Warning – not chocolate related this week. But important as the holidays come up.

I got the error saying it is not a valid tracking number. Please give me the correct tracking number.

I ordered Friday. Why didn’t it ship until Wednesday? That’s 5 days!!!! I am so disappointed. I needed it Tuesday. I picked Next Day Air!!!!

I received nearly a dozen of these this week (and another two while writing this). Within an hour of processing the order. Is it the full moon? Do I sound annoyed? Perplexed really.

First off that actually isn't what USPS or UPS says. It says "The Postal Service could not locate the tracking information for your request. Please verify your tracking number and try again later." It is directly because I say "Please allow some time (12-24 hours) for the status of the shipment to correctly display at the above address". We say this because the number is assigned electronically. Then it needs to be packed and actually taken to a post office by a live human. You have to give it TIME!

Here is the routine around here. Usually the day before an order ships it is ‘processed’. This involves making the shipping label, printing and recording the sale. At that time, you the customer are sent a Shipping Confirmation with a tracking number. If you follow the tracking link too soon (read before 12-24 hours – and I am thinking now of changing this to 24-36) then there has not been time to both pack your order AND get it to the post office (or UPS) AND have time for them to scan it into their system. If your order contains roasted beans or nibs, there may be yet another day ‘delay’ as I tend to roast fresh as orders come in. Quite often we have enough around, but not always so it has to be roasted the day after it was “processed” and then is often not packed until the following day so it can cool and not condense in the bags.

I’m sorry, but we are not Amazon here (really, I’m NOT sorry) with a ton of people working around the clock to have your order packed and shipped within hours or even minutes of you ordering. That isn’t an excuse. Just the reality of how this small business runs. My sincere hope here that you appreciate the effort we put in and understand we are working as fast as we can to get everyone’s order out.

All this is in way of saying to plan well ahead and be realistic to ship times during the holidays. From past history I know they are going to stretch out due to just the sheer volume. But also where possible, we are happy to accommodate needs and deadlines if we can. There is a BIG catch here though. You have to make an EXTRA effort to tell us. You have to help us help you. Picking Next day Air does NOT assure it will go out the next day. Putting a note in your cart will NOT assure we can accommodate your request. You need to follow the directions in the Order Confirmation that says EMAIL US (with your order number, right? Right!). Otherwise we will in all likelihood not see your shipping method or note until it is already too late. As much as I would love to review every order as it comes in in detail and intuit your needs and deadlines, I can’t. And surprise, I’m not psychic.

That order on Friday? No note or email. 6 pm Friday BTW. Processed Monday. I spend the weekends with family. We process shipping ‘in bulk’ so were not aware it was Next Day Air. I hate this, but our system only shows “UPS”. It was 10 lbs of roasted beans that had to be roasted Tuesday. And thus shipped Wednesday. With an email, I would have found time to roast early Monday and get it out the same day. Without, it was processed as normal.

Communication please. I’m begging you. Keep the assumptions.to a minimum, communicate your special needs if you have them, and it’s all going to go much smoother for all of us, and result in less frustrations and disappoints all around.

Send in your Ask the Alchemist questions to questions@chocolatealchemy.com