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Shipping Service Update: June 11th 2021

Posted on 27th Jan 2021 @ 11:20:10 AM

Please note that this article doesn't include day by day updates. Please see this thread for current status of orders, shipping, etc.. 

 

Update: June 11th 2021

Hermes is being handled via Spring GDS (as we don't have a direct account with Hermes) but this has been creating a delay of about 2-3 working days before tracking information becomes available and obviously delivery speed is slower than a direct service. This is why it's being offered as an economy service.

 

Update: May 28th 2021

We've noticed a substantial increase in delivery speed for some International services as airlines flight numbers have increased resulting in increases postal/courier capacity which is welcome but still depends on numerous political decisions. We're not out of the woods yet but things, for now have been better.

 

Update: May 15th 2021

We have completed a major overhaul of our shipping options to streamline the number of services and provide a clearer indication of service speed as a grading between Economy (slower, often untracked) and Express (much faster, fully tracked).

Addiitonally we have streamlined the services that appear based on a weighting system so a limited number of services will appear rather than every potentially available service. 

The full range of service providers is now enabled as well including:

  • Hermes : Economy
  • Royal Mail: Economy -> Priority (UK & International)
  • Spring (GDS): Economy -> Priority (International)
  • Asendia: Priority -> Express (International)
  • DHL Parcel: Priority (UK)
  • DPD: Priority -> Express (UK & International)
  • DHL Express: Express (International)
  • Fedex: Priority -> Express (International)

You will only ever see a maximum of four shipping options based on reliability, price and the grade of service available.

The main improvement beyond the underlying system is that we have now restored use of Asendia for a number of International destinations including the USA and Australia and we would strongly recommend the use of this service for those countries where speed is important vs' budget. 

 

 

 

Update: May 10th 2021

  • Royal Mail has continued to cause issues following new equipment used to process Large Letter items. Delays of up to a week have been common place for some areas.
  • Hermes has as a result become a defacto replacement for low value orders. It's slow but tracking is providing some reassurance that orders are being received.
  • International services are showing continued effects from Covid with orders taking upwards of 6-8 weeks to reach Australia, 5 weeks for the USA but inconsistency is rife.
  • DHL Express, DPD and DHL Parcel continue to perform excellently.

  • We are now preparing for the changes in EU import VAT rules that come into effect from July 1st.

 

Update: Apr' 4th 2021

  • Most of our services are now performing relatively well although delays across the board are evident due to Covid and particulalry for International postal routes where the effects on airline cargo capacity are particularly evident.
  • Hermes performance is being reviewed and compared to Royal Mail for low value items within the UK. A decision on suitability is expected sometime mid-April.
  • DPD International services have now been operating as they should have after resolving the confusion regarding prohibited goods. Some EU Countries no longer accept our refill bundles due to their contents including syringes.
  • Royal Mail is improving but treatment of Large Letter items as low priority has caused frustration and confusion for some time now.

Update: Mar 27th 2021

Our trial of Hermes has been put on hold briefly while we work out some bugs on our store system and wait for a couple of teething issues to be resolved.

Update: Mar 11th 2021

We are now preparing to offer Hermes packet and parcel services for UK customers on a trial basis and will be strictly limited to low value orders.
ETA: weekend 13th/14th March

 

Update: Mar 3rd 2021

A bug in our Spring Global shipping module meant that customers in Ireland were not getting quotes for the lower cost services at all. We have since fixed the issue and Spring Global services are now being offered correctly. Apologies for the inconvenience caused.

 

Update: Feb 24th 2021

DPD quietly released an amended Prohibited export list of customs codes that are not allowed for various countries in the EU. This update wasn't announced so we've only just caught it, however it now indicates that DPD will now accept ink products BUT not anything including syringes/needles, so ink sets should be acceptible via DPD, but refill bundles/tool sets will not.

 

Update: Feb 23rd 2021

Following significant work on the DPD shipping module we've tentatively started offering the DPD Classic (Road) service for EU/EEA customers. The system has been updated to identify products by their HS customs codes and screen out any orders that contain products/substances that are prohibited for transport by DPD in the target countries. (eg: Italy DPD won't accept inks). Customers shouldn't notice any errors directly but we may need to contact customers if an order involving ink or medical items (eg: Syringes) has managed to slip through for countries where DPD will simply reject them. Strangely enough these issues aren't affecting other services into those same countries so DHL Express and Spring are still available in these scenarios.

We are also reconnecting with Asendia following some constructive discussion about the last 2 months and mitigating action being taken. Services won't be enabled for some weeks but for some countries (particularly Australia) this may mean a faster service being available.

Additionally we've done work to tabulate the surcharges, fees, etc.. for the various shipping services here: Brexit & EU effects page

 

Update: Feb 20th 2021

We're happy to confirm that we've started offering the Spring Global service (Spring via the Checkout) with packet services for sub-2kg orders and parcel tracked for the larger items. It's taken a lot of work to get this integrated into the store and to ensure everything works but it's up and running at last.

As a result EU/EEA customers now have other options beyond DHL Express for shipping.

Please note, EU/EEA customers will be faced with customs fees and potentially import duty/taxes and we're gathering together as much information as we can to keep customers informed before they order. This is not yet ready though so it's up to customers to check with their customs department to work out what they may have to pay. 

 

Update: Feb 19th 2021

Many of our EU/EEA customers have noted the substantial shipping prices currently available for their orders and understandably, expressed concern at the high values quoted since early January 2021. We need to reiterate that the limits-on, and suspension-of, lower cost services was a direct result of numerous unsuccessful attempts to send using lower cost services such as DPD and Royal Mail immediately after Brexit (January 1st).

Thankfully we now have a much clearer picture of what will (and won't) work and the restrictions we've had in place for customers in the EU and EEA should be loosened over the coming days, resulting in substantially reduced shipping costs.

  • Finishing touches to the Spring Global shipping module are being completed today and the service should be available over the weekend.
  • We are also testing changes to the DPD International shipping module that should resolve the numerous returned/undelivered EU orders in January. 
  • We are in the process of writing a rough guide that lists the potential fees for customers in different EU countries so that there's at least some indication of what charges to expect from a courier and/or postal service.
  • For UK customers we are now tentatively testing some Hermes services to determine suitability for some products.

 

 

Previous Updates

 

Update: Feb 17th 2021

  • Spring Global is being tested with some consignments and we're looking to make this available as an option for shipping starting next week.
  • Some orders are being upgraded to the new services from economy alternatives.

Update: Feb 8th 2021

  • The Spring Global module is close to being complete and we expect the service to be available from the end of this week (approx Feb 12th).

Update: Feb 6th 2021

  • We've updated our Shipping Policy to improve the information we have and also explain some of the common issues that crop up, like free shipping.
  • Spring Global is pending a new shipping module being added to the store and final checks regarding EU regulations/restrictions
  • Our store shipping system is being updated to restrict some services for certain product types where shipping services and/or countries will not allow some products to be imported (ETA: tba)
  • Fixed issues that was blocking EU/EEA customers from seeing DHL Express services.

Update: Feb 4th 2021

  • DPD have finally communicated information that helped us identify the key problems with orders.
    • Some countries in the EU are no longer accepting Inks, Syringes and some other key products that we offer.
    • We believe the restrictions are specific to the DPD franchise operations in those countries and not country specific bans, but we're working to confirm this.
    • DPD's information sharing has been appalling and while improvements are promsed, we're considering their future with respect of our International orders.
  • A new shipping service through Spring Global will shortly be available, starting sometime after Feb' 10th 2021
  • Some products may still be barred from import for some customers, particularly syringes due to their potential for-human use so we're looking at how to negate the issues this presents.

 

Initial Post: January 28th 2021

Apologies to all our International customers for the lack of ordering opportunities since early January. This has been a direct result of the UK leaving the EU and the confusion that has followed. Almost every single courier and shipping service has hit problems and we have been struggling to resolve the issues ourselves.

The short version is this:

  • Customs procedures and systems are overwhelmed and rejecting submitted documents without reason or explanation.
  • Additionally customs checks are being applied over zealously by some EU customs departments, compared to those of non-EU countries.
  • Lack of feedback has left us (and other exporters) struggling to understand the problem(s) making it very difficult to fix them.
  • Despite this, we have been able to isolate most of the problems and successfully dispatch a number of packages. Unfortunately some are still being returned, again, without explanation.
  • We are still working to understand what fees and surcharges are likely to be charged to customers and how customers are being contacted to obtain payment (when appropriate).
  • EU Business customers require an EORI number to receive goods via couriers (DHL Express, DPD, ...) and our checkout system does not check for or validate this information yet.

Planned changes:

  • We are reopening all (except DPD) shipping options for non-EU countries by end of 28th January.
  • We are reopening DHL Express and Royal Mail services for the EU but with significant restrictions on the latter.
  • We are writing new functionality into our store to validate key information and also to provide clear guidance for EU customers before they can finalise an order.
  • We anticipate offering DHL Express, Fedex and Royal Mail services within the next few days.
  • DPD and Asendia are currently on hold until they make significant improvements in their information sharing and overall service reliability.
  • We are investigating other shipping/postal service options, particularly for small packet items like Printer Potty, etc..

Other, related information:

  • EU customers no longer pay UK VAT for physical goods (be careful as import duty/VAT may be apply and require payment before delivery).
  • We have updated our pricing for all our shipping services.
  • We have completely rewritten the DPD, DHL Express and DPD Parcel shipping modules and these now provide full pricing for all zones/countries covered, including surcharges being applied.
  • Various surcharges are in effect for shipping Internationally so prices are fluctuating as a result.
  • More updates and improvements to our shipping system will follow once we have received updates from Asendia

 

As you can imagine this is INCREDIBLY frustrating for everyone and we are working hard to resolve the various issues while also dealing with the various childcare, home schooling, covid-19 restrictions and even weather hurdles that keep being thrown up. We're getting there, slowly so a big thank-you to our customers who have shown immense restraint, patience and understanding throughout.

Martin