heroin up to the top Airmule will have nothing to do with it, the death-sentence will be all yours.
It doesn't work also in countries like USA. (I think we agree.)
And it doesn't work in other countries where the security is not so tough like Argentina. [Hi from Argentina!]
It's not exactly the same case, but ... from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/magazine/the-professor-the...
> [...] but when he arrived at the airline counter, he was greeted by several policemen. Asked to identify his luggage — “That’s my bag,” he said, “the other one’s not my bag, but I checked it in” [...]
The question that needs to be asked is "Is Airmule one of these companies, and are Airmule couriers authorized representatives of Airmule?".
The distinction is not that Airmule is a company that provides services in the manner of a common carrier. It's whether they're recognized as such by the government. This is probably done by filing papers in the US and in China. Then they could answer "We are a common carrier, license number XYZ. Users sign form ABC to become an official Airmail representative."
A slightly less important but still relevant question is whether operating a courier service using an airline which itself offers the same service is a violation of the airline's TOS.
In the same fashion they will shrug, say, we don't care, and throw you in jail or take your life away.
For those who didn't study Latin or law :p
You still have to get visas, accommodation and such. This business is targeting the young and stupid not the poor and uneducated.
It's a very good principle for dangerous professions, bets, stun artists, boxers, etc. but not for average people as these crazy "free market" people try to apply it.
Jail time in China is not a reasonable risk to be expected from being a client of a legally operating company selling cheap tickets where your luggage space is "rented out".
"Please note that, as stated above, the site, application and services are intended to be used to facilitate travelers and senders connecting and arranging item transportation directly with each other. Airmule cannot and does not control the content contained in any package and the condition, legality or suitability of any items and luggage. Airmule strongly advises each traveler to inspect each item carefully. If a traveler does suspects an item is illicit, do not transport and contact airmule. Airmule is not responsible for and disclaims any and all liability related to any and all available transportation. Accordingly, any inquiries will be made or accepted at the member’s own risk."
I don't know how long that has been there, but it is clear. They are brokers, but don't accept any liability.
But in their FAQs, they have this:
"Can I inspect the shipments?"
"All travelers have the right to inspect their shipment(s) prior to boarding. However, please note that Airmule manually inspects and verifies each item for safety before traveler handoff."
It sucks that companies can say one thing in the ToS and that overrides the more prominant FAQ.
> PLEASE NOTE THAT, AS STATED ABOVE, THE SITE, APPLICATION AND SERVICES ARE INTENDED TO BE USED TO FACILITATE COURIERS PROVIDING SHIPPING SERVICES TO SENDERS. AIRMULE SCREENS AND CERTIFIES ALL THE CONTENTS CONTAINED IN PACKAGES AND THE CONDITION, LEGALITY OR SUITABILITY OF ALL ITEMS AND LUGGAGE. AIRMULE SHALL PROVIDE TO COURIER A MANIFEST INCLUDING PHOTOS, DESCRIPTIONS AND VALUES OF ALL SHIPMENTS. COURIERS ARE WELCOME TO INSPECT ALL SHIPMENTS PRIOR TO TRAVEL. COURIER IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE CONTENTS OF ALL THE ITEMS CONTAINED ON THE MANIFEST.
AIRMULE ONLY CONTRACTS WITH TSA CERTIFIED & KNOWN SHIPPERS.
(Caps in original.)
Caveat emptor. Just those responses are a red flag, if the subject is legal risk surrounding smuggling to PRC. They don't want you to know.
The hell with that, the company should be shut down. Some poor soul will think it's a sweet deal. They're putting people at risk of the death penalty without telling them and implying everyone is A-OK.
The ethical thing to say, in big, bold writing, is "we check as thoroughly as possible, but we can't be absolutely certain there's nothing illegal in the bag, and you're responsible to the authorities - to the extent of a potential death sentence - if that happens". In fact, this is hidden away all the way at the bottom of the terms and conditions! Of course, if they did that then they wouldn't have any customers.
You can be ethical in the presence of other unethical actors - that the Government may or may not be unethical does not change whether your activities are ethical.
Or not bottom but slightly above the bottom, since people may skim through and read first and last part only as a matter of verification.
> Exactly how is intentionally lying to your customers to the point that you can get them killed ethical?
I suppose its a survival of the fittest, to get rid of those humans ignorant or poor enough to deal with this.
Would it pass the Darwin Awards though?
And don't make the mistake that this business practice goes right for an X amount of times. A scammer on eBay can have hundreds of positive feedback before his exit strategy.
As for the "These guys totally have you covered." in the original article, I wouldn't want to do business with someone who's manner of first impression is to advertises themselves as a hardcore gamer, a dancer (with that stale face), and a beer drinker. Doesn't give me confidence at all!
So journalists conduct their interviews in 140-character messages nowadays? I can't help but agree with the co-founder that hit-pieces should be based on actual interviews, not a Twitter conversation, ff we're going to consider this as journalism of course. If it's just amateurish blogging then I guess that would pass.
Anything longer than that, or running in circle refusing a clear answer, should be interpreted as "no" by the users, which is what the article says.
He's the average victim who would fall for a $99 fare. He certainly can't believe the risk would be that high, hence he's upset with "a hit piece"; He probably just read a bit on the internet about what it means to be OBC. He may not even have a lawyer and it could be a side project. They describe themselves as average bros, probably not because they've thought it through for marketing reasons, but just because that's their identity. Simple guys organizing something cool, patching a genius opportunity that no-one has taken before, and targeted ad hominem by a blogger. He just can't understand it any other way.
Not every question that can conceivably return a bool answer should be answered that way in PR.
that's an unfair comparison, because this is a loaded question (implying you were beating your SO). The question being asked in the blogpost is asking for clarification, with no assumption behind it.
Maybe that is the actually the case (I'm not an expert in the field), but the underlying assumption of that being a hard requirement is present. Now, if Airmule thinks that they don't need to do exactly that but have another means by which the couriers could be protected, they can't reasonably answer "yes" (because they aren't organized that way) nor "no" (because that's a misleading answer from their point of view).
"Not a common carrier - this page on our website describes exactly what protections are provided: <link>"
He never told them he was writing a piece and gave them a chance to read it or comment, AFAICT.
Consumer Review doesn't have to disclose the fact that they will review a car when they buy it from a dealership, but they probably should ask GM to comment when they say "it seems to us, without having driven one or heard from anyone who has driven one, that GM are making their cars so they explode on impact".
Do they have to disclose that they are Consumer Review when they talk to GM?
The Twtitter profile for user @TPrphet states that he is a blogger for a site called Seat31B.
Also the blogger may not have had any intention of writing a blog post prior to the exchange.
That being said, I always reserve the right to blog about anything I think is interesting or important to my readers, and this subject meets the bar given the seriousness of the potential consequences here. "Move fast and break things" is something you can do in a social app but lives are potentially at stake here.
It's also fair for me to move quickly. Airmule is out in public advertising $99 flights to Beijing right now. Why should I have to wait until Rory is back in the office on Monday to write about it?
It's fairly normal to write blog posts without interviewing anyone. If the facts are clear, why spend the time? There isn't a law that says that I have to schedule an interview with an airline before I blog about their economy class cabin, and there isn't a law that says I have to schedule an interview with a startup founder around his backyard tile laying project and Costco shopping trip.
Note that my readers are largely young backpackers - think the /r/shoestring and /r/solotravel crowd. I would have written an entirely different blog post--and one that the founder would have been completely happy with--if the answers had been different. It's unfortunate that they weren't.
It's probably "err, yes, you might get the death penalty", but I don't know that, because nobody from the company was reached for comment.
If the founders were doing the right thing here, they probably wouldn't have felt the need to dodge all my questions. I'd have gotten clear answers with evidence to back them up. Normal companies do this.
Also, if Airmule wanted an interview, they could have replied asking for a phone call and giving me their phone number.
For folks who claim I didn't clearly represent myself: My Twitter handle identifies me as a Seat 31B blogger, I emailed them from my seat31b.com address, and I publicly stated on Twitter that I was planning to blog about this. I don't know how it could possibly be any more clear. Yes, like many people in the startup community I do more than one thing (I am also involved with multiple startups) but given that these very different lines of business (a dating app and an information security consulting firm) I don't think there could be any reasonable confusion.
None of this actually happened, so I think it's pretty clear what's going on here.
and while i'm ranting. what is with founders presenting them selves as "bro's at the bar"?
If the founders had bios that looked like they were from upper management at ibm i might be more likely to use their service.
This sounds like the basis for the entire "sharing economy".
(although I have seen different places with 'about us' pages that look like a frat.)
Kind of similar to how Nestle has brands that appeal to different groups instead of calling everything Nestle.
Rightfully so, too. The blogger clearly chose his very unfriendly angle. Of the few actual quotes from the company are statements such as on-board couriers being an established industry, both FedEx and UPS being in that industry and all shipments complying with customs. If the blogger was genuinely interested in informing his readers, diving into those statements would be interesting, but he seems to reject them out of hand, preferring instead to pursue a "gotcha" question about common carrier status.
They are using as "couriers" mostly completely uninformed laypersons, which can't be expected to know what ocs is, ffs!
You misunderstood that one.
You cannot answer yes to that question since it implies you were beating your wife in the past.
You cannot answer no to the question since it implies you are still beating your wife nowadays.
Hence the question requires an in depth answer. Another poster above wrote as example reply: "I have never beaten my significant other". That's a clear answer, and if you said that under oath and its found out you lied, you got one more issue on your plate. And that's the goal of the question: it forces the other party to increase accountability.
Because the question provokes (or 'requires') an in depth answer like the example provided it is a good question in interrogation techniques, but also a good question to ask from the hands or mouth of a journalist (or interviewer). Which a blogger arguably is.
If anything, if you read through the article, the blogger is actually quite friendly and sympathetic about the startup. It just turned sour after the vague, dodging responses. When you get such vague, dodging responses you are at the very least dealing with amateurs, and at worst with people who know very well what they're up to.
I doubt your anger is out of bounds. We are talking about potential - likely, even - smuggling of illegal goods into a country that has a human rights record that is... less than stellar. And their co-founder is childish and speaks in twisted words to try and avoid the truth.
I'd say your anger is very well-placed.
> "We have found contraband in [courier] shipments," says U.S. Customs official Bob Fischler, "but percentage-wise it is infinitisemal. And in any seizure we made, it was obvious that the on-board courier had nothing to do with it." In fact, at New York' JFK and at London's Heathrow airport, because of the sheer volume of courier shipments, all courier pouches go to a central location for clearance. The courier is typically dismissed before customs physically inspects the shipments.
- From Air Courier Bargains by Kelly Monaghan.
"Besides, Airmule talked to some professionals — people who are in jail for actually being drug mules or other drug-trafficking crimes. And they all said they’d never use a system like Airmule, Yang (CEO) says. "
See. It's perfectly safe (｢･ω･)｢
Quite likely. The traveler is evading duty and subverting the rules.
I understand that family is important, but isn't a situation like this so important that you - at least - replace some time next week by 2hours now to answer to this article?!
Edit: made me think about this xkcd https://xkcd.com/386/
I never got up the courage to try it myself, but friends did. My girlfriend did it once.
Looking back, I realize how exceedingly stupid this was. Had there been heroin inside that camera, you were going to prison for the rest of your life. They didn't (and still don't) screw around.
I heard all sorts of stories. An Australian backpacker was caught at Korean customs with 50 Rolex watches stuffed in his shirt. He was sent up for ten years. Numerous young Americans and Europeans busted for drug smuggling were rotting in prison in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. At the time, with these countries technically allied with us against Red China, execution was not a politically feasible alternative.
This Mule thing is just another respin of an old practice. Best to avoid.
This takes things to a whole new level - you could get people to smuggle anything for next to nothing, if you packed in something else. Or, get them to blow up a plane they're on.
Key difference is:
You buy the products locals ordered (locals pay for item + delivery fee upfront into escrow) so there's no risk of a third party hiding drugs or illegal materials.
Kinder eggs are an example of an item that is perfectly fine in, say, Canada, but carries a heavy fine for import into the US.
The US needs to renegotiate postal rates with China. China is still getting the "developing country" discount from the USPS.
I thought imports from China was cheap because it was subsidized by the PRC?
... and was actually posted here not too long ago!
There's a good summary here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9794971
Think it was this that I saw (on HN, and as posted above): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14651884
This guy clearly doesn't get it. Your startup page is where you post a phip relatable quirky attribute, whereas your actual qualifications go in single-phrase sentences on your twitter bio and after your name on quora answers
/s, hopefully obviously
With baby formula, i'd just return the bag and apologize, eating the $99. Heroin on the other hand, i could probably move at a steep discount. $1k or so, not worth the risk. $10 or $20k? hmm. The bag needs to be worth at least $1000 in the target country, just to break even.
it seems like pretending to be a stoner, and setting up enough to buy a plane ticket could get you a lot of money for $99. Fake id and a prepaid credit card aren't that hard to come by. It's not like the ID needs to pass TSA inspection, as you're not taking the flight.
Seems like a very risky business. If your customers are willing to be pasties, it'll be ok. but just a couple of sharks completely change the risk profile. Doing stuff that precludes government enforcement of contracts is just crazy crazy risky.
There are borders where you can carry through alcohol, petrol and tobacco for personal use but people who make a living off of it are breaking the law.
Of course in the first world all you get is a fine and get your contraband confiscated which just sets you back a month or two, but risking that in China..?
And I wonder what TSA thinks about people transporting things that they have little idea about in their luggage?
The article is lengthy and kind of make this question vague. In my understanding it is a single question: Who bares the responsibility?
Well, it is you the poor traveller. There is no way in hell you can accept such a deal even if you are flying for Free. In fact, if you are, ask yourself the question: Do free meals really exist?
First: I can only imagine, when checking my bags, getting the question, "Did anyone give you anything to bring on the flight?" and answering, "Yes, my entire 2nd bag belongs to someone else who is paying for half of my ticket."
That alone would be enough to give you extra-special scrutiny when checking in.
But let's assume that you get through security, go on your flight, and arrive. I've traveled to China many times, and have thus put my bag through the customs/airport scanner many times. If they find anything illegal -- and in China, that can mean all sorts of stuff -- you are in Big Trouble. I haven't ever seen anyone pulled aside when going through customs in China, but I don't envy them.
And sure, Airmule can say that they've inspected things, and that this is safe and fun, etc. Just try telling the Chinese customs officials that the drugs don't belong to you, but rather to a startup in Silicon Valley. I'm sure they'll be very attentive.
Airmule's site attempts to calm potential couriers' nerves by saying, "Read this Wikitravel article." (Reference: http://wikitravel.org/en/Air_courier) However, the article says, very clearly:
> You need to be very careful about the legitimacy of the jobs you take. The last thing you want is to be caught
> transporting contraband (or worse) on a plane. A good way to avoid this is to use an agent (usually a
> representative of the service you are working for), who will take you through customs and clear the contents.
> Always check the reputation of the courier company before booking. None which are reliable and legitimate
> would ever try to ship anything illegal.
Airmule doesn't promise to have an agent on the arrival side. They do promise that they'll "walk you through" things, but that's very different from physically being there in China and claiming the luggage and any responsibility for it.
The idea is a good one in theory, but as executed, it's half baked -- and might lead to executions of a more literal sort, if people aren't careful.
"We don't just ship any item that comes through our front door. Airmule only partners with TSA certified shipping companies.
"Under their Certified Cargo Screening Program, the TSA certifies cargo screening facilities throughout the United States to screen cargo prior to providing it to airlines for shipment on passenger flights." 
The TSA however does not search for drugs however from the TSA's site:
"TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs."
I would love to be able to do so for $99 if someone wants to on-sell my checked allowance.
After reading the article I see the pitfalls I had never thought of, and would obviously want some extremely, extremely clear legalities to make it very clear the bags are not mine, and I'm not bringing them into any country.
No, I did not pack them and, no, I am not bringing them into your country.
If these folks are providing packages to travelers to be checked directly by the traveler then they're idiots and so is anyone who takes them up on the offer. If not for the defensive tweets, etc. I'd feel that (as someone else noted) this must be a satire of the 'gig' economy.
You can easily subsidize a flight ticket with a checked luggage full of baby formula and for extra security the mule can go buy the formula him or herself.
Airmule then manually inspects and verifies each item prior to packaging for a traveler. We also guarantee that 100% of the items shipped through our service are safe for travel on commercial aviation.
This is classic lawyer speech (notice the words "safe for travel on commercial aviation"). This just means that there are no harmful things to a plane, but they don't say anything about 'safe for customs'.
(I for one wouldn't be surprised if they end up successful until a client of theirs actually ends up in trouble serious enough that TV news outlets raise public awareness.)
It's a startup, not old slow mega-corporation where making a joke will get you fired.
Would you trust a surgeon with a bio that describes how thouroghly he can consume beer?
International air courier work isn’t the place to be trusting zany, hip dudes. It’s not the place for making jokes, that’s for sure.
"You’ll find me sitting in the middle seat, all the way in the back,
next to the toilets, but smiling the whole way because that seat was
ridiciculously cheap or even free!"
Is Airmule legal?
On Board Couriers (OBC) have existed over decades. Their purpose is to service cargo that needs to be delivered in a timely manner. It’s quite an expensive service, often servicing auto parts, airplane parts, important documents, passports, NASA parts, etc. Costs can vary from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. To become an OBC is simple, just call any OBC company and register on their list. In our case, we simply request you to list your trip. The OBC companies size doesn’t have to be the same as Fedex, UPS or any airline cargo department. As long as they follow the TSA’s IAC regulation, only ship items from a “Known Shipper,” and have the cargo secured in a locked area inaccessible by outsiders. At Airmule, we have a surveillance camera over cargo 24/7. (49 CFR 1544.228, 1546.213, 1548.15, 1548.16, and 1548.7.)
So yes, OBC’s are totally legal, as well as all OBC companies. I see many ask the answer to “Did you pack everything yourself” question. The answer is to be honest with Airline company “No, I didn’t. I’m an OBC and I have the manifest, and I know what’s inside my luggage”.
Every single traveler will receive a manifest prior to receiving Airmule shipments Airmule is 100% responsible for the items on the list.There are items we don’t accept if they don’t comply with our policy or the destination country customs policy:
1. Powdery items.
2. Pills, medicine, prescriptions
3. Unclear liquids (wine, etc.)
4. Live plants
5. Animal products (elephant teeth, fur items, etc.)
6. Counterfeit items
If the Shipment is for commercial purposes, we will declare through the proper channel. We contract with a professional customs brokerage company for every single country we service. In that case, couriers simple leave the item at customs, a receipt will be issued by Customs, and Airmule will handle it onsite, couriers will be relieved from duty at that point. Airmule is not “Smuggling”. We do pay duty on behalf of shippers. Our shipping policy is very restrictive with Senders responsible for all duty fees.
For those who “likes” the name, we can’t do anything about it. Regardless of what we are called; it sounds like you don’t want to work with us. We just hope one day, when you need something urgently, that Airmule is a better and more affordable option to help with delivery, and saves your day.
Airmule has been running for almost 2 years, we’ve helped thousands of travelers to see the world they never were able to see before. The deal we post is 100% authentic, but a very limited offer. In appreciation of your time to read this, we’d like to give a bonus for $100 if you use coupon “ISupportAirmule” when list your trip. If you still have concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Makes you confident about Airmule?
There isn’t much need for anything beyond 3 characters:
“Yes” or “No”
If you asked FedEx that question, there isn’t a legal department response needed. It’s a simple “Yes.”
Also, that question – the public has a right to a clear answer.
“Do your cars have seatbelts?”
“Does your food contain salt?”
These are examples of questions that don’t have gray areas worthy of “legalese.”
If legalese is required that means the expected answer isn’t the same as the actual answer.
Definitely not a clear question. What if it only ha seatbelts in front but not back? What if they comply with EU regulations but not California regulations, or vice versa?
> “Does your food contain salt?”
Even less clear. Do you know about California prop 65? It is a fail of epic proportions, because "contain" may mean "has enough to cause an effect on an average human", "has enough to cause an effect on a human with extremely rare condition that makes him sensitive to salt orders of magnitude higher than a regular human" or "has enough to be detectable by the most sensitive detector created by modern science". That's even without getting into the weeds about how common table salt is not just sodium chloride, and sodium chloride may be present without adding table salt (many organisms have it so if you eat them you eat salt). Not try to pack it into 140 characters in a way that a hostile journalist can't make a scoop out of it. Good luck.
> If legalese is required that means the expected answer isn’t the same as the actual answer.
Oh if it only were so.
I personally have no idea. And after reading the article I still don't. Does the writer know? I couldn't see anything passed the sarcasm that would convince me either way.
I would expect more substance in an article on the front page of Hacker news.
If the answer "Are couriers covered by Common Cartier rules?" were "no", the extension is: "No, totally no, 0%, zero, nada, zip!" [fake quote]
Their answers to "Are couriers covered by Common Cartier rules?" is something like: "They will get a seat in the plane and can use the bathroom." [Also, fake quote.] They are not replaying the question, only stating something unrelated.
These guys had my email address and could have sent a detailed response. Instead, they sent a short (but clear) one. If they actually wanted a phone interview, they could have asked for one and provided a number to call. And it's possible to send more than one tweet if they wanted to respond that way.
They did link to a FAQ which isn't clear, and their Terms of Service is posted on the page as others have noted. This is what raised my eyebrows to begin with and why I started asking questions.
A friend who is a tech reporter said "When they're responding like this, you know you got 'em." Given that Rory has had all morning to dispute any of the facts in my blog post, and has not done so despite being very active on Twitter, it seems clear that my reporter friend is right.
If I was a potential user of the service and I received these responses I doubt I would feel comfortable in accepting the offer.