How Much Will it Cost?
Our shipping cost calculations are rather complicated and are based upon the size and weight of each item. The easiest way to obtain a quote of shipping costs is, accordingly, simply to put the items you're interested in buying in your shopping cart and proceed to checkout; you will be shown your shipping choices before you complete checkout, and you will not be charged unless and until you do select a shipping method and complete checkout.
US and USPS-served locations:
Within the 50 United States:
Within the United States proper, we offer various shipping methods. Our recommended method is USPS Priority Mail, which will get the package to you typically in 2 to 3 postal days once your order has been shipped. Alternatively, we offer Federal Express Ground/Home Delivery service; some people prefer this to USPS because it offers fuller tracking, but it can be much slower, especially if your ship-to location is far from Seattle. We also offer Federal Express Second Day Air and Standard Overnight for fast and trackable service--it is important to note, however, that we cannot guarantee that your order will ship the day it is received and so the speed of service is dependent upon how quickly we can ship. While we do ship most orders within a day of ordering, there are circumstances, such as an unexpected stock-out situation, which can delay us in getting your order out.
Other USPS-served locations:
To locations outside the 50 United States but within the coverage of the US Postal Service (e.g., APO/FPO, Puerto Rico, Guam, Pulau), we offer only US Priority Mail shipment.
All Other Countries:
To the rest of the world, we offer shipping options that depend upon the particular country to which we're shipping. These will vary because some services are supported to some countries and not others. The most important distinctions to note are those between Federal Express and Postal-Service based shipping methods, because we treat tax and duty considerations very differently under these two options.
Federal Express International Priority: Highly Recommended
Our recommended service, and the only service which consistently provides solid tracking information for every package, is Federal Express International Priority. This service will typically deliver within 48 to 72 hours of shipment anywhere in the world. If your country charges VAT and/or customs duties for your shipment, we have those charges billed back to us, so your package will arrive without any need to pay additional duties, taxes, or customs fees. At checkout, if you select Federal Express, we will charge your country's VAT rate on your order. For reasons which are in some cases rather strange and obscure, and frankly not very consistent from country to country or package to package, the VAT we ultimately have to pay to your country's taxing authority may be less than or more than the amount of VAT we charge you. The valuation of goods reflected on our customs declarations is based upon the net payment collected after deducting the list-rate shipping cost which FedEx reports to your country (which generally is included in the taxable total) from the gross payment.
Postal Service Methods:
We also can ship using, depending on the destination country and package size, one or more of the following methods. These are the "US"-side names for the services, which will correspond to different names in your own postal service depending upon the destination country. It should be noted that these postal services, while often more economical than FedEx, come with limitations. In all cases, any VAT, duties or customs fees which are owed will be payable by the recipient, and we have no reliable method to predict whether such fees will be owed or how much they will amount to. In most countries, tracking on these methods of shipment ranges from non-existent to minimal. We have no ability to contact your local postal authorities to add instructions regarding your delivery, or indeed to do anything about it at all after it has left our hands. Postal shipments are prone, in many countries, to long delays (as much as four weeks in some cases) while customs officials review them for assessment of fees. In sum, we strongly recommend the Federal Express option; if you select a postal service option, do not be surprised if your package takes a while to arrive and/or is completely untrackable. Note also that we have no more access to tracking data than you do; if a package does not track for you, we will not be able to tell you anything about it other than the date that we shipped it.
All of that being said, the postal service options commonly available are:
International First-Class Mail: The most basic, nontrackable service, First Class Mail usually will be delivered within four weeks of shipment but can take longer. On rare occasion and to a few countries, the customs tag number may provide limited tracking, but this method should ordinarily be regarded as completely untrackable.
International Priority Mail: International Priority Mail is ordinarily said to be deliverable within six to ten business days (that is, two weeks, if there are no holidays intervening). Our experience is that while most packages are delivered within that window, many are not. The service is said to be trackable, but tracking information is frequently absent from the system for reasons which are something of a mystery to us. The quality of tracking information, when available, will vary with destination country, as the USPS stops tracking the package itself when it leaves the US and can only rely on the destination country's postal service to scan and forward the appropriate data.
Express Mail International: This is the best of the normal postal-service methods. It provides the most consistent tracking, often (but not always) has priority of processing in the destination country's customs facility, and generally is delivered within its stated three to five business day timeframe. However, tracking availability is still inconsistent from package to package, and delivery speed likewise is a bit unpredictable.
Our experience is that while many customers balk at the cost of International Federal Express, customer satisfaction with Federal Express delivery is vastly better than with any of the postal services. The package is more likely to be on time; it is more likely to be trackable; there are no unpleasant surprises in the form of excessive customs charges on delivery; there is, basically, a good deal less to worry about. In choosing a shipping method, please take this into account; it is worth a bit more money to avoid being confused and/or angry about where your package is and when it's coming.
Order Turnaround/Processing time:
We ship the majority of orders within one business day of receipt, and virtually all within two business days. If we have a temporary inventory shortfall or otherwise expect not to meet this timetable, we ordinarily will contact you to advise you of the issue and determine how to proceed. Please be sure to provide us a valid e-mail address at checkout so that we can contact you easily if necessary.