(NerdWallet) – You placed an order last week and still have not received the shipping confirmation. Or maybe the package is in transit, but its location hasn’t been updated in days.
The supply chain issues that experts warned us about as the holiday shopping season approaches have materialized. It is quite possible that your gifts will not arrive in time for the holiday season. So what are your options?
If you still want the gift
Check the order status
Retailers and carriers are overloaded during the peak holiday season and can simply be slow to provide updates. Be patient and wait another day or two, if you can. There is a good chance that the package will be on the move and will arrive on time.
If you are concerned, call or email the retailer’s customer service department. A representative may be able to share more details about your order online or work with you to find a solution. For example, if it turns out that your item got lost in the rework, maybe the seller will return it at an expedited shipping speed.
You can also try to contact the carrier directly. âIf it’s actually a transit, the retailer will probably have about as much information as you do. Once he leaves them, it’s really in the hands of that transport provider at that point, âsays G. Tony Bell, assistant professor in the supply chain management department at Rutgers Business. School.
Configure follow-up alerts
Buyers can use apps like Delivery or AfterShip to track packages from multiple retailers or carriers in one place, says Jane Boyd Thomas, professor of marketing at Winthrop University in South Carolina. You can also configure notifications to receive automatic order updates.
What if you receive a delivery notice but can’t see the package? âBefore you start backing up, ask your neighbors,â Thomas says. If it is still not found, follow up with the retailer or shipping service.
Give a reserved space
If it looks like the gift won’t arrive on time, consider a creative back-up plan. Write a description of the gift on a card or print out a photo and place it in a gift-wrapped box, âkind of like an IOU that’s coming,â Thomas says. This way, the recipient always has the experience of opening a gift, even if the item is not physically present.
Is your gift more of the instant gratification type? Get a bonus gift to keep them until the package arrives. Bell suggests something smaller or cheaper than the original gift.
Either way, be upfront about the situation. It’s important to set expectations, “especially with kids, who may not be so open to something alternative or different,” says Bell.
If you don’t want the gift anymore
Choose a replacement
If the order gets messed up or the wait isn’t worth the hassle, you might be better off ditching the original idea altogether. You can get a thoughtful new gift even if you don’t have time to ship something else. Reliable last-minute options include an electronic gift card or booking an experience, like a camping trip or a spa day.
If you prefer to give something tangible, Thomas recommends that you shop at local small businesses. âA lot of them will have great gift ideas for you that you haven’t even thought of. So you’re not just going to get a gift, you’re probably going to have something, hopefully, even more unique, âshe says.
Retailers large and small can hold sales on Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas. Prepare to shop or pick up store orders to get discounted gifts on hand by the holidays.
Cancel or return the item
You can usually cancel an order that hasn’t been processed or shipped and get a full refund. But even if you miss the cancellation period, you can probably return the item after it arrives.
Many retailers have extended their vacation return policies. However, some articles or categories may be excluded. For example, Macy’s has a 90-day return window for most items, but a 14-day window for Apple products and tech accessories.
Check retailer websites for policy details. Read the fine print carefully to make sure you understand the terms and deadlines.
Take a 14 day return policy, for example. “Does that mean the day he leaves their warehouse?” Is this when the 14 day return window begins to run? Is that the day he leaves there, or is that the day he shows up at your door? Thomas said.
You will also need to be very careful with things like whether you can return the item to the store instead of sending it back, and whether you will be refunded to the original payment method or store credit. If something isn’t clear, call the retailer or use the online chat feature to ask questions, Thomas says.
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