Congressman Ed Case introduced a bill to end what he called “unfair shipping practices” to the non-contiguous parts of the US, saying Hawaiʻi customers are facing inflated costs.
Rep. Case said Hawai‘i, which is located almost 2,500 miles off the West Coast, depends on shipping more than many other locations in the country. According to Congressman Case, Hawaiʻi imports well over 90% of its necessities, yet people living in Hawai‘i have encountered these “exclusionary” practices.
He called the exclusions “discriminatory” and outlined three practices that he said are unfair:
- “First, when ordering essentials online, we often learn that a particular online store or item doesn’t even ship to Hawai‘i at all. The Federal Trade Commission reviewed this issue and confirmed that ‘some companies . . . are unwilling to ship products to Alaska, Hawai‘i, Puerto Rico, and the other territories’,” said Case. He said this exclusion prevents millions of Americans in the non-contiguous states from obtaining key products that should be available to them the same as any others.
- “Second, as many of my constituents know, those who live in Hawai‘i are often denied free shipping options from online retailers. It is so painful when a website advertises free shipping and you fill up your shopping cart and input your address only for a red error message to pop up with the news that Hawai‘i, Alaska, Guam and elsewhere are not included in the free shipping deal.
- “Third, even when companies do ship to Hawai‘i, the prices bear no reasonable relationship to the distances involved. The cost to ship to and from anywhere in the United States depends on several factors, including the weight and size of your package and service class. However, according to the FTC, private shipping companies’ delivery options may cost considerably more for a destination in Alaska, Hawai‘i, Puerto Rico and the other US territories than for the contiguous states.”
Congressman James Moylan of Guam who co-sponsored the bill, thanked Rep. Case saying the bill seeks to directly address shipping inequities in both districts. “Due to our location, Guamanians are all too familiar with being denied online essentials or paying outrageous fees for them. It is my hope that this bill will be passed into law.”
“The residents of the Northern Mariana Islands rely on imports to provide many of life’s necessities, making us particularly vulnerable to the cost of shipping,” said Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan of the Northern Mariana Islands. “Today’s bill requires fair pricing and service to all US locations to ensure that consumers in the Marianas and other remote locations are not penalized because of where they live. I look forward to working with Rep. Case to advance this legislation through Congress.”
Case said his “Fair Shipping for Non-Contiguous Areas Act of 2023” includes prohibitions to address the unfair shipping practices:
- No private shipping service may exceed the shipping charge for the same product to and from a location in the contiguous United States as charged to a consumer product or producer good to the non- contiguous area of the United States; and
- No private shipping service may exclude a non-contiguous area of the United States from its shipping policies; or a non-contiguous area of the United States from shipping to its location.
Congressman Case cited the example of a 2-pound package sent from Los Angeles to Hawai‘i, which costs $45.33, but the same shipment from Los Angeles to New York, essentially the same distance, is just $14.28. He said this outrageous price is from a private shipping company that categorizes shipping to Hawai‘i as an international shipment.
“It is hard to believe that over 60 years after becoming a state and over 120 years after becoming part of America, Hawai‘i is still treated as a foreign country,” said Rep. Case.