It's time to rate the mail order companies I used for my very very hurried holiday shopping. There were some outstanding performances, some predictably reliable ones, and one company that utterly dropped the ball.
First, the stars. Amazon and LL Bean were lightening fast. Amazon delivered one item less than 24 hours after I placed the order and I had not requested or paid for express delivery. LL Bean delivered a personalized item less than 72 hours after the order was placed. Neither vendor delivered anything late or wrong.
In the "predictably reliable category" are Drugstore.com, Hanna Andersson, Crate & Barrel. Netflix gets a minor ding for their e-mail landing in my friend's spam folder but I chalk that up to AOhell more than Netflix. At least they warned me this could happen and gave me the chance to print out a certificate that could be mailed.
At the other end of the spectrum, FAO Schwarz and their shipping company, DHL, suck ass. I ordered an item to be shipped to my sister in Maine. It took them five days to get the item to the shipper. DHL got it moving quickly and when it was in Providence, RI on Dec 21 I thought we were in good shape. HA!!! If the tracking info is to believed, it sat in Providence until Dec 27. My sister didn't receive it until the 29th or 30th, since DHL hands it off to the postal service and they take another day to get it to its final destination. I e-mailed both DHL and FAO Schwarz asking for an explanation. DHL responded with a canned answer about taking the 26th as a holiday. FAO Schwarz didn't respond at all. It's no wonder they are in bankruptcy. They will not be seeing any more of my business.
Finally, in the "strange but true" category, there's Planet Dog. They are a great company so I think what I experienced is probably attributable to untrained holiday help. I called them to order a gift certificate because one cannot do that on their website (strike one). The person I spoke with clearly did not have a great grasp of how to do this. She nearly let me go without ever asking for my credit card number. Despite spelling the dogs' names and their human's name, the certificate arrived with nearly all the names misspelled (strike two). The truly bizarre thing is that they charged me an additional .37 for the stamp! I don't recall ever being asked to pay postage for a gift certificate from any company (strike three!).