Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Wait is Killing You, What to Do?

Maybe you've been on an on-line auction house or bought something from another special interest forum member.  You've paid but your package hasn't arrived.  Of course you're really, really excited and want it now but it isn't here.  You think it should be and so you start to bad mouth the seller to anyone who will listen.  What should you do?

I have been on a lot of forums and started with Ebay when it was all brand new. I've done a lot of deals of one sort or another in that time, now over 13 years, probably well over 2000 packages shipped and received and I've seen all sorts of stuff.  Mail is a pain. I remember when packages took 3 weeks to cross country but you could put stamps and an address on a suitcase and mail it. We were spoiled for a while but yes, the USPS is getting slower.  I've had mail take 14 days to go from my house to the house next door. It has to go from here to the central distribution point and then back again. Where it was in the extra 11-12 days I can not say but it was 14 days until it showed up. I've had mail make it to Hawaii in 3 days, regular mail, not priority. Priority mail hardly ever takes more than 3 days, very seldom more than 4 but one package was hanging out there 31 days (which is why the PO makes you wait 30 days to file an insurance claim).

Yes, I have had a couple-three people take a loooooong time to ship and yes they were less than honest as to what's going on. A couple, in all those years.  Most people I know are "on the go". They have families, jobs, and many travel (particularly on the holidays) and then there are the inevitable problems. Stuff happens. Not all of us have the internet wired directly into our brains.

Then also I've seen people quick to pull the trigger on "slow shippers" who were embarrassed to receive the long awaited item with the reported ship date on the postage. In other words, the shipper told the truth and they got the package late due to the carrier, not the seller. One admitted it and rued his quick temper, the others were discovered as I perused their package's shipping labels and postage cancellations. I wonder how many people I don't know who also jump to conclusions.

So, what should you do?
- Pay in a way that is traceable.  USPS money orders, PayPal, credit card all give proof of payment and receipt by the seller.  If mailing the payment, send return receipt requested.
- Tell the seller when you send the money, i.e. call or send an e-mail as soon as possible after you've done so. 
- Allow a reasonable amount of time for shipping of both your payment and your item.  You should expect that the seller would receive your money before shipping.  If using first class mail both ways it wouldn't be unreasonable to allow 7 days each way.  UPS ground takes an average of 6 days across country, priority mail 3 days, first class or parcel post 7-14 days.  Take this into consideration and mark a "no later than" date on your calendar.  Ask for the tracking number if shipped by FEDEX or UPS.
- Exercise some patience.  By all means check the progress of the package on FEDEX or UPS. 
- If the item doesn't arrive when expected contact the seller and let them know.  If by e-mail get a read receipt AND ask for a response.  If you are using an on-line service provider like Ebay that requires complaints on a strict schedule be sure to follow through with that.  If the seller said you should expect the item by a certain date be certain to let the seller know when it arrives or if it fails to arrive. 

The USPS requires that you wait 30-days to file an insurance claim because they know that sometimes stuff happens and packages float about in their system for a little less than that length of time.  I have had packages actually take 35 days to travel 250 miles as verified by the postmark.  This was an insured and tracked package of moderate value.  Again, stuff happens. 

What you should NOT do is unreasonably slander folks on the internet.  Words said here never go away and don't reflect well on either the buyer or the seller. 

Best of luck on your mail or internet purchases!

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