The shipping bruise

Random Errors

Jeremy Smith / Sun Star Columnist
March, 22, 2011

Sometimes living in Alaska is just a huge pain. It’s not only the 40 below temperatures or the lack of sunlight, but also the sheer costs that we are forced to accept when having something delivered.

How many times have you been researching a product online, found the perfect price (with free shipping no less), only to discover that either: a) it is only shipped next day air at a price higher than that of the product itself, or b) only available in the “continental 48 states”?

I always question the company when it comes to the latter. If you look at a map, I argue, you will see that Alaska is indeed connected to the “continental 48 states” via a little tract of land called “Canada,” which is a part of the continent called “North America.” Of course, they tell me they just don’t ship to Alaska, or if they do, they won’t honor the free shipping price. I’ve had three recent events that just hammered this home to me, each one more ridiculous than the last.

First up is game publisher Ubisoft, maker of electronic fare such as “Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood” and “Prince of Persia.” Attempting to purchase one of these games through Ubisoft’s site is impossible if your credit card is from Alaska. There is no option for choosing Alaska. Thinking it was a programming oversight, I contacted customer service, assuming a quick correction and someone eager to take my money. Two weeks and five email exchanges later, you still cannot select Alaska as a billing option and I was forced to go to a local store to make my purchase.

Then there is Amazon. Granted, if you look up products with Amazon’s “free shipping” option they will ship to Alaska for free… usually. But it is their Amazon Prime service that drives me up the wall. Offered free to students, the normally $79 program provides special prices and offers on college essentials along with free second-day shipping on all orders. Well it does… except to Alaska. After asking them why, they pointed to their clearly worded “available only to the contiguous 48 states” buried in their terms of service. Basically, Amazon Prime for students in Alaska nets you extra spam messages.

My final incident deals with a technology I was going to review called OnLive. It’s a pretty slick idea of bringing games to you via streaming technology, requiring nothing more than the OnLive software and a fast Internet connection. This could potentially mean no more upgrading of components or purchasing game consoles in order to play the new digital hotness. After sending me multiple offers about their new TV adapter, which is free of charge with a game purchase, and seeing that my Internet speed was up to the challenge, I signed up and awaited my unit. Imagine my surprise when the company said that not only was my connection too slow to run the streaming software, but they don’t ship the hardware anywhere outside the lower 48.

Thankfully, OnLive refunded my money quickly and without any hassle, so kudos to them. But no shipping to Alaska, or Hawaii for that matter, again? Maybe it’s time for us to form a trade alliance with the Aloha state and cut off access to salmon and pineapples.

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