Before buying saltwater fish or other marine livestock by mail order, it is important to the well being of the animals to know what to expect of a supplier when it comes to packing and transporting them, as well as on your part to know how to handle it when they arrive. Therefore, we wanted to pass on these packing and shipping tips to you, as they can help make dealing with mail order shipments more successful and happy events.
Shipping Considerations Before Buying
It is most often best to avoid orders being shipped during the busiest time of the Christmas season when the bulk of gift packages are being mailed. This is usually starting about the second week in December until the first of January. It is wise to also stay away from having orders shipped close to other special occasion dates like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, etc.
During summer and winter months, check high and low weather projections nationwide for the day(s) a shipment will be in transit from the supplier to its final destination, keeping in mind that the shipment may be routed through just about any hub city for plane or ground service truck transfers.
If temperatures are predicted to be dropping below 40° or rising above 80°, it is usually best to delay shipping until conditions are more conducive to the survivability of the animals. If a supplier insists on shipping during cold winter months, ask about a heat pack. We used 20 hour Grabber Mycoal Shipping Warm Packs, but since 1998 they have improved construction greatly, and a 40 hour model is even available.
Get all the details about a suppliers shipping policies. Many do not guarantee live arrival or take responsibility for any losses. Even though you may have prepaid any delivery fees to the shipper, since you are paying for the actual services of any particular freight carrier or delivery service being used, they feel that once the shipment is handed over to them, it is this company's responsibility to properly handle the shipment as well as get it to its final destination on a timely basis.
If when you receive a shipment any box is noticeably damaged, such as crushed, leaking, or is received "well past" its expected delivery time that you are paying for, you may want to open and inspect the shipment in front of any person that is present upon receivership, and if necessary at that time file a claim or request claim forms to submit for any losses that may have resulted due to improper handling on their part. Keep in mind that if the shipment was sent freight collect, many companies still require that you pay for it upon receipt before you can open it.
Read the fine print for filing claims. Cargo or delivery companies vary in their regulations for accepting and paying claims. For example, most all domestic airline cargo services do not consider a shipment being delayed due to an "Act of God" to be acceptable, or state that, "A reasonable delivery time is 72 hours." If you paid for and are expected a shipment in about 24 hours, but it gets to you in 48, they may still say they delivered it on time and are not at fault!