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RE: on-line shopping

Jamie Noble recounted a bad experience with mail order shopping, however I
have a strong feeling that he's angry at the wrong party.

Nowhere in Jamie's post does he tell us where he's from, although he said at
one point that both the U.S. Postal Service and Canada Post were involved. I
suspect that Jamie is somewhere in Canada. From the comments in his post
about the dealer not offering an alternative shipping method (i.e. a courier
company), I take it that Jamie feels that UPS or Purolator could have
handled his packages better/faster.

Jamie does say that his order was placed on the 10th of December of last
year. He's ticked that it didn't arrive in a timely manner.

Now, I don't work for the Post Office, and I have never bought anything from
the particular dealer Jamie is ticked with, but I do buy a lot of my
aquarium goods mail order from a number of sources, in Canada, the U.S., and
Europe. I am also a VERY picky customer. If any dealer gives me a rough
time, or shoddy service, they hear about it (so do quite a few other

However, I don't think Jamie has much to complain about here. First of all,
anyone placing an order which is going to have to cross an international
border at Christmas time (the highest volume time of the year, by far) is
only asking for trouble. It isn't the dealer's fault if a parcel gets
delayed/lost in the huge volume of mail moving between Canada and the US at
that time of year.

On the topic of using courier services in the mistaken notion that they are
faster/more reliable - they are also FAR more expensive, especially when the
world's longest undefended border is concerned. Since the implementation of
NAFTA, most goods manufactured in the United States can enter Canada without
duty - they may still have to be inspected by Customs, but usually
(especially these days) they are usually looking for either drugs or porn
and a package marked "aquarium supplies" gets through very quickly and with
no charges if using the Post Office. If however, the parcel travels in via a
Courier company - THEY will bill the recipent a "Customs Clearance Fee" of
approximately $20.00 - $30.00 Cdn. This is a hold over from the days when
they DID have to fill out lots of paperwork and take care of duties and
customs fees levied by the federal government on foreign goods entering the
country. But those days are long gone - the fee now only serves to fatten
the courier company's bottom line at the customer's expense.

Packages which travel via the Post Office can and do get lost or go astray.
This is the Post Office's problem, not the dealer's. I once had a package
get mislaid in shipping and the regulations of both the US Postal Service
and Canada Post are similar - they have something like 90 days beofre you
can even FILE a notice that the parcel is missing, and then the search can
take a further 90 days to look for it before you could legitamately expect
the dealer to be able to file an insurance claim and re-issue the goods or
provide a refund. That's SIX months.

Jamie said that the dealer shipped a second unit 60 days after he placed his
initial order. I think that the dealer was being quite generous.

As I said, I do QUITE a bit of mail order (I also do QUITE a bit of local
shopping at various LFS) and I know when to bitch - but Jamie, give the
dealer in question a break - you have no right to dish him publicly for
something which is beyond his control. My experience with the dealers who
have a presence here on the APD has been uniformly excellent - they have
always gone out of their way to be helpful (that's why I continue to shop
with them).

James Purchase
(a committed mail-order shop-a-holic)