2020 has been a challenging year for all of us in many different ways. The major shipping companies are no exception.
We've offered free shipping on all orders for over a year now and in that time have experimented with four of the most well-known shipping companies in the business, trying to find the right balance between cost (it may be free to you, but it's certainly not free to us!), speed, and reliability. Everything we've learned went out the window around June 2020. Once-reliable delivery times became wildly irregular, accurate tracking became sometimes non-existent.
There are good reasons for this and we aren't pointing the finger or looking to place blame. Instead, we're asking for all of our customers to have grace for the shipping companies that are understaffed and overworked. People are shopping online in record numbers in 2020 while staying home to avoid crowds and stay safe. The end result is a massive increase in mail traffic.
There are three major effects of this that we've seen:
- Shipping times are longer than usual. We used to reliably ship a paddle anywhere in the US in 2-4 days tops. We're now seeing shipping times as long as 10+ days.
- Shipping times are inconsistent. Two packages shipped out the same day to the same city may arrive days apart. We have no control over this or reason for it. It simply is.
- Tracking information may be inaccurate. We have daily shipping pickups at our shop. If you received an email with a tracking number, rest assured that your package left our shop within 24 hours of that email being sent. We won't pretend to understand how the logistics for shipping companies work, but it's clear that a package can move throughout their system without the tracking updating.
Point #3 above is especially important. We've received many emails from customers wondering why their package hadn't shipped for several days after receiving a tracking number. In every single case, the package had shipped and it was simply the tracking that was not updating properly. In most cases, the first tracking update would happen a few days later in the destination city, with no information while in transit.
So what's the solution? Well, for now at least, there really isn't one. We must all accept that delayed shipping and tracking is another side effect of the unprecedented reality we all find ourselves in this year. The least expensive shipping options with a guaranteed delivery time are around $40, which is far more than we can afford to spend for our "free" shipping option. If you'd like to pay the extra shipping cost for this option, please leave notes with your order or email us and we're happy to make it happen for you.
Most of all, we ask that everyone practice patience and have grace for the shipping companies and their delivery workers, who on top of the stresses of daily life in 2020 must also deal with angry customers who are upset about late deliveries--late deliveries well beyond the control of any single delivery worker.
Hang in there everyone. Be kind, support one another, stay safe, and stay healthy.
(Update on 12/11/2020: Just yesterday we spoke with our local UPS distribution center--they're about 2 blocks from our shop. Their average holiday season package volume in previous years is around 10,000 parcels per day. This year, they're seeing over 20,000 per day. They've maxed out their staff and the "night crew" is coming in at noon, rather than 6PM to help with the workload. The equipment itself (trucks, scanners, conveyors, etc.) is absolutely maxed out. Without building another facility, there is no more capacity available. The story is similar for the other shipping companies, so please, keep all of this in mind while waiting for your package to arrive!)