Ordering By Mail

A lot of people are terrified of ordering by mail -- they are certain that all mail-order shops are villains, ready to take their money and disappear from the face of the earth. On the other hand, I've been ordering by mail for years, and have never had a bad experience.

But first, a cautionary note -- if you can, buy from a local store rather than ordering by mail. Very simply put, if everyone starts ordering by mail, the local hobby shops will go out of business. And it will be your fault. ;-)

So why order by mail? Because:

In the United States: It is a good practice to order from a company in another state, because this usually means that you need not pay state sales tax. If you live in a high sales tax state, ordering by mail may save you a considerable sum (although you pay for shipping, which offsets your tax savings).

You can place your order by letter, phone, FAX, or even the Internet. The advantage of placing an order in writing is that it reduces the chance for error -- especially if you don't handwrite your order. Be sure to list both manufacturer, item name, and item number.

Never send cash through the mails. If you pay by check, some companies will not send your order until the check clears. Paying by credit card presents a mild risk that someone might steal your numbers and place bogus orders against your account; however, some credit cards also provide some form of product insurance.

As the saying goes, expect to wait four to eight weeks for your package. When ordering miniatures, the wait tends to be on the long side, since few mail-order stores carry a lot of miniatures products in stock. For products manufactured by small companies, even the distributors may have trouble obtaining the goods in a timely manner! So if your order is delayed, give the shop a call to make sure everything is OK, but don't chew out the poor shopkeeper, OK?

When your order arrives, immediately unpack everything and check for damage. Also check to make sure everything you asked for has been included. Inspect the invoice to see if you have a refund coming, if they've given you a credit slip, whether they have split your order into multiple shipments, or whether you in fact owe more money.

A list of mail-order shops recommended by readers of this magazine is also available.

Last Updates
23 May 1996reformatted
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