Your Questions About Shipping Pt. 1

We recently sat down with our OPAS Warehouse Manager, Steve. He is in charge of your orders from the moment they come through our doors until they are consolidated and securely packaged and ready to be sent to you. Steve shared with us some of the common questions that our customers ask about receiving and shipping.

What happens from the time my package arrives to when it leaves?

Steve: First, each item that comes in is registered into our system. Where it came from, the tracking number and the weight are recorded and it is labeled with a unique number. All the packages are stored together by the member’s ID number until we get a shipping request to send them out. The ID numbers of the items to be shipped together are printed out on what we call a “pick ticket”. The items are then consolidated, usually into a single package. Then we measure and weigh it to calculate the shipping charges. When customers want a shipping estimate or are paying by PayPal, we wait to get payment approval, and finally we print out the shipping label and send it on its way.

I can’t find some of my items in my OPAS account. Were are they?

S: First of all, the tracking numbers of all packages are scanned and marked as “delivered” by most delivery services (like UPS and FedEx) when they arrive at our warehouse. However, packages delivered by the US Postal Service are scanned and marked as “delivered” before they are loaded onto the Post Office delivery trucks. The actual time we receive the packages from the post office may be several hours after it shows up as “delivered” in the system. In other words, you may track it as being delivered hours before it even arrives at OPAS. Recently we have had issues where some packages are marked “delivered” to us actually days before they reach OPAS. This is a serious issue and we are in contact with our local post office to resolve this issue. Please feel free to contact us if you are seeing a USPS package tracked as delivered, but not appearing in our system. But chances are this is what has happened and hopefully we won’t be seeing this anymore soon.

We get a lot of inquires asking about packages that should have arrived on Saturday. We are not open on the weekends, so we wouldn’t have seen them yet. Our carriers know when this and bring us all the weekend deliveries on Monday. Also, Amazon contracts out many of their deliveries to private contractors who promise to make deliveries on the weekend. Our customers sometimes get an email telling them that a delivery attempt was made, but that no one was there to accept the package. In this case there is nothing the OPAS customer needs to do. We will receive your package the following Monday. So make sure you don’t pay extra for weekend delivery!

We receive deliveries from the post office and every other shipping company until the early afternoon every weekday. Any one of these deliveries can be hundreds of packages, which have to be registered one by one. So it may be a few hours between the time we receive a delivery to the time it is input into our system. Please be a little patient!

Shouldn’t scanning each package go faster than that?

S: Electronic scanners are fast, but they can’t do everything. They can’t check for any damage a package has received in transit. When a package is damaged in delivery we need to contact the customer and the shipper as quickly as possible to get it resolved. There really isn’t any way make the process go quicker. We also have to deal with misdeliveries and mistaken orders, and it helps us speed things up when we know those things are coming. This is also true with hazardous materials. We inspect each package, input its measurements, and finish by putting a registration label on it.

What if I’d like to check on a package that OPAS has already received?

S: If you’d like to see a picture of what is inside your package, please select “Scan Request” on your received package. If you would like to make sure that the items you received were correct (i.e. size, color, model, quantity, etc…) please select the inspection option when you are ready to ship.

Where do you store my packages? Can you send out my order quickly?

S: After being registered, your packages are sorted and stored together based on your customer number inside the OPAS warehouse. When you make a shipping request it generates one of the pick tickets I mentioned earlier. Everything on the pick ticket is then collected. We double check to make sure all items are there and accounted for. It is our policy to process every request within 24 hours after receiving it, but special situations and delayed payments can cause it to take more time. Customers who pay for express delivery will get preferential treatment. At especially busy periods there are times when packages have to be pushed back to the next day. If you are in a real hurry to get your items, the best thing to do is let us know this in advance. For example, if you are waiting for certain items to arrive before placing your shipping request, declare or “add” the items you are expecting in your account, and then make a shipping request with the items that are already at OPAS. In the “special requests” section let us know you want to include the items you are waiting for. Then we can get your order processed without you having to wait until you get delivery confirmation to OPAS. This is also a good way to speed up your order processing without having to pay extra express delivery fees.

We will continue our conversation with Steve next month…

What New Users are Asking

OPAS recently participated in a New Year’s event held at a Japanese shopping center in suburb of Portland. The Shogatsu Matsuri or New Year’s Festival was a three day event with several booths for selling hot food like oden and imagawayaki and things like good luck charms from a local Buddhist temple. At our booth we had a game and participants could win a variety of prizes. We also used it as an opportunity to speak to people about OPAS and answer some questions about international shopping and personal import.

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Portland has the 7th highest Japanese population in the United States, and since it was during the holidays, there were a lot of people visiting people around Portland who live in Japan. Some were native Japanese visiting American relatives, and some were Americans who live in Japan, but came home for the holidays.

Many had never heard of our company, and had never heard of a service like ours. “Our daughter [or son, or niece, or nephew] lives in Japan and is always asking us to send things!” was a statement we heard many times. With OPAS there is no need to bother relatives to send favorites from home. With your OPAS account you can order online from an American retailer, send it to your OPAS address in Portland, and then we will consolidate your orders and prepare them for international shipping. When you are ready to have them sent to you, just a couple clicks gets them on their way.

A couple people asked us about shipping cars to and from Japan. This is a much bigger proposition than importing a phone or sweater, and we usually recommend a company that specializes in importing and exporting motor vehicles. We have sent scooters overseas, however. And we see a lot of car parts go through our warehouse.

“I have a car I imported from Japan specially. However, I can’t get the parts I need in the US.” This is an issue we heard at the festival. “My mechanic doesn’t want to send the parts I need overseas, so I have to wait for someone who is coming to the US to bring them for me.” In this day and age there is no more need for people to wait weeks or months to get things sent internationally. We recommended she use OPAS and have her mechanic send the parts to our Osaka office. From there we’ll get them sent to her home in the US. This was one of the more unique situations we heard about, but I was glad we were able to help her.

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Some people asked about foods and wine. For example, you cannot ship wine using the US Postal Service because all alcoholic beverages are considered “Hazardous Materials.” However you can ship wine to Japan using Yamato Transport, but you can’t using UPS unless you are a licensed wine shipper. Even if the carrier will take it, there are some countries where alcohol is illegal. It’s not hard to guess that firearms and ammunition cannot be shipped internationally. But did you know knives can be just as difficult?

People are not surprised that spray paint cannot be shipped in the mail, but neither can most bottles of nail polish. Most people don’t need to send rubbing alcohol in the mail, because it’s cheaper to buy than send. That’s why they are surprised to find out perfume and cologne are also mostly restricted for shipping because of their alcohol content. We tell our users to check before you order whether or not an item can be sent overseas. Of course, we check as well to make sure we are not sending items that will get confiscated.

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Do you have questions about ordering and getting items shipped to you? Please feel free to ask us here or email us at service@opas.com