Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu Dec 17 2015 23:00:09

Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

By: Ina Steiner

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Where is my package?! Online sellers clearly want to vent about late shipments - a seller turned to the Ecommerce EKG board to report a problem, and it's gaining traction.

"Having problems with many delays and miss-directs of 1st Class Parcels. Items are taking 10 days across the US. Customers want to know where is my package?"

Another seller opened an EKG report today to report problems with the USPS SouthEast Texas HOUSTON Regional Sorting Center.

With Christmas a week away, the pressure is on sellers, who are caught not only between the shipping carrier and the customer, but often the marketplace as well. In eBay's case, it displays estimated delivery dates that may not be realistic even at the best of times.

It's not just shipping. We've heard from sellers who have sent inventory to Amazon warehouses through the FBA program that have yet to be processed. One seller said Amazon keeps emailing sellers auto emails, "Keep sufficient FBA inventory on these items during the holidays".  

They asked, "Why does Amazon have them system emailing still to send in FBA goods for the holidays when they are so backed up on receiving goods into FBA?"

What do you do to cope with delayed deliveries and cranky customers, and what are your pet peeves as the holiday pressure intensifies?

ALERT 12/18/15: Retail newcomer Jet.com, hyped as an Amazon-killer and valued at $1.5 billion, is now warning customers it can no longer guarantee delivery of orders by December 25 due to "nationwide shipping delays." Here's the message:

"This year's holiday gift rush has led to nationwide shipping delays that have affected many of our fulfillment partners. We are committed to creating the best possible experience for our customers, so we wanted to let you know that we can no longer confidently guarantee delivery by December 25th for any items not flagged as eligible for 2-day delivery. Thanks for shopping with us as we go through our very first holiday season. Whether it be this year or next, we hope to see you here again soon."

EcommerceBytes advice to readers: Set customer expectations when processing orders from now until Christmas or face the possible wrath of disappointed shoppers like Charlie Brown, pictured above looking in his empty mailbox for his online orders.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

by: Ebay Seller-Ebay Buyer This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 18 00:56:48 2015

I had a first class package take 11 days and it went less than 1,000 miles. I never had first class take more than 4 or 5 days, so this was very surprising. The post office is usually great, but they must be overwhelmed with packages or they haven't hired enough people.

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Dec 18 06:55:47 2015

Mailed a USPS package on December 6th.  It still hasn't arrived. Buyer has been patient but we've agreed to refund today if it does not arrive.

Who will get punished for this? USPS won't?  Don't you love the way eBay measures sellers?

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Fri Dec 18 09:19:03 2015

Buying:  First Class is VERY slow.  One Amazon order I placed Nov. 27 arrived Dec 14 - along with its replacement.  I was going to return the replacement but the seller offered a reduced the price if I would keep it.  So I paid & had another gift to give.

As a buyer, it helps to be an experienced seller when communicating about a missing/delayed item - we have the understanding just how little control a seller has over the shipping arena and can relay that.

My eBay incoming items that come first class are also VERY slow. They just seem to SIT at USPS hubs.  As a rule, I'm waiting 10 days to contact seller.


Selling: A few months back I decided to shift from first class mail - which fits the weight of what I sell - to Priority.  Given the free packaging, free insurance, and the fact they USPS have been giving PRIORITY to Priority Mail over first class - the change seems worth it.  

Cost does not seem too out of line - Many times I pay sellers what I charge for Priority shipping - and the item gets shipped to me first class.

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Dec 18 10:04:35 2015

When the post office gives Amazon packages sunday delivery priority one would assume that they get delivery priority the other days to avoid having to pay someone to work on Sunday. Doesn't matter if Amazon is paying this persons wages, as the post office has cut a deal with them. ie lower prices. along with the chinese epackets that the post office loses money on.

Its safe to assume that the lowly american citizen just trying to mail a package from one side of the street to the other side is going pay for the special treatment of the post office diamond shippers.

Bet ebay diamonds don't have this problem.

When it takes days for a simple first class package to be delivered to a neighbor it says volumes about where the lowly american citizen stands in the shipping structure.

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Fri Dec 18 10:27:00 2015

Buyers can be persuaded to be reasonable as long as you take the time to reset the unrealistic expectations eBay sets for buyers.

We send every buyer a shipping confirmation notice to the email address shown in PayPal.

We use that communication to reset their expectations. Part of our communication to buyers reads:

"Please note that the estimated delivery dates displayed by eBay are just that - estimates, as sellers we have no control over the estimated delivery dates eBay chooses to display.

Delivery dates displayed by eBay do not take into account Federal Holiday closures, high holiday volume, or seasonal weather complications which can result in delays in delivery by the Postal Service. We apologize in advance if eBay's estimated delivery display fails to accurately represent the actual date of delivery by the Postal Service."

We also set up an email tracking notification email so that USPS sends information to buyers as to the status of their package.

We ship every order within 1 business day of receiving payment, and buyers are able to see that the package was scanned and accepted within that time frame.

Thus far this season, when orders are delayed, we are finding that buyers are placing blame where it belongs - with eBay and with USPS.

Knock on wood, our feedback from buyers when packages are delayed has been positive, and we have not as yet seen any dings for late delivery despite having had multiple orders miss routed by USPS.


Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

This user has validated their user name. by: IDKwhoIare

Fri Dec 18 13:11:09 2015

What Ric said, more or less.

Re-setting the customers' expectations up front seems to be doing the trick.  I am not on eBay any more, and don't have to contend with those ridiculous Estimated Delivery dates on top of the Customers' preconceived notion that items fly themselves to their mailboxes at the speed of light.  It helps quite a bit when a venue isn't blowing sunshine up peep's skirts for you.

Yikes, USPS seems to be either doing a fantastic job or they are utterly failing...not a lot going on in the middle for my packages this year.  Thanking my stars that the Buyers whose packages are falling into the latter category seem to have a sense of humor about it so far.

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Dec 18 16:03:47 2015

I basically do what Ric does. I send an e-mail to each of my buyers thanking them for their purchase and giving them the tracking number and a link to usps.com. I also give them the estimated delivery time, and tell them to check online if their package hasn't arrived when expected. I've only had two buyers contact me again, one because he couldn't get the tracking number to show up (it worked fine for me so I guess he typed it in wrong), and the other buyer had her package selected to go on a "vacation" trip and it took a week and a half to go across the same county.

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Fri Dec 18 22:38:02 2015

See alert above - Jet.com is warning its customers of shipping delays. Take heed.

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Fri Dec 18 23:50:39 2015

TSall good here.

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Sat Dec 19 00:51:26 2015

As a Buyer all of my USPS First Class packages from across the USA are arriving on time. Amason is slower but it projects 2 week delivery for First Class packets. eBay Feedback asks "Did it arrive on or before the estimated date of December __" and typically yes it did. No complaints as a Buyer, but I can't say the same as an eBay Seller. I now have 3 new "Defects" for "Where's My Item" for packets that disappeared off the tracking radar for 10 days on a 5-Business Day delivery window. The fact that USPS shows the item entered the mail stream - or that the transaction spanned a federal postal holiday -seems to be irrelevant to the "Defect"

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

by: OnlyPollyPocket This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 19 08:20:59 2015

Just because I have no life I decided to Google how long it took the Pony Express to deliver mail.

In 1860-61, it took 10 days to deliver a letter on horseback from St. Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA.

We've come a long way, baby????  ROFL!

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

by: Randy This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 19 10:56:02 2015

@OnlyPollyPocket
LOVE IT!

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

by: Owen This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 19 11:14:54 2015

Had a Priority package take 10 days to go from NY to WI. I am now upgrading all my First Class packages to Priority. After the 10 day problem mentioned above, it might not even be worth the higher price.

Why do we pay a lot extra for Priority and get such shoddy service?

I do know that Fedex and UPS drop off a lot of their packages for the USPS to complete shipping. My PO is complaining about that. It is overwhelming them. And they tell me that there is a big increase in their own package services this year compared to others. Many people opted to shop online.

I wonder if people are afraid to go shopping at the malls due to terrorism fears, and would rather shop online.

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Sat Dec 19 13:13:18 2015


I was hating the whole mall experience BEFORE today's terror worries.  I can't even count how many years I've been avoiding malls.  A mall could be GIVING stuff away and I doubt I'd go.

Vast majority of our holiday purchases were online this year.  If I could buy perishable groceries online I would.


Incoming shipment IS taking longer the past few days.  And my USPS has also been delivering LOTS of FedEx.  I have not seen my regular mail lady for over a week. Every day is a different sub, but no mess-ups so they are doing OK.  

A Priority item I shipped indicated it was going to arrive Tuesday next week, but it was delivered today - Saturday.  So, ahead of the game.  Even a package to a village in Alaska made it in a reasonably short time.  

Good marks to USPS this year - oh wait, they don't get rated.  


Amazon WAS arriving ahead of time, now it seems to be coming around the latest of their estimate.  One thing - I do check the box that says to combine items as it makes sense and not to ship each item separately.  That is probably part of why things are taking longer - but they are not gifts.

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

by: Owen This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 19 22:29:34 2015

Just had another Priority Mail problem reported today by my buyer. Package left here on Dec. 11, arrived at her destination in Philadelphia on the 14th, then on the 15th, it was shipped out to Chicago, IL---???? where it is still lingering. I put in another formal inquiry w the PO about trying to get it back on track. Just ridiculous. Of course, the buyer is justifiably upset. But then, so am I.

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Sun Dec 20 13:43:09 2015

For analytics (paralytics?) on shipping & delivery services this holiday season, try:

http://parcelindustry.com/flex-12-Magazine.html

htt
p://www.chainstoreage.com/article/study-delivery-providers-stumble-key-metric#

https://www.internetretailer.com/2015/12/14/time-delivery-rates-online-orders-decline-december

http://www.retailingtoday.com/article/study-holiday-delivery-performance-worsens

http://spendmanagementexperts.com/category/news-coverage/

http://www.intelligentaudit.com/news-media/brochures-info/

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

by: rachel This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 01:26:19 2015

Priority mail is really just first class mail that is shipped ''as a priority'' after all express (now called priority express) mail goes out. If there is a lot of express mail next goes the Priority mail and after that first class non-priority mail...I used to have the Federal Employees and the postal service as accounts in a former life and asked them a lot of questions. The main huge processing center told me that handling all that mail, millions of packages now,something will fall into a black hole but eventually will be found. I have found that to be true with priority. Can't expect perfection in a volume business. Most reasonable customers know this but some just seem to think that nothing should ever go wrong and that 100% accuracy is the norm. So far no late packages but it's not down to the wireeyet. More packages than ever yet the most senior people that still read script LOL, are retiring and are urged to do so. Will see what happens. Someone bought something today and it was not expensive so it defaulted to first class which usually I don't use so I am shipping priority to avoid problems. First class does not have an expected delivery time, just a typical delivery time depending upon volume.  

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

by: Interesting Antiques This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 02:28:27 2015

My daughter ordered a gift for me on Black Friday, to date it has not arrived. She contacted the seller and the tracking shows the package went to Japan!! I am in Canada! The seller told our daughter that her whole shipment for that day went to Japan! No Japan customers only USA and Canada!
The usps is getting absolutely ridiculous,  Priority envelopes  in early Dec were taking  up to 9 days to arrive, I cringe to see what happens now, it will be a lot of frustrated customers. The only  bright light was shipping an Express Mail package that was to be delivered on Monday, arrived today (Sunday).  

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

by: Biglouis This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 03:21:47 2015

I ship from the UK - mostly to the USA. After stressful experiences in former years I now close all my online shops around the 14th December and take a break. Then I re-open them on Christmas Eve when all the stress is over.

I was once told by a charming Ebay customer that I had ''ruined her daughters Christmas'' because a gift failed to materialise in time. Of course she had ordered it at the last possible minuite and ignored my warnings about delays to international packages.

I was tempted to tell her that she and her daughter needed to get a grip, as there are far worse experiences in life than not getting a gift in time.

Perminate Link for Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves   Bah Humbug! Shipping and Other Seller Peeves

by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 21 06:54:11 2015

Amazon makes its Marketplace sellers ship within a few days. I placed two orders for Christmas presents with Amazon on December 9. Amazon didn't ship these orders until 10 days later and they will not arrive in time. The items were all listed as in stock.

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