Do I need rush processing? Beats me!


During the preparations for the 2005 PDC, I was filling out an application for a corporate credit card. (The rant behind why I was filling out this application in the first place will have to wait for another day.) One of the options was to check a box to request rush processing at an additional charge of $10.

There was one key piece of information missing: How much faster is rush processing compared to regular processing?

I needed the card in three weeks. The web site didn't say how long normal processing took. It didn't say how long rush processing took. It just asked me if I wanted to pay extra to go faster.

I took my chances and decided not to request rush processing. The confirmation page included the standard information, giving me an order number and confirming various bits of information that I had previously entered. And then it said, "This will typically take 7 to 10 business days."

Thanks a lot for giving me that crucial information after it's too late for me to do anything about it. Fortunately, ten days was plenty of time.

Comments (23)
  1. pcooper says:

    It may take the same amount of time whether you choose rush processing or not.

  2. kkl says:

    Often the two queues differ by other parameters than average wait time.

    Standard : typically from 7 to 10 days.

    Rush : guaranteed in 12 days.

  3. Nish says:

    When I ordered my phone from Vonage, they had 3 shipping options and the most expensive one said next-day, the next one said 2 days, and the third one said 3-5 days. I chose the cheapest one and got my phone the very next day. It’s almost as if their profit model is based on people choosing the higher priced shipping options.

  4. James Schend says:

    Nish, I have the same experience with "super saver" shipping at Amazon. 7-10 day "super saver" shipping usually comes the exact same time as 2-day shipping.

    I think it all depends on how close you are to the nearest Amazon warehouse, how many other orders there are, and whether stuff you order is already in stock at that particular warehouse. In other words, I think it’s just a fluke.

    That said, if you know about it… you can save a ton of money. I never order from Amazon now unless I can get "super saver" because free 2-day shipping rocks.

  5. Brian says:

    If you order something in February it doesn’t matter, but Super Saver shipping is not 2-day in December.

  6. Tim says:

    The last time I renewed my UK passport, the standard time was 2 weeks for processing.  However, you could pay extra for fast processing, which only took 24-48 hours.

    The only slight wrinkle was that you had to call and arrange the appointment for fast processing 2 weeks in advance.

    I’m still trying to work that one out.

  7. Jonathan says:

    Nish, I have the same experience with "super saver" shipping at Amazon. 7-10 day "super saver" shipping usually comes the exact same time as 2-day shipping.

    I think it all depends on how close you are to the nearest Amazon warehouse, how many other orders there are, and whether stuff you order is already in stock at that particular warehouse. In other words, I think it’s just a fluke.

    It seems to be something of a fluke.  

    My experience is that Super Saver shipping is usually 2 days, but every once in a while something’s only in stock in their California warehouse and can take a week to arrive.

  8. bramster says:

    I’m betting I don’t need/want the rush processing half as much as "they" need/want the extra 10 bucks.

  9. Gabe says:

    What I hate is paying an extra $30 for rush shipping, only to find out that "rush" applies only to shipping and not to the 3 weeks that processing itself takes. If I’m going to be without my product for 3 weeks while you sit on the order, why would I care if it takes an extra few days to get to me?

  10. Spire says:

    I’ve encountered the same thing at online stores. My understanding is that "rush" orders are placed in a separate "rush" queue that is always emptied before any non-rush orders are processed. Since the processing time might vary wildly depending on the number of orders in each queue at any given moment, it is probably difficult to come up with a reasonable estimate of processing time. The situation is further complicated by the unpredictability of actual delivery time.

    In your case, they gave you an estimate anyway — but too late in the process. I agree that this is nonsensical.

    *Some* upfront estimate would be nice. However, that puts the store in danger of being held to its estimates by unreasonable customers. If they had told you upfront that delivery "typically take[s] 7 to 10 business days" without rush processing, and it ended up taking just over three weeks, many people in your shoes would have then complained.

  11. Fred says:

    But, isn’t the lack of a reasonable estimate of processing time just a cosmetic bug?

    http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2007/02/02/1582983.aspx#1593619

    [If they just made a bad estimate, then that’s cosmetic. But they’re asking me if I want to spend more money. Who makes purchasing decisions based on a program’s progress bar? -Raymond]
  12. Fred says:

    Raymond: In your case, the wrong decision would have cost you $10. In the case I was referring to, the wrong decision could have lost quite some time – and what much developer time is worth $10?

    (The decision being "is this process hung and do I kill it, or does it just appear to be hung?". And by the way it wasn’t based on a progress bar, the damn thing didn’t show a progress bar until tens of minutes later.)

  13. Fred says:

    Oops. In the previous comment, please read: "how much developer time…", of course.

  14. James S. says:

    How long did it *actually* take?

    Have you spoken to anyone who did request rush processing?

    Is the $10 charge on the card, or to you?

    Also, as your story was amusing, why do I need more information to evaluate it?

    Regards,

    James.

    (PS: I like one-story-at-a-time, but dislike "I’ll tell you later". Microsoft developers are the masters of failing to tell us later. Well, unless it’s too late)

  15. Stephen Jones says:

    —-"The last time I renewed my UK passport, the standard time was 2 weeks for processing.  However, you could pay extra for fast processing, which only took 24-48 hours.

    The only slight wrinkle was that you had to call and arrange the appointment for fast processing 2 weeks in advance."——

    The last time I renewed in the UK I just turned up at the office in London and they gave me a number. They had a sign up telling how many were being processed an hour so I could time it in the pub, without losing my turn. Stunningly efficient.

  16. Robin Message says:

    I once bought a phone online from Carphone Warehouse (UK Mobilde phone company). Throughout the order preocess they assured me it would be delivered the next day. When I got to the payment confirmed screen, it said "Due to high demand, delivery is currently 3 days."

    Funny they didn’t tell me that earlier in my order…

  17. Dean Harding says:

    > How long did it *actually* take?

    Um, that’s not the point of the story.

  18. Mike says:

    "Thanks a lot for giving me that crucial information after it’s too late for me to do anything about it"

    This may look like a troll, but I’m rather serius;

    This sounds just like software "EULA"’s, or changing rules in the middle of the game (f.ex. Windows 2000 sp3).

  19. Jim says:

    "Thanks a lot for giving me that crucial information after it’s too late for me to do anything about it"

    This may look like a troll, but I’m rather serius;

    This sounds just like software "EULA"’s, or changing rules in the middle of the game (f.ex. Windows 2000 sp3).

    Except that every Microsoft patch/Service Pack that I’ve ever installed makes you agree to the EULA before you can install it. That’s giving you all the information while you can still do something about it (eg hit the Cancel button).

    What? You didn’t bother reading the EULA before clicking "I Agree"? Not Microsoft’s fault, all the info’s there but they can’t force you to pass your eyes over the wole thing.

    Ok so it could be worded better for a non-lawyer to skim and parse, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not giving the info at the right time.

  20. Mike says:

    Jim, you’re missing my point about changing the rules during the game.

    "The game" here is the lifetime of Windows 2000, meaning the time it’s installed. I believe most computer literate people to read "Service Pack" as something performing service on a (defect, or at least suboptimal) piece of software.

    When changing the rules of the game by changing the software license, and you are stuck there (or perhaps we should have all installed yet unproven XP by then and sent the bill to you?), then I and millions of people have every right to be seriously pissed off.

    Yes, MS did present the EULA for sp3 before it was installed. Thanks to that, millions of machines were never patched until sp4 (where they reverted the horrible stuff from sp3).

  21. Scott says:

    What is it with some commenters?  It’s like they read every post looking for some "gotcha!" they can throw at Raymond that says "But Microsoft does that and you are personally responsible for everything Microsoft does so you are a HYPOCRITE! Burn!"

  22. Dean Harding says:

    Thanks to that, millions of machines were never patched until sp4

    And therefore it’s nothing at all like the current situation.

  23. The answer says:

    Do I need rush processing?

    Yes!

    (Aren’t you glad you got an answer when you needed it?)

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