What the heck is Egg Saver Shipping?


— 11:25 PM on February 19, 2009

I'm a big fan of Newegg. As one of the biggest online retailers for PC components and accessories, it's received my business for six years now. The prices are some of the best around, the customer service is friendly, and thanks to my close proximity to their Southern California location, I generally receive things pretty quickly—at least, I used to. But we'll get to that shortly.

When I first started using Newegg some time in 2003, I thought I had found the greatest online retailer in existence. Not only could I get a good deal on PC hardware, but thanks to its FedEx Super Saver default shipping method, I'd generally receive my purchases within a day—two at the most. When picking between online stores at the time, Newegg was an easy choice.

Just a couple of years later, Newegg made a change to their baseline shipping option. UPS Ground became the default carrier, and while many immediately noticed a difference, my propinquity to Newegg's warehouse ensured that I still received my orders in a timely manner. My only real complaint about UPS is that it didn't handle packages with as much care as FedEx. Boxes were usually delivered in a slightly more abused state than I was used to, but the contents were still fine. I never had reason to complain. Newegg would generally use far more packing materials than necessary (even for very small purchases) resulting in boxes that could seemingly be crushed by a truck and still have the product inside escape unscathed.

Unfortunately, Newegg recently switched to a new standard shipping method. It's called Egg Saver Shipping, and I've already sworn not to use it again. To explain why I'm frustrated with the service, I need to retrace the journey of a recent order.

A few weeks ago, I needed to make a purchase from Newegg—4GB  of notebook RAM, to be specific. Having not used Egg Saver Shipping before, and never being concerned about Newegg's shipping options in the past, I didn't give the method a second thought. I placed my order on Sunday evening, expecting my package would be picked up on Monday morning, sorted that evening, and put on a truck for delivery on Tuesday. After all, it's only a 30-mile journey from Newegg's warehouse to my front door.

However, Wednesday night soon rolled around, and I still didn't have my RAM. Like any curious customer, I went to Newegg's website and pulled up my tracking number, only to become even more confused. On Monday, the product was picked up from Newegg's warehouse by DHL, and by that evening it was at DHL's sorting center. I initially thought that odd, as I was under the impression that DHL suspended all domestic operations.

On Tuesday morning, my RAM was driven in the opposite direction of my house to the U.S. Postal Service in Carson, California. On Wednesday night, I still had no update on the tracking number. My purchase was somewhere in the USPS' army of mail carriers—that's all I knew. Thankfully, I received the RAM on Thursday afternoon, after traveling more than double the distance of the direct path between myself and Newegg. What happened? It turns out that Egg Saver shipping relies on two different parcel carriers: DHL and USPS. DHL picks up outgoing packages from Newegg, and transports them to an appropriate USPS sorting center. Afterward, it's at the mercy of USPS until it gets to your front door. The package changing hands added at least a day to the delivery in my case, and USPS is just generally slow.

Of course, 4 days is right within the 3-5 days that Egg Saver Shipping quoted me for my order. So why am I complaining? Maybe I've been spoiled by receiving items so quickly, despite using only the least expensive shipping option. But for me at least, that was one of Newegg's primary appeals. If I've got to start paying more to receive packages in a timely manner, I might as well hop in my car and drive 20 minutes to my closest Fry's, or start buying from other retailers that might have slightly higher prices but better shipping methods.

I also took issue with the disappointing manner in which my order was packed. The two sticks of RAM were simply tossed in a media mailer envelope and handed to DHL—very much unlike the carefully packed orders I used to receive from Newegg. All right, maybe it isn't efficient to pack a couple sticks of RAM in a box with a mountain of styrofoam peanuts like they did in the past, but at least I knew my purchases were safe. I have no doubt that simply stepping on the envelope would have been enough to damage the RAM, and I have to wonder what other products are getting shipped in the same way.

If you think I'm being unfair to Newegg, simply put "egg saver shipping" into Google, and you'll find that I'm not the first person to take issue with the service. Some customers report DHL transporting packages well past the destination in order to get to a distribution center, only for USPS to backtrack for delivery—sometimes across multiple state lines.

Why is Newegg employing a method that requires packages to change hands, anyway? Why can't USPS pick up orders from Newegg directly, instead of relying on DHL to ferry the package from Newegg's dock to a USPS sorting center? How does adding another carrier to the mix make it any easier for the involved parties—merchant, shippers, or customers?

Regardless of the explanation, there's really only one lesson to take away from Newegg's Egg Saver Shipping: pay more for a better option, or be prepared to wait. Perhaps the best tactic is to keep an eye on products that include free UPS Ground shipping and include one in your order. You might find it's less expensive than paying for the upgrade to UPS Ground for your entire order.

   
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