Free Shipping - Be Careful!

I want to let our community know that we need to be careful when making purchases and accepting “free shipping”.  Here is the story, I recently ordered a set of KT150s from TubeDepot. I was offered free shipping. I accepted it and wrongly assumed (mistake: never assume) that they would use a reliable shipping carrier to ship their expensive, fragile glass vacuum tubes. A reliable carrier to me, IMO and personal experience means either FedEx (my preference) OR UPS. Did TubeDepot do that? No! They shipped with USPS. The problem is that the tracking number isn’t working. Their is no documentation that USPS took possession of the package. While TubeDepot has a nicely written page describing USPS’ problems they still use them and this information is not readily available on their website. If I had this information at checkout I would have chosen FedEx and paid for it. I suggested to them that they should put a link to this information right on the checkout page where buyers are going to choose their shipping. I think this transparency would empower buyers to make an informed decision, take ownership of that decision, and save the vendor a lot of time with back and forth emails about where the product is and why the tracking isn’t working. Bottom line: free shipping may be bad shipping. Don’t blindly assume that the free shipping method is good. Ask the vendor who they use for free shipping before making your purchase and act accordingly. 
Ag insider logo xs@2xkingbarbuda
So they haven't arrived yet? If not, you're just concerned about the inability to track I guess. I have to say, you will likely get a lot of blow-back from people who have had bad experiences with FedEx too. I'm one of them.  
@roxy54 No they have not arrived yet. I understand what you are saying about FedEx. That is your experience. But it has not been mine. The essence of what I am saying is that vendors should be transparent as to who they use for free shipping. They could say instead of just “free shipping”. They should say something like “Free USPS first class shipping” or “Free USPS Priority Mail”. Also post a link to their very informative page about the issues with USPS. Just share the info in an open and transparent way. So WE have all the info and can make our OWN informed decision as to who we want to ship our package. Everyone should be free to make their choice. But vendors need to provide us with the info. If they don’t. Then we should ask for it.
While I understand your frustration, I think TubeDepot is pretty upfront about the reason why they ship free via USPS (cost) , potential USPS problems and that you have options if uncomfortable with shipping via USPS

Home page provides a link at the top of the page to this specifically, and the link - see below - has full details including reference to the problem you are encountering

Main page page

FWIIW - FEDEX earnings call focused a lot on their own shipping problems caused by lack of staffing which are causing re-routing of shipments from optimum hubs to secondary ones increasing their ship times and costs.
Presently, there are issues with most delivery companies.  I have had no problems with USPS. They are pretty reliable.  If you were checking the USPS today, you will notice they are doing routine maintenance and some portions of the site won’t be accurate.  Just an FYI, free shipping is usually a slower method than if you pay .
Is this your first online purchase? If so, I can see the problem as one of over expectations. All the carriers have their good and bad. USPS is as reliable as any ime. But they lack a good tracking system. This is why USPS is often the cheapest carrier. Relax and be patient. 
For me USPS tracking has all ways been hit or miss. The tracking some time just disappears for several days at a time. I have had tracking tell me that my items is a state away then show up delivered the next day. Or say its at the main hub in my city and not deliver for 8 days after with no updates.
kingbarbuda OP335 posts09-26-2021 8:25am......The essence of what I am saying is that vendors should be transparent as to who they use for free shipping......
Kind of pointless, since the quality of service of the 3 major shippers varies widely from area to area.
I just checked tubedepot and they present a detailed explanation as to shipping USPS and clearly offer other shipping options if you prefer. Was this not present previously when you ordered? 
I prefer USPS. You are getting an easily replaceable product from a well know source. I'm sure you'll be happy and if there is a problem Tube Depot will take care of you. Relax and have a glass of wine until the mailman brings you your new tubes. 
Same here. For tubes USPS is one of the better handlers. As far a tracking, I’ve just learned to be patient, more so with USPS.

FedEx and UPS both have better minute to minute tracking. Both are equally rough on package handling though.

I just sent 16 valves via UPS ground. I triple boxed, double bubbled a 12 x 12 x 14 box with red stickers all over it, "Glass", "Fragile" and 500.00 worth of insurance. 73.00. I almost passed out.. "UPS GROUND".  I should have ask what next day would have been. Over 300.00?

I can remember shipping Greyhound. Remember that?

Be of good cheer.  There be there in no time.

The Christmas rush will be soon enough.

The fastest year so far, "The YEAR that was not". :-)

To all:
1. The point of all of this is to give us choices for shipping and to let us know who their “free shipping carrier” is so it isn’t a mystery. 2. No. Ha Ha. This is far from my first online purchase. You just don’t understand the point of this thread despite that I have reiterated it now for the third time. 3. No. The messages about USPS were not at the checkout page when I placed my order. If they are there now, you are welcome.  Because prior to posting this thread I have been in frequent email exchange with TubeDepot about all this. So if you are seeing more robust and appropriately placed USPS info on their website then that is there as a result of my educating TubeDepot on this issue.
4. It was asserted above the performance of the shippers varies by region. Fine. In my region (Chicagoland) FedEx is best in my experience. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But this thread isn’t about that. It is once again, simply about advising all of us to check what some companies “free (mystery) shipping” actually is. You may be fine with what you learn. Alternatively, you may be disappointed.
5. some one above pointed out that FedEx has more robust or better or more frequent tracking. That is my preference. Frankly, if I was the vendor that would be my preference too. 
Ok. I have made my case and informed everyone. Perhaps TubeDepot has listened. Good. Perhaps other vendors will too. Mission accomplished. Have a good day. 
Party Pooper!!

I thought the point was to let you blow off a little steam.

The other point is MOST tube shippers use USPS, just so you know.
Most prefer the gentler handling..

6-10 days usually east coast to west coast. USPS.

To Chicago: gotta’ dodge those bullets, on the way in.. Package delivery with an armored personnel carrier takes a while..

Oakland, CA is VERY close..

BTW, YOUR WELCOME! From those brave delivery drivers. I'd rather be trying to get out of Afghanistan. Than deliver packages in either Chicago or Oakland..

@oldhvymec regarding Chicago agreed. We have the mayor, police chief, and cook county state’s attorney to thank for that. Personally, I think Chicago should have a curfew and the National Guard patrolling the streets in armored vehicles. Interestingly the murder capital of the US is still St. Louis in terms of #murders/100,000 population. The number one murder capital in the world is Los Cabo’s, Mexico. But this is for another thread on another platform. 
I am waiting for headphones shipped USPS and the tracking tells me they have been delivered. Ah no. Digging deeper on their page it says that the package has been delayed. Ah yes. With any luck it will show up tomorrow. 
Just assume free shipping is always USPS. USPS has been a disaster for me over the past year, lost well over $400 on various packages. Also, free USPS has minimum insurance, if items have any value, never use free shipping. Regardless of shipper make sure items insured for full value. I learned the hard way!
I will just throw this out there since others I feel are trying to invalidate my experience: Prepandemic I sent a headphone cable to Dan Clark Audio (Mr. Speakers at that time). USPS delivered it to the wrong address, could not track what happened and would not stand behind the loss. Fortunately, Dan Clark Audio were good sports. But my experience is USPS gives poor package service and there insurance is worth nothing. That is my experience. Your’s may be different. That’s fine. I reserve my right to use FedEx for my shipping and they have always treated me and my packages well and have given good professional service. 
@sns 1+ unless the vendor specifies what their free mystery surprise shipping is, DITTO!
Moral of the story, if the vendor offers you options for shipping, never cheap out and go with free shipping. At best your going to be waiting forever for your purchases to arrive. 

Just pay the 10 - 20 bucks and have some peace of mind.
If you were offered free shipping, and who the shipper might be was important to you, why wouldn't you just ask?
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@jdane there were two mistakes made: 1. Mine. I didn’t ask who the free ship vendor was. 2. Theirs; they should mention who the free shipping vendor is. 
From my experience I would rank UPS at the top, USPS next, FedEx the last. FedEx screwed things up so many times in my current address for me. I don't remember any bad experience with them before. So I guess it depends..
@carlsbad. Wrong. I posted three things: 1. A tip for vendors to disclose who their free shipping is and 2. That we buyers would be well advised to ask who the free shipping service is, if the vendor neglects to disclose it. 3. My *opinion* (not fact) regarding my preference based on my personal real life experience for shipping service. As I have stated before if you like another service. Great.

Also Jerry what you are stating above in your second paragraph is also your *opinion*. Not a fact.
Regarding your third paragraph: Agreed. But I don’t want that hassle. If I had known that TubeDepot’s mystery surprise shipping was USPS I would have gladly paid for FedEx. Please read that again. Thanks.
Regarding your 4th paragraph: Agreed. But I contend that they should disclose who they want to use. I am not contesting their right to choose the shipper. I just want it disclosed before I submit my order so I can pick another shipper if I don’t like who they use for their free shipping.
I hope this is finally clear. No good turn goes unpunished.
"...You just don’t understand the point of this thread despite that I have reiterated it now for the third time..."

I recant my previous posting...perhaps two glasses of wine is in order. 
I have used all three and even when there have been problems or damage I have always been covered and reimbursed. Maybe I am just one of the lucky ones. Anyway, I suggest that you always keep accurate information and take pictures of your packing process and use insurance when necessary. Be professional and stick to the facts when making a claim. The people handling your complaints are there to help you and not your adversary. Kindness and understanding go a long way when dealing with customer service personnel. 
Just finished a deal in Hawaii. Delivered in three days! All good. My experience to date.👍🏻
If purchased with a credit card, the burden is on the seller. If the item fails to deliver or is damaged, the c.c. company should be notified via a dispute. 
I have used USPS Express Mail extensively for delicate and expensive items (photographic lenses) and have never had an issue. UPS and FedEx, particularly UPS is quite a different story.
On the TubeDepot checkout page for shipping it 1st lists 5 FEDEX shipping options from the most expensive FEDEX option to its the cheapest , that being ground. Right after the FEDEX ground option it lists 2 USPS options. Right after the 2nd "paid" USPS option it lists Free Shipping on Qualified Offers. After that it lists 2 UPS options.

It would seem that it is pretty clear that FEDEX isn’t a free shipping option that they offer. Now , maybe one could argue that it leaves one to believe that it is possibly UPS since the free option is noted between the USPS and UPS options; but with USPS being the cheapest cost options they probably feel that it is intuitive that free = USPS.

And, again if one reads their link about USPS shipping problems it clearly states that the free option is USPS
I have used Tube Depot for years and I'm a very happy customer. The last time I ordered, Michelle strongly suggested that I use the fedex option, even though I was only buying one tube. IIRC, they even mention it on the website.



I understand your post and your point, thanks. 

Opinions on delivery services vary greatly, which is not surprising. I depend on the seller offering shipping to consider these risks. It would be difficult to get me to pay for an undelivered or damaged package. (I’m sure I’d feel differently if it was a rare product or a time sensitive situation.)

Hope your tubes arrive safely.
The point of the post is that all three mailing companies suck and that Amazon should sell tubes so that we can get it the same day and return without any hassle. Bam!
An undelivered package won't be covered by credit card company if seller can prove they shipped. Doesn't cover delivery services.
Echoing numerous preceding accounts - 
I've had poor experiences with USPS, UPS and FedEx related to -  misplaced/lost items, late deliveries, damaged parcels and delivering parcels w/o my signature (required) while saying falsely I had signed.
UPS and FedEx blamed their sub-contract delivery agents.
Unacceptable sign-of-the-times.
The waiting can be stressful yes I understand but if you paid for perceived better shipping the package may be delayed, arrive damaged or get lost. All the tubes I’ve bought over the years were shipped using usps and arrived just fine. Delays and damages from all shipping companies are bound to increase during the holiday shipping season as well. I just sent back an amp FedEx obviously dropped and damaged contents. Hit or miss during these sick weird times 😷.  I don’t drink alcoholic beverages anymore I take CBD and smoke a bowl I do to calm and relax me old bones and enjoy the music. Hope your tubes arrive soon
Like many others, I have had the best luck with USPS.  From my experience UPS has been the worst in terms of badly roughed up boxes with holes and tears in them upon arrival.  Sometime, just watch how the UPS truck drives through your neighborhood.  That is also how they handle your shipped boxes. If you are shipping anything fragile, always go with USPS Priority and pay the extra.
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I returned a set of 6550EH that blew out to Viva Tubes. They sent me a return code for USPS and gave me a full credit for the tubes in 2 days. A good experience.  I believe USPS is cheaper and that is why they are able to give free shipping. I have no experience with Tube Depot.
Some areas have a service you can sign up for called USPS Informed Delivery, which can provide better tracking details. USPS abandoned their app but you can sign up on their website.
Some FedEx shipping will get handed off to USPS for final delivery. It must be cost saving but it’s definitely confusing for the recipient.
FWIW I prefer USPS, the packages arrive in much better condition than with the other shippers. Free shipping is good!
I've ordered quite a few tubes from many different venders and they all used USPS, free or not, never had a problem.
Having just finished building a new house, I've had well over 100 shipments in the last year from every carrier imaginable, from a few ounces to hundreds of pounds. My experience is that the 'last mile' carrier is the biggest variable. You may specify one carrier, only to have another actually deliver the package. Amazon may ship via their own logistics to a local hub then use USPS (weekend deliveries!), UPS, or FedEx for local delivery. Amazon, UPS, and FedEx may use independent local delivery contractors as well. Point being, any of them may be wonderful or terrible for any given delivery. Covid may be the latest 'dog ate my homework' excuse, but the fact is it has strained our entire logistics infrastructure to an unimaginable extent. It is a dancing bear - the miracle is not that it dances well, but that it dances at all.
Never had a single issue with DHL over many shipments over many years. I used them for all my domestic shipments when they experimented with that service in US. I have account with them, recently received email in regard to domestic shipping within US. Wonder if they're going to reenter that market? DHL best IME.
At least eight major credit cards offer a/some cards with purchase protection. There are caveats, but it may be worth looking into if you make online purchases, etc. 

I read it in a US News and World Report article, FYI. (It has to be true, haha)
Here’s as update: I spoke to Michelle at TubeDepot earlier this week. Very nice and knowledgeable, as usual. While USPS has no record of my 8 matched Tung Sol KT 150s being received by them, she notes that they have been shipped. I have not received them yet. Apparently USPS’ issues are in multiple areas of the US. Just this week, our CBS Chicago evening news had a piece regarding poor security at the USPS. Something about them not keeping good enough track of keys that open mailboxes. During the winter there  were media pieces on packages piling up and not getting processed. Anyway, it may take longer than usual to receive the tubes. But if I don’t Michelle gave me confidence that she will take care of things. She also did mention that she sent my suggestions for their website to their IT people. Meanwhile, she mentioned that they are now back ordered (as of when I spoke to her) on the KT 150s. 
Yes, USPS major problems at Allen Park Michigan facility last winter, many news stories of trucks filled with mail sitting for 24 hours and more waiting to be unloaded. Sorting machines being removed from various USPS facilities have been responsible for slow downs.
I have clam shell mailbox for my neighborhood, forget about resolution of lost package if your package misplaced in someone else's box!
And then USPS and customs, forget about it! I purchased Technics SP10 MKII few years ago, from Australia, shipped via Australian Post, transferred to USPS upon arrival here. Received the turntable pronto, power supply package lost in Chicago USPS customs for well over two months. Had to purchase another power supply here in US, suddenly Australian power supply shows up, no notification, no tracking! I purchase items from Canada periodically, USPS shipping time all over the place, sometimes may get package shipped from same vendor in few day, other times up to two weeks.

USPS sucks for me, I always pay for upgrade service if item value more than $100. If I had one positive, never received damage package from them, only no package.
Shipping is definitely a minefield, and everyone has their own horror stories to contribute. What we have to keep in mind is that shipping companies are not monoliths, but are made up of real people, and therein lies the rub. Most are conscientious and do their best not to cause damage to the goods that move through their purview, while there are some that seem not to give a damn. Most of us would probably agree that the secret lies in the packing of the product, and if that is done correctly with aforethought, even rough handling during transit will not be an issue (for the most part). This is one of the downsides to the demise of brick-and-mortar stores, where we bought each piece and then lovingly loaded it into our vehicle for the trip home. With price increases for shipping looming on the 2022 horizon, I have taken an oath to limit my purchases of any large heavy items (say, over 20 pounds). I live within a relatively short distance of three fairly large metropolitan areas and can usually find what I need stereo gear-wise in one of those cities, either on Audiogon, US Audio Mart, or CL.