With less than 2 months until Christmas I thought it would be a great time to touch on a few things when it comes to online shopping. As customers there are a things we can do and should do to help avoid shopping/shipping frustrations.
When shopping online, especially with handmade/indie shops, shop early. I can not stress that enough. Shoppers need to keep in mind that this is the busiest time of the year for sellers, which also makes it the busiest time of year for the postal service. We all know how slow and unreliable the postal service can be during non busy times, so I think it is safe to say that it wont get any better with the holidays either. Plus add on the fact that they hire seasonal help that are not trained properly...enough said.
You need to look at a shops stated turn around times (TAT). A TAT is not how long it will take for you to have the products in your hands, it is an approximate time frame in how long it will take for your order to be out the door. Most shops I have seen have their TAT in business days, not just days.
Some companies will also give you a holiday TAT and schedule which is awesome.
A seller has 30 days from the time you order to ship your package according to the FTC Mail and Telephone Order Merchandise Rule. If you find a shop that does not state their TAT, I would message them BEFORE ordering from them. This could prevent many headaches and disappointments.
There are times that we as customers need to contact a seller about our order or a product. While most sellers are happy to answer our questions, we as good customers should do our best to find the answers we are wanting before contacting the seller. Read the shop policies to find out about returns, refunds and their TAT along with possibly shipping information. Some sites have a specific area to find shipping costs and their shipping days. Read product listing to find the details like ingredients, size, materials used, and scent/flavor options. If you can't find the answers you need, then sending an email would be the next step. This leads me to my next point...
Emailing a seller and waiting for a response from them, be patient. I know it can be a hard thing to do at times, especially when looking for answers. I think it would be fair to give a seller at least 3 days to respond to a message. If after that time you have not heard back from them a quick polite reminder message would be fine. Sending numerous messages really isn't going to help a situation or get your order to you any faster. It is only taking time away from the seller that they could be using to fill orders and get them shipped. Sometimes sellers will post on their fan page about issues if there are emails from several customers. It is always a good idea to check their page to see if this applies to your circumstance. It is not that the seller is ignoring you, they are actually trying to save time by answering several people at once.
While I am on the subject of sellers and time I want to add something to this that we sometimes forget. Sellers are people, living breathing humans, they are not machines that crank out products 24/7. Many sellers are wives, mothers, students and they have families and lives outside of their company. We don't work our jobs 24 hours a day so I don't think it is fair for us to think they should. They deserve some down time, time to enjoy life and be a person outside of their job.
What are some other things we can do to make online holiday shopping less stressful for us and sellers?
- If you need a package for a specific event, email the seller and ask if it is possible for it to happen. Sometimes sellers will offer faster shipping methods for a little more money to cover the shipping price.
- If your order is for a high amount I encourage you to find out if the seller offers insurance. Most of the time you will have to pay a little extra to cover the cost of insurance.
- Don't panic if your tracking number doesn't update. I have on good authority (a family member is a postal worker) that despite the fact tracking numbers should be updated that isn't always the case, especially during the holiday season.
- Keep in mind that once your package is in the hands of the post office the seller has no control over how long it takes to get to you. I think it is fair to give about 2 weeks before you contact the seller if your package hasn't arrived.
- After talking to some international friends, I suggest waiting between 15 and 20 business days before contacting a seller about a package that hasn't arrived. This is due to it taking so long to even get to your country and then go through customs.
- You should make yourself aware of the customs laws for your country. For example the value of packages can and will cause customs to hold your packages and charge you an additional tax on them.
The season of giving is upon us. The greatest gift you can give someone is kindness. Kindness can be given in so many ways and costs absolutely nothing, but could have the value of gold to someone. Just with your actions, a smile, a kind word you can make a huge difference in someones heart.
Peace, Love and Cupcakes.