BBB’s advice for sending gifts this holiday season

December 13, 2012

BBB helps ensure your holiday packages arrive safely and on time


Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to plan ahead before sending those last-minute holiday packages. Last shopping season, BBB received close to 600 complaints nationwide from consumers who were disappointed with their shipment. Many of those complaints allege consumers either did not receive their packages on time, or received broken or damaged products as a result of the shipping process.

While the different delivery services have varying deadlines, and there are options for overnight delivery and other express services, the U.S. Postal Service suggests all parcel packages be sent on or before Dec. 14 and express mail on or before Dec. 22.

Additionally, for the online shoppers out there, more than 1,300 merchants are participating in Free Shipping Day on Monday, Dec. 17. On this day, participating merchants will offer free shipping, with delivery on or before Christmas Eve. To see which retailers are participating,visit

To ensure your packages arrive on time and in one piece, BBB advises consumers to:

  •  Give yourself plenty of time. When you are told the package should arrive in three to seven days, it is smart to go ahead and add a few days to the expected shipping time. With the increased activity during the holiday season, along with uncertain weather conditions, there is more likelihood that your package could be delayed.
  • Consider your drop-off method. Most delivery services won’t simply leave a package on a doorstep without prior authorization. When selecting your delivery option, specify delivery instructions and consider pre-signing for the delivery. This way the package can be left in the recipient’s mailbox or on his or her porch. You can also consider shipping the package to an address where someone can sign for it or pick up the package at a delivery center.
  • Use a service that electronically tracks your package. This allows you to keep tabs on your shipment during the delivery process.
  • Compare rate quotes. Rates will vary significantly by destination and weight. Do your research ahead of time and obtain multiple quotes to determine the least expensive option for your holiday shipping needs. Each of the main carriers – USPS, UPS or FedEx — has a price calculator on their website.
  • Verify addresses are correct and clear. If the address is incorrect or not legible, the package could get lost in shipping. Make sure to add your return address, as well. Additionally, the USPS suggests consumers put a card with both the delivery and return addresses inside each box, in case the outer labels fall off or are destroyed.