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Physical Book Publishing > Shipping Nightmares

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message 1: by E.A. (new)

E.A. Briginshaw | 74 comments My latest novel was released in late April and I placed an initial order for 40 copies through Createspace. In the past, I have been extremely happy with them but I've had problems with the shipping of my last two orders. When I ordered my proof copy, I paid extra for "Priority Shipping". It didn't arrive on the promised date, but only missed by a couple of days so it was no big deal.

I also chose "Priority Shipping" for my latest order and it turned into a shipping nightmare. I suspected my order would be late because it didn't ship until a few days before the promised delivery date. I tracked it and could see that it made it to a city about 45 minutes away from my location on the day it was supposed to arrive. For some reason, the status changed to "Undeliverable: Bad Address" and I was requested to contact the courier company (DHL). I did, and they verified that the address was correct and promised it would be delivered the next day. It didn't.

I contacted Createspace and they followed up. They verified the address was correct and sent an email saying it would arrive within 24 hours. It didn't. Once again, it was flagged as having an invalid address. Numerous calls to both Createspace and DHL just resulted in promises that it would arrive "tomorrow", but "tomorrow" just kept moving.

I was asked numerous times whether I lived in an apartment building (I don't) or whether it was a post office box (It isn't). I've received over 8 shipments of books to this same address over the last two years without a problem.

I suspect the problem is that DHL actually passed my package off to another courier company (Loomis) for final delivery and the communication between those two companies failed.

The books finally arrived today, without any explanation as to what went wrong. Unfortunately, I was supposed to sell my books at a writer's group meeting today but the books didn't arrive until after the event.

Createspace refunded me the cost of "Priority Shipping", but I'm afraid to place any more orders. Looking back at my previous orders, some seem to come using UPS and some come using DHL. I've asked Createspace whether I can request a particular company to use as the shipper, but they haven't responded.

Do any of you have any advice on ways to avoid these shipping nightmares? I should point out that I live in Canada, so all shipments coming from Createspace are international.


message 2: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 269 comments Sorry to hear of your difficulties. I always look on shipping as a bit of a lottery, but my recent experiences with CS shipping have been very good. I released my latest novel at the beginning of April. My proof copy arrived in a matter of days, and once I'd reviewed it and hit "publish" I ordered a box of 20 on the Monday which was delivered on the Friday. It would have been the day before but there was duty to pay (I also live in Canada) and nobody home to give them a check.

This was just regular shipping, not priority. I have used priority shipping in the past, and I think it's always been inside the stated delivery time but concluded it wasn't worth it.

These recent deliveries were through UPS. Oddly enough, the one badly delayed shipment was DHL. Is there a pattern there? That box got held up clearing customs, and the biggest issue was the lack of clear communications on what I needed to do. DHL required me to send them a one-time power of attorney to authorize them to clear customs on my behalf. To do that I had to register my writing business with CRA and get a program account as an importer. Sounds daunting but was easy enough in the end.

The only advice I can offer is the rather obvious: plan ahead and don't bank on a quick delivery. And, personally, I don't bother paying extra for priority because it doesn't seem to make a reliable difference.


message 3: by E.A. (new)

E.A. Briginshaw | 74 comments Ian, thanks for your comments. I normally try to keep a reasonable quantity of each of my books on the shelf so I can accommodate new sales quickly, without having to pay extra for "Priority Shipping". However, since this was my initial order of my new book and I had already pre-sold most of them, I wanted to get them as quickly as possible (which obviously didn't work out).

Another complaint I have against DHL is that they charged me an extra "Processing Fee" and "Transaction Fee" that I was never charged when the books came using UPS. I feel fortunate that they never asked for a "power of attorney" document to get my books across the border. I've been doing this now for over five years without facing that issue.

I just heard back from Createspace. They are going to reimburse me for the extra fees charged by DHL. However, they said I would not be able to specify that I want my books shipped by UPS rather than DHL. Looking back through my orders, it seems somewhat random as to which courier gets used.


message 4: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Thatcher (jenna_thatcher) | 132 comments I thought this was a thread about shipping nightmares. As in, a couple you 'ship', and you're having nightmares about it.

I've been sucked into ridiculous teenage slang. Ugh.


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