Canadian Shipping Delays from HarperCollins Make U.S. Headlines
It’s not just you that’s waiting forever for shipments from HarperCollins. Stores across Canada are being affected. And the article which appeared Tuesday at Publisher’s Weekly doesn’t begin to address the problems we’ve experienced with damaged books — some setting a new all-time low for the severity of the damage before the books were packed — as well as package shortages, wrong titles shipped, and shipments disappearing into thin air.
These are excerpts:
Canadian indie bookstores are facing long waits for HarperCollins titles this holiday season, causing frustration and missed opportunities for sales. Since HC closed its Toronto-area warehouse this spring, distribution to Canadian stores has been provided by Indiana-based company R.R. Donnelley. Although booksellers were promised 48-hour shipping, they claim to be waiting two weeks or more to receive their orders.
Kelly McKinnon, co-owner of Vancouver Kidsbooks, said an order she placed with HC on Nov. 13 didn’t arrive in her store until Nov. 27. The shipping issue, she noted, is impacting the bottom line; while her overall store sales are up this fall, her sales of HC titles are down 20%…
…Two other B.C.-based bookstores, Mosaic Books and the indie chain Black Bond Books, expressed similar frustrations. Michael Neill, co-owner at Mosaic Books, said sales of HC titles at his store are “way down,” with orders typically taking 10 days to arrive. One order, placed on Nov. 10, didn’t arrive at the store until Nov. 26…
…David Worsley, co-owner of Words Worth Books in Waterloo, said shipments to his store have been taking eight or nine days, and arriving piecemeal. “HarperCollins has mastered the art of shipping orders containing six boxes over three days. Box one of six and five of six on Monday, boxes four of six on Wednesday, the rest on Friday.” …
read the whole article at this link.
There are a number of ways this writer feels changes could be made for the better:
- Invoices in package. What the company is spending on postage alone is obscene. On Tuesday we received four separate envelopes at international first class US postage. Separate invoicing is also the norm with Hachette and Penguin Random-House, but with our Christian market suppliers, invoices with shipments is much more common and much easier on the environment. Also my bookkeeper has so many packing slips and invoices that need to be matched up. It’s often only at month-end we realize a shipment is missing.
- Consolidate backorder releases. There’s no need for all these small parcels to be going out piecemeal. Items can be merged into a single shipment on a single invoice.
- Ditch UPS. Their contract is part of an international arrangement HarperCollins has with United Parcel Service, but the so-called “Cadillac” of couriers irritates me on so many levels that it would need to be the subject of another article. We get many deliveries as late as 4:30 PM (at which point they should really be doing pick-ups) and despite dozens of requests to lay the boxes flat, they always leave the boxes lying on their sides.
- Have a random checking stage and remove warehouse employees who have too many errors. The formula of pick-check-pack has obviously been replaced with pick-pack which results in wrong titles, wrong quantities and books which were obviously in warehouse cartons that had been dropped or fell off the forklift truck. In one study guide shipment we got six out of thirty-six books that would never pass even as remainders, but they were all in different parts of the box. There’s no way this should have been missed unless it was deliberate, which, I have to say I do suspect.
- Find ways to make good on the disasters of the past year. I’ll leave that to HarperCollins’ imagination.
This article was updated at 9:00 AM with point 2 above added.