The Frustrating Fallacy of “Next Day Air”

Ordering something online from a US retailer last Friday, for domestic delivery. I was given the option to pay $20 for Next Day Air. When I selected that option, the expected delivery date was updated to.... Tuesday, four days hence.

Folks in America know nothing other than this shady date math... an order placed on Friday doesn't get processed or shipped until Monday, so next day isn't until Tuesday, but it drives me crazy. In Japan, when you order something for the next day, it arrives The Next Day.

For example, in Japan, Amazon Prime is free next-day delivery. If you order something on Saturday night, you'll get it on Sunday. Sometimes you get things the same day... I've ordered something Sunday morning and had it delivered that evening. This is what I'm used to, so the American-style fake next day stuff is difficult to stomach. First World Problems, I guess.

Of course, my product didn't arrive yesterday as promised.

I got an email early on Monday from the shipper (Karma Mobility) that my package had shipped, but tracking didn't actually show up on the UPS site until 8pm that night, when it was Order Processed; Ready for UPS. That, I assume, was too late to make that evening's flight from California out east, which I further assume was why early on Tuesday morning UPS updated the status with the deliciously-vague Due to operating conditions, your package may be delayed. The next 17 hours went by without an update, until yesterday evening the package did make the flight out east, a day late, and so now they're suggesting that I'll get it today.

It seems apparent that it's the shipper's fault for missing the promised delivery date, so I sent them a note last night asking them to refund my $20. We'll see. Sigh.


All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

‘Next Day’ here means next business day -which is Monday through Friday and of course by M-F we mean that if your order gets to us before noon. Like the banks.. if we get it after lunch… then well, hell, that’s the next day in our books.

One of my personal favorite’s is my gym, ’24HourFitness’. They are a pretty good gym with nice clean facilities, towels, classes, machines etc… but they are open from 5am to 11pm. That is certainly a large window of availability, however the name of the club is not 18HourFitness.

When you inquire about the brand-name promise versus reality and why the discrepancy the staff acts like you just asked them for a free bar of gold.

First world problems, indeed.

— comment by Ron Evans on February 25th, 2016 at 4:24am JST (1 year, 1 month ago) comment permalink

It is always interesting for me to read your perceptions of what is happening in America. It also makes appreciate so much having ended up in Japan, where, as you said, when they say ‘next day’, it means ‘next day’. Honesty is such a basic feature of life here. When it is not there, it is always accompanied by silence. That means that rather than having to lie, they just say nothing.

— comment by Arthur on February 25th, 2016 at 8:52am JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

I’m in the U.S. and was gobsmacked one time when a package was delivered to us on a Sunday, and by the USPS, no less. My partner had signed up for Amazon Prime without realizing it.

— comment by Darkoshi on March 7th, 2016 at 9:35am JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

Well, things are getting a little better here. With Amazon Prime, next day usually really means tomorrow, and if you live in a shipping hub area, a lot of things are eligible for same day. Case in point, I ordered a hard drive to replace a failed time machine drive this morning and it’s scheduled to arrive this evening.

For what it’s worth, one reason why Japan does better with shipping might be because Japan has less land area than California (never mind the continental United States)… there isn’t as much distance to potentially cover, which makes planning a shipping web a bit easier, albeit the flip side is that it’s a bit harder to find space for those huge warehouses to stock all the stuff. Of course, this has nothing to do with Monday through Friday “business day” math.

— comment by Josh on March 12th, 2016 at 7:16am JST (1 year ago) comment permalink
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