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Shipping Quotes

Posted by Caroline on

We launched this webite a couple of weeks ago with temporary shipping quote calculations for our Australian customers.

Most of the prices provided came from the generic Aus Post plug-in; they're not the greatest rates and we don't actually use Australia Post for anything but the occassional international order. But it was that or delay the launch for an indefinate period of time.

We were waiting on Startrack (who basically IS Aus Post in a different guise) to provide a new API key for the Aus Post plug-in which was meant to magically make our own Startrack rates appear as options for you all.

Not surprisingly, but incredibly frustratingly, this didn't eventuate. It took two months, changing our contract with them, changing My Parrot Shop's entire dispatch system (Did your parcel seem to take longer than normal to be sent? The new dispatch system is the reason why.), and many phonecalls and emails to Startrack/AusPost employees all over Australia, to finally get to the "Whoops, sorry, we can't actually provide you with real-time shipping quotes on your website" stage.

Not that the "Whoops, sorry" part was included.

Well, anyway, I have now completed building my own Startrack shipping quotes into the website, and disengaged the Aus Post Plug-In. Hooray!

But before I continue... a brief pictorial interlude. We started out with Aus Post, then used Fastway for a while untill finally finding the courier Australian Air Express (who were awsome).

A year into our relationship they joined with Startrack Express (who we didn't like)

To become

(who we considered so/so)

Which is now:

(who we have lots of expletives for, but stick with, because the other options for our freight needs are still awful)

Interlude over.

I have updated our Shipping and Returns page to reflect the new shipping options provided as well as noting when it might be worth contacting us for a 'better' shipping quote. I'll repeat it here so you don't have to go clicking about the place to find out, though it will be in the more long-winded format (this is a blog afterall)

All Australian Suburbs (of which there are about 17,000) are placed into four zones in our calculator. These zones are for our Fixed Price Premium rates for which there is a 1kg, 3kg, 5kg, 10kg and 20kg option. These options are perfect for orders up to 5kg all over Australia, which covers most of our orders. At around the 10kg mark things get a little tricky and that's when it is sometimes better to send using the Startrack Premium (fast) rates or the Startrack Express (slow) rates. Unfortunately the zones used for these rates are completely different from the zones used for the Fixed Price rates. Not to mention that one postcode can cover several different suburbs with each suburb falling into a different zone.

Just a quick example: PostCode 0822 has 102 different suburbs assigned to it (!), some of which must be islands or something, and the charge per kilo ranges from $1.86 to $42.00. It's a nightmare.

Anyway, the upshot of it is I had to 'average' out some of the zone shipping quotes. This means there will be the occassional postcode that gets lucky and charged much less than it actually costs us to ship the parcel, but it also means there will be some postcodes that get charged more.

For orders under 20kg the cost difference is generally not worth quibbling over but after that... well if it seems outrageous to you, you're probably in one of those tricky post codes and I suggest you contact us for a 'better' quote. The fastest way to make it work is to complete the checkout with the 'dubious' quote, and write a note asking for the shipping cost to be checked. You can either pay then and get a credit or refund for the difference, or select a non-instant payment method (bank transfer or credit card over the phone) and wait for the adjusted invoice total before deciding to proceed with the order.

So, yeah.

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