Shipping and Other Issues

April 08, 2020 2 Comments

Please read this entire blog, particularly if I referred you to this page for an ongoing shipping issue you may be experiencing.  I try to update it periodically and new updates often are at the bottom.

General Shipping Information:

https://www.whitehotpeppers.com/pages/shipping-details

Pandemic effect on International Shipping:

The pandemic has and still is continuing to impact shipping world wide.  You can google "pandemic shipping issues" if you want to read about all the various scenarios causing these issues and delays.

It appears to be impacting international mail much worse than domestic shipping.  In the past there would be random delays to about 5% of the mail like it was temporarily lost or routed wrong.  That percentage appears to have increased drastically.  I get a large amount of emails asking about their order.  I believe much of the international mail is transported on commercial passenger airlines. Many if not most international airline flights to certain destinations have been canceled or reduced.  I can only imagine this will result in severe delays at times. While I don't know for sure I would plan on many more weeks or months for these to be delivered.  I have seen other seed vendors making similar posts as they also are having a lot of customers asking about their orders.  Please be patient as all of us small time businesses have no control of the international shipping process.  Once it is dropped at the local post office it is out of our hands and nothing we can do about it other than ask patience.  Even during normal times there is occasionally delays.  While normally most of the world is 1 to 3 weeks, sometimes I have seen it take 6 to 12 weeks or more.  During a global pandemic it can only be assumed the delays could be more frequent and potentially even longer.

It would seem that some of the more distant locations from the US like Australia etc. are taking in excess of 10 weeks at times.  I have several mailings in route from early to mid April that have not arrived as of writing this on June 16.  That is 8 - 9 weeks now.   I know of a report back from Portugal of 2 mailings that took 6 weeks and 7 weeks respectively where normally that would have been 7 to 14 days.  If you plan to order from another country overseas during this global pandemic, please count on it taking much much longer than normal to arrive.

Domestic Shipping:  Tracking Stalled

With the current global pandemic there seems to be a lot more shipping issues. Inside the US I have seen an increase in issues with the USPS. While most shipments are still tracking normally, some are showing significant delays. The show leaving a facility in route to the next for days or weeks before moving again. There is nothing I can do about this. You can get with your local post office to see if they can help, but in my past experience this is futile. I ask that you be patient as likely they will arrive. If you cannot wait, you can contact me and I can try to send again or refund your money. This is becoming quite a burden as I receive messages about this nearly daily some weeks.  I expect with the holiday shipping season this will become far worse.  Often these stalls in tracking seem to last a week or 2 before the parcel starts to move again.  I have seen it stall in one location for 3 to 4 weeks also.  While this is unfortunate, there is not much I can do about it as this.  I would ask your patience through these times as I cannot keep up with all of the emails asking about this.  The good news is, to the best of my knowledge all of these delayed mailings have eventually been delivered to the customer.  The bad news, it took way to long to get there.

Domestic Shipping:  Tracking shows Delivered but it wasn't

I get a lot of emails saying that tracking shows their package was delivered, yet it was not.  While I don't know all of the reasons for this I know a few and have a few suspicions for others.   Sometimes, the package is delivered to a neighbors mailbox.  Please give this a few days as most of the time neighbors usually get it to the proper person.  Other times I believe the post office marks it delivered early and sometimes it doesn't actually happen for a day or 2.  Almost all the time that customers email with this question, the item typically arrives in the next few days to week.  I cannot control the mail once it is in the hands of the USPS.  I have no ability to track with more detail than the customer.  I appreciate your understanding and patience with these issues.

All Shipping: Wrong Address

Another issue that has been happening with more frequency lately is wrong addresses.  Not sure if people are not typing correctly or auto fill is causing issues.  I have had several cases of wrong address this year.  Neither me nor the post office cannot be blamed or held responsible for delays or no delivery if the address is not correct.  Please double check your address.  I have even seen where tracking shows a package delivered only to have it show up in my mail a week later returned for not a deliverable address.   Also please double check your email.  I get some complaints later that email notifications were not sent.  I have been getting a lot of bounced back emails recently also due to undeliverable email addresses.

All Shipping:  Customer has deemed the order lost

I get emails sometimes from a customer declaring their order lost.  Sometimes with domestic shipments they come to this conclusion after only a week or 10 days.  The argument I get a lot is that they ordered from another place at a similar time and have already received that one, so the one I sent them must be lost.  The harsh reality is that this is just how shipping with USPS is these days.  Sometimes its 2 days, sometimes it stalls and can be weeks.  I have been asked at times to replace these seeds even though it has been a relatively short time and the tracking shows it is still in transit and is delayed.  See here for an example of this from the USPS tracking site:

In Transit, Arriving Late
Your package will arrive later than expected, but is still on its way. It is currently in transit to the next facility.

If it still shows this I am not going to just replace / resend new seeds at this point.  I have found the delays are getting more and more common.  I cannot replace seeds every time there is a delay.  These shipments almost always start moving.  USPS has been horribly inconsistent and slow at time, particularly since the pandemic and during the holiday shipping season.  But at the end of the day they almost always make it and I have had very few actual lost orders over the last 4 years.  I ask your patience on these matters.  
For international customers there is no tracking but I clearly state in several places with shipping information that it can be several weeks longer now and even months.  Some places are seeing times up to 3 or 4+ months.  While sometimes the delivery times are not effected at all.  Its random chance if we get lucky or not and get a good delivery time.
A perfect example of this happened to me that shows the inconsistency of both International and Domestic shipping.  This happened during the pandemic and holiday season late November / early December 2020.  First I sent an order to a customer in Australia and he reported receiving it in 2 weeks, which I believe is possibly a record for me to Australia.  About the same time a friend who lives about 150 miles north of me within the same state sent a small box of peppers by priority mail, which is supposed to be 2 day.  His mail took exactly 2 weeks to get to me, shipped on Monday Nov 23 and received on Monday Dec 7.

Domestic Shipping: Tracking Alerts

Your item was returned to the sender on December 5, 2020 at 4:32 pm in DENVER, CO 80209 because the address was vacant or the business was no longer operating at the location and no further information was available.

I have received messages like the previous before, but would like to comment on these a bit.  In the case above the customer contacted me, and after verifying his address was correct I assured him if / when it gets returned to me I would resend them after double checking his address again.  Later that same day after trading some emails, he notified me his order arrived.  Yet the tracking still showed this error.  It never did say delivered.  I want to show this to show how aggravating it can be dealing with the USPS these day.
I have had one order that showed that message before and returned to me even though the customer's address was correct.  The other time I see this error and receive the order back is due to incorrect address.  Sometimes people rely on autofill and it is not correct or typos can be made.  I have had a few instances where the software the purchases and generates the mailing labels decides to adjust an address it thinks is not right.  I have seen this before in cases where neighboring towns share a zip code and it has changed the city name.

Domestic Shipping:  December 10, 2020 Update:

I had a talk with my local post office today about all the shipping issues.  A lot of customers are seeing their orders stuck in Peoria, IL or similar.  The tracking information on these may not be correct and it's possible they have moved past Peoria.  The main problem they are seeing is with the regional distribution centers in the Midwest.  They have received reports that many of the main distro centers in the Midwest are extremely backlogged.  There are semi trailers full of parcels sitting in the lots at these centers.  There is just not enough staff / time to process them all efficiently causing large delays. It is taking a week or more at times just to get to them.  I am seeing this with many of the orders I have shipped since late November.  Tracking is stalling for a week or more and in many cases still shows no movement as of today.  Please be patient, your order is most likely not lost, just stuck in the load of parcels at one of the distribution centers.  The hubs in the Midwest are among the busiest in the country.  All mail going from east to west, and west to east and originating in the Midwest can go through these hubs.  With so many more people shopping for the holidays online this year and also sending gifts to relatives rather than travelling, the mail backup has reached epic proportions.  I am sorry, but there is nothing I can do about this other than ask for your patience and understanding.

Domestic Shipping:  Submitting a missing mail form

If you are still waiting for your order, like many are as of this writing on December 13, 2020, you can submit a missing mail form.  If the tracking looks like its stuck somewhere or has some other status that makes you believe it could be missing or otherwise delayed to an unreasonable amount, follow the link below to submit the form.

https://www.usps.com/help/missing-mail.htm

You can also visit your local post office with the tracking number to see if they are able to assist further.

All Shipping:  January 05, 2021 Update

It still seems shipping issues are continuing past the holidays.  I am still receiving daily emails from customers.  Some orders shipped in December / early December and even late November domestically are still showing in transit.  The problems seem to be concentrated mostly in the eastern part of the country.  From what I can tell most orders heading west of me have been relatively normal, with some minor slow downs.  Orders heading towards the east coast are all over the place.  Some have made it, others are still stuck in transit.  It seems a particular problem in the Philadelphia area where I have multiple packages still in transit, some from the first few days of December.

I get emails nearly every day from International customers asking for shipping updates.  Many ask for tracking numbers.  I have documented in many places on the website that at this time I do not ship international orders with tracking numbers.  I only add stamps to the envelope and drop it in the mail.   I have done this for many years now and for the most part it has worked well.  While there are some significant delays sometimes, for the most part everything typically arrives safely.   We are currently in an unprecedented time with shipping.  Between the pandemic and the recent normal holiday slowdowns, international mail at times seems nearly stopped.  Some orders are arriving at a fairly normal time, others are so delayed many customers are emailing claiming them to be lost.  Right now Europe seems to be running anywhere from 1 week to 6 or 7 weeks.  No consistency and the timing is just luck it seems.  One example of this is feedback from a friend in the Czech Republic.  He order from me on November 2, and another vendor in the US on October 22.  He received both orders on December 17.  So the one I sent him took a bit over 6 weeks, the other nearly 8 weeks.  You almost have to wonder if they didn't get put on a slow boat across the Atlantic.  Since the pandemic started, I have seen mailings to Australia reach in record fast times of around 2 weeks, to some taking over 3 months.  I have a few customers in South Africa still waiting patiently on orders going on 3 months now.  I saw a post on facebook from another friend in South Africa reporting about some seeds he received from Spain that took 5 months to arrive.  To sum this up, if you are ordering overseas at this time, please be patient, it can take months, but for the most part they seem to be arriving eventually.

Here are just a few screenshots of some domestic shipping issues.  This first one as you can see took a month to arrive.  It was mailed before Thanksgiving and didn't arrive until just before Christmas.

 

 

This one was an interesting one.  This was shipping Priority Mail in a small flat rate box.  This shows that during these times, priority mail really doesn't mean much.  The entire tracking for this one couldn't fit on one screen to get a screenshot, but it took about 3 weeks.  The most interesting part is the route it took to get there.  This customer lived within an hour drive of Atlanta, GA.  As you can see in the tracking the package went to Atlanta after leaving Illinois.   But rather than being delivered, it left Atlanta and went to Detroit, MI.  This detour took 10 days before getting back to Atlanta and finally being delivered.

 

Here is one that is heading east to the Philadelphia area.  As you can see, the USPS had possession of the item on December 2.  As I write this on January 5, it is still stuck somewhere and has not even arrived to another regional distro center.  Or more likely it is at a distro center out east, but likely stuck on a truck waiting to be unloaded still, or forgotten about.  I see this often.  It is unfortunate, but for the most part these almost always arrive.

Here is another mail heading out east to Philadelphia.  As you can see it has arrived at the USPS facility in Philadelphia, yet for some reason 2 weeks later as I write this in January 5 it still has not been delivered to the customer who actually lives in Philadelphia.

International Shipping:  January 6, 2021 Update:

I continue to get emails quite often from international customers asking for tracking numbers.  I don't ship with tracking internationally at this time.  Some international customers shipping options do show the US method that includes tracking.  I am unsure how this is even happening.  I have tried to place some orders using international destinations and the only option that is presented is the normal method for international shown below.

If you are an international customer and are seeing or have somehow ordered using the domestic option which is USPS First Class with Tracking, this is an error with the website I believe that I have been unable to resolve at this point.  Even if your shipping option selected was that, there is no tracking number.  People are emailing after only 4 to 5 weeks asking why their package hasn't arrived.  Most of the world at this time is taking much longer than that.  Even Europe which normally is relatively quick seems to be taking 6 to 8 weeks.  I myself have seeds coming to me from Europe and most are now passing the 4 to 5 week mark and still have not arrived.

2 Responses

Gianpaolo GIlardi
Gianpaolo GIlardi

December 10, 2020

Good Day Justin

2 Things when do you think it will be safe to send seeds to South Africa again

Langley
Langley

December 10, 2020

Wondering if there’s been any reports how long it’s taking to get to Canada? I’m approaching 6 weeks now and just wondering how much longer I may wait. I received some from a person in California within a week so just seems odd but it may be the way they ship it (in a card vs packet)

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