Thursday, August 11, 2011

Online Order Wishlist

Now that I'm preparing for a trip to India, we're doing a lot of online shopping for things (what things? that's not important for this...).  So far we've had at least one package go awry, and maybe more of that to come...

One feature I'd like to see from online stores is either being able to specify a shipping company, e.g. UPS or U.S. Postal Service, or be able to specify a shipping address based on what shipping company the seller picks.  With nearly all online stores, as a customer I only pick what level of shipping service I want, and the seller picks which company to use for that service.

The problem I have now is that my office is actually on a residential block in Brooklyn, and so the U.S. Postal Service won't deliver packages there, and so far the mailman has yet to leave one of those yellow slips, so anyone going to nearest post office to get it has to fight and argue with the clerks.  UPS delivers reliably (and I'm buddies with the delivery guy, we talk about Hindi movies and things when he comes by...)  FedEx is a toss-up, some packages come, some don't.

On the flip side, my apartment has a small entrance where anyone can come in, but then a locked door to reach the lobby and the mailboxes.  The local mail carrier has a key so he or she can get in to deliver the mail and leave packages on a table.  But UPS doesn't, so UPS requires someone to actually receive the package or they can leave it in the unlocked, unsecured area.

So, the problem is that when placing an order, if I don't want to pay extra for some fast, expensive shipping, I don't know if the seller is going to use UPS or USPS, so I don't know which address to give to actually receive the package.

With Amazon or Zappos, it's easy.  I paid for Amazon Prime, so they ship almost everything with 2nd day air via UPS.  Sure, it costs, but the $79 a year is worth it to get things fast and reliably.  With Zappos, Leena and I are VIP customers, so they ship everything with overnight shipping for free, via UPS.  With those two I know exactly how I'll get the package and it works great.

But with any other sellers, I just don't know.

This past weekend we placed an order from Macy's, who has used USPS in the past.  I mistakenly ordered it to be shipped to my office, then spent time Sunday morning on the phone with a Macy's customer service representative to get it changed to my apartment address.  She wasn't able to do it because the package was already packed and in their shipping department for pickup.  Later I saw it was being shipped via UPS and figured that's fine, I'll get it at the office.  Then Tuesday morning she called me back and said they were successfully able to make an address change request after UPS picked it up, so UPS would deliver it to my apartment address as I requested...

Yesterday we got an online notification that UPS delivered the package, left it at the door of my apartment building.  However, when I got home there was no package.  No package anywhere....  It's probably been stolen.

So, the feature I'd like to see from online sellers is to set up conditions or "business rules" where I can specify the address based on the shipper they use. 

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