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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Purchasing PCs and Components | Delivery Methods and Issues ]

Security Issues

When deciding on a method of shipment, the tradeoff is primarily between cost and speed: spend more and you get the item more quickly; spend less and it takes more time. Most of the time these are the only issues most people need to consider. However, especially when ordering more expensive or more fragile items, you also need to consider some security factors related to how you have your shipment sent. For most people, a new PC definitely falls into the category of "expensive and fragile".

The first point is that it is not unheard of for items to be lost or damaged while they are being delivered. It also seems to make sense that the more time an item spends in the process of being delivered, the more opportunity there is for the package to be lost, dropped or damaged. For this reason, some people (including myself at times) will pay extra to have expensive items sent more quickly even if time is not of the essence.

A related issue is the matter of ground shipping as opposed to air shipping. If the item is being sent from far across the country, it is going to be exposed to a lot of bumps and bangs over the several days it takes to send the item. Air shipping means you get the package faster, and it is exposed to a few less bruises in the process. If I order something small, expensive and fragile like a hard disk drive or a digital camera, I always get it sent air unless the vendor (or their warehouse)  is located within a couple hundred miles of my home.

If you think you are not going to be present at the time the package is delivered, there's another security issue you have to watch out for. In some cases, the delivery company will just put the box on your front doorstep and leave! That might be fine if you are going to be home from work at 6:00 pm the night of the delivery. It's not fine if the box is going to arrive when you are on vacation for a week. And some people have had boxes "disappear" from their front door steps if they have been left there for even a few minutes.

To avoid these problems, you can insist that the vendor require the delivery company to obtain a signature when delivering the package. Just realize that the flip side of this is that you may have trouble getting the package at all if nobody is ever at home during the day when deliveries are made. You might end up having to go to the delivery company's local office to get the package. An alternative is having the item delivered to your place of business, if your employer allows this.

Note: When you order something by catalog or online, the company is responsible for getting it to you in good condition. You are not responsible for lost shipments or for the item not showing up unless it is due to your own actions. Do not let salespeople try to convince you to pay for "insurance" or extra costs that are the vendor's responsibility. See this section for help dealing with lost packages.

Next: Weather Impact On Long Shipments

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