Thursday, March 20

Going, Going… Gone!

Yesterday I got the sanding done quickly. Combine that with the fact that Marie was going to be quite late in coming back here and I had time to go ahead and finish the tables before closing up shop. Two coats of Semi-Gloss lacquer HVLP applied, scuffed in between coats and a skim coat of semi-gloss polyurethane on just the ribbon panels to protect them from modern living. The poly needed to cure out for at least 8 hours, so the timing worked out great. This morning I needed to start the day off by buying a new water pump for the truck and having a mechanic put it on for me. When I got back I carted in all the packaging supplies from the lumber shed and went to work on preparing them for shipment. A couple of years ago we decided that we sell enough of these tray tables to be worth having custom boxes made up for them. They take a pretty big box, and not a size you run across out behind the A&P. Since we ship these UPS we need to be careful not to step over the size limitation line. So, we designed a box that is just big enough to safely accommodate the Classic Tray table set and it’s packaging, yet *just* inside the limit to stay out of the really expensive shipping class. If we step over the line I can send them cheaper by truck than by UPS. But the box company won’t run off just a couple dozen custom made boxes for someone – they need to sell at least one full skid of flattened out boxes at a time – several hundred boxes. So we have enough to last a few years. But then we designed these heavy duty tray tables… they are the same basic dimensions, overall, but the parts are heavier, thicker. So when you stack four of them on a stand, the package is about 3 inches deeper… too deep to fit into our custom tailored boxes. So, we break up the set and send the parts in two boxes. All four tables get strapped together with cello twine with Styrofoam padding in key areas and laid into one box. The other box contains just the stand. But even at that the stand doesn’t quite fit inside, so we remove one screw from each arm, pivot them parallel to the frame and strap the arm and removed screw in place. You will need a #2 Phillips head screwdriver to put the two screws back in place and secure the arms. Nothing but these two screws is removed completely, the arms are still held in place by one screw each. Just swing them up and insert the missing screw. Being in two boxes also confuses the shopping cart software, which is not especially smart about such things. But then, this same shopping cart is expected to calculate shipping costs on everything from a pair of bag handles to a set of tray tables. Anything larger than the tray tables will have to go by truck, and the cart can not handle those computations at all (yet – we’re working on that). The cart takes the weight which is generated by adding up the weights of all the pieces-parts used to build the thing, plus the assigned packaging materials and plugs that into UPS’s internet based rate calculator with the customer’s address information to come up with an estimated cost. But the on-line UPS calculator used for this does not ask about size, so oversize (OS-1) fees are extra. Shipping an order in two boxes is extra. Shipping two oversize boxes is extra, extra. See what I’m getting at? If we offered just one product, we cold set up a flat rate table of shipping fees to the various parts of the country (or world, as we have shipped our work to Hawaii, Canada, Ireland and Australia). But we don’t, so we can’t. We have considered just adding an averaged shipping cost to the product price, then flagging everything as Free Shipping! (You didn’t *really* think those folks who offer always free shipping just absorb that cost did you?) But that would penalize folks who live within a couple of states of Tennessee by making them pay inflated shipping fees resulting from shipping to California, Oregon, Texas and Florida – which we do quite often – thus raising the average cost. Would that be fair? Would you care if you didn’t know? Is that being dishonest? I once bought a credit card machine. They charged me $65.00 for the machine and $45.00 for shipping. I was appalled! Yet if they had charged me $100.00 for the machine and $10.00 for shipping I’d have been fine with that. Some of my customers seem to feel the same way, judging from comments I’ve received lately. Would you? The bottom line is that under the current situation, on an order like this, where the shopping cart calculated only half of the shipping cost we have to add an extra fee to the final payment. If you want to contact us and have us run a manual cost for you we can do that. But, even then the cost will change if your order is not an On Hand order that will be shipped out in a day or two. If you’re on the production queue for two or three months and the fuel costs keep sky rocketing, shipping costs *will* go up. I noticed on todays shipments that UPS has begun adding a Residential Delivery Surcharge just like the trucking companies do. That’s disappointing. But because we bill you ONLY for what they bill us in shipping costs, no mark up; no slush fund to work out of, what they bill us is what we need to bill you. If you’d prefer we hid those charges inside the product cost and offered “Free” shipping, please let me know; I’d be very interested in your opinions. Time to go. Tomorrow I get started on Warren’s Nanny Rocker. Well, actually it’s for his daughter so she can help care for her soon-to-arrive baby sister. See you then! Doug

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