We're fully back in action after a hair-raising series of horrific snafus during this most recent round of sales and shipping. Let me run through them for you:
- before I get into this, let me say that this is not written in anger. I am mad that I could not ship things out as fast as I have in the past, but mainly, I wanted to relate "two weeks in the life of an independent business owner" to you.
- also, the combined shipping refunds are coming this week.
- this is going to be long.
- I moved out of my house on March 1st, the house I have lived in for the last decade. Now when I say this, I mean my physical self moved from the house, but my stuff was still there. Some of it. Some of it is in storage. You ever moved FAST? The second after you say "I'm putting this here so I won't forget where I put it", you A) will forget and B) it will be in the ABSOLUTE DEEPEST LAST BIN-BOX YOU FIND.
- the most recent order of stuff needed to be shipped somewhere, so I had them mailed to an associate's house.
- The order was gigantic - the biggest one for Toyfinity yet. 41 boxes!!!! Took three total days to process and catalog.
- Due to some wacky madness, I had to move the entire inventory from where it had been shipped to a storage area in the space of about three hours. Total weight of the order was over 600 lbs.
- had the biggest bitch of a time getting internet access in my new shipping and receiving location. They make these things that are supposed to like, you know, give you the ability to access the internet on your computer and stuff...turns out my ultimate villain was an anti-virus program on the computer which was just turned off and not uninstalled as was previously thought. So, two weeks of "why isn't this router giving me internet? Yes, I deleted all of the anti-virus software. What do you mean Kapersky is still in the directory structure? WHERE'S THE UNINSTALL?" delayed the shipping to everyone. Thanks to HeWhoKnowsAboutComputers for the assist(s).
- oops! Moved out of the house but had no shipping materials with me. Another trip back to the old homestead where my stuff was living - but not me (its all moved out now, again solely by me and Ms. Nova). Pack a car full of packing materials and then back to the storage area.
- PAYPAL: FOR THE LOVE OF EVERY DEITY POSSIBLE, WORK OUT YOUR MULTI-ORDER SHIPPING ISSUES (and shipping issues in general). The aforementioned inability to get the internet through the computer that has served me dutifully since 2010 meant I couldn't just say "ah well, no one gets boxes." I pulled a computer from yet another friend and put that into service. So, that meant:
- installing my label printer on that computer.
- installing my heavy-duty non-label printer on that computer.
- and my "insert profanity here" "favorite", JAVA UPDATES!
- Oh yeah, MULTI-ORDER SHIPPING. So PayPal and USPS teamed up to work together - since PayPal crushed every single payment processor that meant anything back when eBay bought them. In spite of this, they don't actually work together on anything, seemingly. Here's something funny for you - do you live in a "court"? I used to. If you abbreviate your legal address as "Ct.", PayPal recognizes it...but USPS DOES NOT. Er, sometimes.
Now, how would you choose to let some poor idiot who has to ship four-hundred plus boxes out to his customers know this?
- give him a message that says "this address is not formatted per USPS guidelines".
- give him a message that says "PayPal shipping is not available. Sorry for the inconvenience."
- give him a message that says "Please add funds to your PayPal account. USPS shipping could not complete this transaction."
We had the sale on the 23rd of March. Stock was moved to storage on the 24th. I was ready to go with the computer on 26th. There was a convention in Massachusetts on the 29th which I had already paid for my table for and had to be at, along with some related business that had to happen on the 28th that involved a stuffed-to-capacity Uhaul van. So I had ONE DAY to ship as many boxes as possible.
On the 26th and 27th, I packed like a madman, having over 100 boxes ready to go. Printer is installed on new computer. I choose those boxes in Multi-Order Shipping, which I have used multiple times before...and cue the error messages. I have the funds from the entirety of the last sale in my account from PayPal, so that error message does not make sense. I'm going through Google answers and PayPal answers and there's evidence that maybe it is down for everyone. Maybe it is....so I start going through them ONE BY ONE. That seems to work. That's when I get the message about the address formatting. So, a person doesn't know how to write their own address? It is mind-boggling that one person ships one package to me at this point.
In the end, I worked it out, but it's something that can totally smack you if you aren't prepared for it.
- came out of the house with three trash bags full of packages, drove over to the post office, and someone next to me is furiously pointing at my car and making the "roll down window" motion. Yep, flat tire!!!!
I'm proud to say the orders from that first night for US-based customers are all shipped now.
The rest of the US orders that came in after are being worked on, as well as the non-US orders. Hoping to have them out today. It's been a real trip to work through this round! But I'm super happy (even with the journey above) and enjoying the reactions you've shared with me as you've received the items.
Ah, and one other thing:
More on the Knight later this week after the shipping is finished!
AND FINALLY -
THANK ALL OF YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.