Please Ask Before You Ship!

Please Ask Before You Ship!

This post is an open letter to all online stores. I hope somebody takes it to heart!

  • When shipping an item ordered long ago, during the festive season, please ask whether it is a good time to ship?

For a couple of weeks at the end of last year, many online stores let customers know when the last date is to order in time for Christmas. I really appreciate this – it makes it so much easier to know whether to order online or make a different plan.

Some stores also started letting customers know that they will be closed on certain dates over the festive season. “If you order after 21 December, your order will only be processed after 2 January.” Again, thank you for the useful information!

I think we can all agree that schedules and priorities change over the festive season, and good information makes life easier during this period.

End of last year I had one very frustrating online shopping experience. My aim here is not to lay blame on the specific store, so I will not even mention which store it was. But I am hoping that there is something to be learned from my experience.

I placed an order at the end of September for an imported item, knowing that the import would take a while. A few weeks passed, and I got a notification saying the shipment is delayed. Annoying, but I didn’t exactly need the item soon, so no harm done.

And then, on the 21st of December, I got an email saying that my order has been shipped to my work address.

Worst. Possible. Timing.

As you might guess, I was on leave at that point. I would not return to work until the 7th of January. And even worse, the company I work at was closed for the holidays so nobody else would be there to receive it on my behalf either.

It was not easy to get hold of the online store or the courier company that time of the year, but eventually I managed to collect the package from the courier’s depot. So at least it worked out in the end, but only because I made the extra effort. And only because I happened to be at home this holiday and not on a beach somewhere exotic.

The point of the whole story is this. Online stores, if you plan to ship an item that was ordered months ago, during the festive season, please just ask the customer whether it is a good time to ship before you send it?

Thanks to for the picture that formed the basis of the image used here.

Author: Hermien Pellissier

Hermien is an instructional designer and lecturer. In her spare time, she is an avid photographer and loves to travel.