Small Business Shipping

Thompson Guitar & Thrift is an e-commerce store. You place a guitar parts order with us, we process the order and ship it to you.

A majority of the time, like 95%, we use a USPS product for shipping. They have great international shipping rates, and decent priority 2-day options. 

The biggest reason we use USPS? Guitar parts are small and lightweight. If you’re shipping anything under 1lb, USPS is the most affordable and reliable option. With their newly branded “Ground Advantage,” a business account pays from $4.00 to $9.00 to ship a package, depending on how much it weighs and the distance it has to travel from you.

These rates go up every year, which is a pain, but that’s what we have to deal with. Honestly, I’m amazed that they charge as little as they do, and can deliver within 5 days to any address in the US or US territories. It’s affordable and efficient, and they provide you tracking so you can keep a close eye on it. 

Our business offers free shipping, but another way to put it, we don’t charge an extra shipping charge at checkout. You can probably tell, the shipping cost is not free to the end user. It’s a baked-in cost that is carefully calculated based on the average ship-out rates that we have to pay. That means sometimes we have to withstand losses depending on the quantity of the order, weight and distance. 

It’s a massive cost for small e-commerce businesses, and figures heavily into the business model. In fact, when we've been forced to raise prices, it’s because of shipping rate increases, and not the actual cost of the guitar parts that we buy. That includes the Covid pandemic and recent high inflation period.

Now, let’s talk about shipping issues. This is where things with USPS get a little dicey. If you use Ground Advantage, your shipments are not insured (although you can buy extra insurance). What does this mean? If we (TG&T) use Ground Advantage without paying for extra insurance, we’re out of luck if the package gets lost. There’s often no recovering the package, and we’re not refunded.

Now, every business has the cost for this type of loss accounted for, but it still freaking sucks. We happily send out replacements or refund the buyer, but it makes for a tough situation for our customer.

These days, these issues are rare, thankfully. But they still happen. A couple of years ago, during the pandemic, we endured “Shippaggedon” , a perfect storm of holidays, cold weather events, and USPS leadership mis-management that left HUNDREDS of our packages stuck for about a month with no movement. It was an impossible situation all the way around. It eventually worked itself out, but not without our business absorbing substantial losses, and huge frustration to many of our customers.

Since then, we really haven’t had any real major issues. The bottom line is we’re lucky to have the USPS, and lucky that they handle small packages so efficiently and affordable.

Lastly, we (humbly) ask that when you buy from a small online business, please keep all of this in mind when it comes down to shipping. We’re just as accountable for shipping issues as Amazon and Wal-Mart, but we don’t have near the resources or capital that they do. Small business can be measured, in some sense, by the way they handle shipping issues and do right by their customers.

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