Military shipping woes

The alternative title for this post is "Yes, Alaska and Hawaii are part of the United States and yes, the post office does deliver here."

MacGyver has spent 8 of his 12 years in the Army in OCONUS (outside the continental United States) locations. One of the biggest frustrations of living OCONUS (aside from not having the stores and restaurants that we took for granted on the mainland/lower 48 available to us whenever we want) is that many companies either refuse to ship to Alaska/Hawaii or refuse to use the United States Postal Service (USPS). Instead, they insist on shipping via UPS (United Parcel Service).

Now don't get me wrong - I like UPS. Just not when it comes to shipping to Alaska/Hawaii. When shipping via UPS to Alaska or Hawaii, my options are:

1.) Pay an arm and a leg and get it in two days


2.) Pay a little less and get it in 14 days if you're lucky and there isn't a storm somewhere in the Pacific.

As an example, I had to order some items for a Children's ministry I work with at church. The organization from whom I ordered only uses UPS to ship to my location. Fabulous. I ordered 10 softcover books (no more than 60 pages each) a few small clothing items, and some patches. All of which could have fit into a large, flat-rate box from the Postal Service. I would have paid $14.50. Additionally, my items would have arrived in approximately 3 days. Instead, because this organization only ships to my location via UPS, I paid more than double that amount and it took more than twice as long to receive the items I ordered.


A few weeks ago, I wanted to order some things from a company back where I went to college. I was excited about my purchases until I arrived at the checkout and realized that shipping was going to cost me more than the purchases themselves. Because I really like this company and their merchandise, I dropped them a note via email asking whether shipping via the Postal Service was an option. No dice - "Sadly I do not have access to a postal meter, or a US mail pick up at my warehouse. I do realize that it is much cheaper especially to go to AK and HI."

So much for that idea.

It frustrates me to no end to try to order something either to be told that they don't ship at all outside the continental United States (I could understand if it were a violation of USDA policies) or that they ONLY ship via UPS. Why? Because no one in your company has access to the Post Office? Even if they charged me an additional $5 (or even $10 in some instances!) to box it up in a flat-rate box and hand it to the mail man (or woman), it STILL wouldn't be as expensive as it is to ship here via UPS. AND I'd get my stuff in 1/2 the time.

Instead - sadly - this company lost my business. I wonder how many other companies lose out on Alaska/Hawaii business simply due to their shipping policies?


- hfs


Cannibal Panda said...

I know they lose a lot of AK business, but in the scheme of things it isn't enough to hurt their sales and cause them to change. Where I am from (sm village off Yukon) you cannot drive into -only accessed via plane, or barge in summer for large items/equip/vehicles. So USPS is the only option, and items are generally double the cost due to the shipping/handling charges they apply. Most people just go down to Anchorage a few times a year and grab what they need at their favorite shops to avoid shipping charges.

However, when it comes right down to it- if you really like the item(s) you either have to bite the bullet, not buy it, or get creative. In the latter situation sometimes if you get a group that likes items from a certain merchant you can make a bulk order and save on shipping that way.

Definitely frustrating, as you said.

Homefront Six said...

Very frustrating. I usually wind up shipping stuff to my inlaws if they are headed this way and they are kind enough to bring it with them.

If I *really* need it, I'll send it to them and ask them to forward it on but I hate doing that.

And yes, we combine orders (Oriental Trading Company is one that we do this with) as well.

HMS Defiant said...

You may color me 'ignorant'. Have you tried shipping it to your APO? This is one of those fool all of the people all of the time kind of ideas I come up with.

Crista said...

UPS has also increased their CONUS rates so it's not just you (though I'm aware Alaska/Hawaii has always been more expensive). Unless you live in a "big city" in the lower 48, you are now paying extra for "rural" delivery. *vomit* I now often pay more or close to the price of the enclosed merchandise to ship it. However, I'd rather use UPS than USPS. Much more reliable here.

Homefront Six said...

HMS ~ We don't have an APO to ship to. And, a lot of time, companies will not ship to an APO/FPO.

Bobby said...

HFS: Check out www.apobox.com. We use it all the time to get out stuff out here to Japan. It does cost some, but it is quick and not very expensive.

Basically, they give you a street address In CONUS to ship to and they pack it up in to a USPS box (usually the flat-rate box) and ship it to you. You can order express service from them also.


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