Thursday, August 31, 2006

Shipping to Hawaii

I would like to think that I have greater than normal access to the objects of my desire. After all, Hawaii is geographically and culturally more similar to Japan than the rest of the Union is. One of my economics professors who specialized in tourism, once claimed that our economic performance tracked that of Japan about as much as we tracked CONUS (that's CONtinental United States for you hippies). And we are in the middle of the Pacific, a "natural" gathering place for all people in the Pacific Rim.

Unfortunately that last bit illustrates the simple problem with this "island paradise": freaking everything must be imported. We don't grow our own food, we don't manufacture our own clothes and, most important, we don't produce any entertainment or merchandise worth a damn. Unless you count tourist bait, but us locals don't as by definition, that stuff is for the tourists. (Please come! We need your money! I'm only half-joking.)

Basically if ocean shipping died tomorrow I'd start planning cannibal hunts, if only to get the jump on my prey before the 3rd-world famine arrives.

I hear that commercial shipping rates to outside Hawaii are actually pretty cheap, since most of the ships/planes involved in hauling stuff in are leaving essentially empty. That's just what I hear though. Anyway, a personal consequence of this everything-must-be-imported reality is that I really really pay attention to shipping charges. Being an otaku on the mainland is fairly simple, you order from anywhere else in CONUS and they UPS ground it or something to you on the cheap. Because neither ships nor airplanes are involved, it is fairly fast and inexpensive. Not so here! Many companies that offer "free shipping" promotions simply do not respect it for Hawaii and won't even extend a consolation discount. Of course, a few even decide to screw us over one extra step and count Hawaii as outside the US. (How insulting!) Don't even start me on eBay, where some will simply refuse to ship here at all.

Granted, these discriminatory policies are not as common as I might imply. If anything, the situation has improved substantially over the years. (Thank you, USPS. I love you.) Still, shipping rates can differ substantially from one seller to another, being anything from free to $30 for one item. This obviously affects the way I shop. Eventually it stops being about logic and starts being about principle.

Thus, I heavily favor anybody with free shipping to Hawaii. RightStuf, Deep Discount DVD, YesAsia and Amazon are all on my "favored" list; if I'm in the market for something, they get first crack at it in roughly that order. Yes, I'm aware RightStuf is slow as hell and, yes, they require paid membership (which I have) for their best prices, but they offer free shipping! Like I said, eventually it stops being about logic.

To compensate for now huge time lags, I have pretty much stopped caring about it--things arrive when they arrive. It's just as well anyway; I'm in a state of perpetual backlog (electronic games and anime):
  1. I have over 5 games (RPGs no less) I haven't even started since I bought them 6 months ago.
  2. I still have at least 3 boxsets where I have not even watched the first DVD.
  3. I am dreadfully behind in training up my Guild Wars characters; I haven't even cleared the Factions campaign with any character yet.
(As an aside, you can roll a mesmer in GW that really looks like a gothic lolita. So naturally, I rolled one, but she doesn't have the right armor to get the proper look. So if anything, I will have her progress to the end of the campaign first.)

Anyway, the point is that I love USPS. The only business the government gets something approaching to right. USPS >>> all

2 comments:

Pete Zaitcev said...

Yeah, but then Yoko Ishida comes to Kawaii Con. It all balances out. For this year anyway.

Jeffrey said...

Oh yes! I was very much enraptured. I had originally intended to get only a 1 or 2 day pass but ended up getting a 3 just to see more of her. People really need to learn how to ask questions properly in a Q&A.

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