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Some vendors offer many more options for delivering your order than others do. More choices provide you with flexibility for trading off delivery speed against shipping cost, and more choice is always better than less choice. After all, sometimes you are in a hurry for an order, and sometimes you aren't. You only want to pay for what you need. For a full discussion of delivery methods, options and issues, see this section.
The best companies offer a range of delivery options, ranging from overnight delivery to fourth-class mail (though I certainly don't recommend the latter!) Smaller companies usually have fewer choices in terms of the number of carriers they use, and the smallest companies may only use a single carrier (often UPS). Some people, especially those in rural areas, have better success with some delivery services than others. I discuss carriers here.
If you are in a hurry to get your item, be sure to ask about overnight or second-day air delivery. Almost all larger companies will do this for you; of course you pay more for it. But some smaller companies may not offer faster delivery.
The opposite of this is the company that won't send an item slowly enough. Sounds strange, but it happens, and is in fact one of the "games" played by companies that overcharge for shipping. They will claim to have a "special deal" with a carrier and will send all orders overnight or by second-day air, whether you like it or not. Well, this "special deal" may in fact be the case, but all that matters to you, the customer, is the total cost. If the "special deal" means you get fast delivery for the cost of slow delivery, that's great, but it sometimes doesn't work out that way. Measure the bottom line and shop elsewhere if necessary.
Tip: Ask online companies
about order tracking: if they send tracking
numbers for shipments automatically by email, or even better, offer order tracking direct
from their web site!
Next: Payment Options