Buried alive! Disappearances in the night! It’s a spooky time for freight shipping right now, and I hope it’s not too late for some Halloween stories.

Back in June, I wrote a post about the current state of freight shipping. It was pretty bad back then–slow shipping times, high prices, etc–but even then, there was a semblance of predictability to the whole situation.

That’s no longer the case.

Basically, the freight shipping world is now weird and unpredictable. I’ve heard far worse stories than the two I’ll share below (including some creators who have been waiting for months to simply get fully produced games out of China).

Before I share these stories, I just want to thank all of the customers out there–for Stonemaier Games and all other publishers–for your patience during this difficult year for shipping. Publishers owe you transparency and communication, and wherever I’ve seen that, I’ve seen the vast majority of customers extend compassion and patience. I’m very grateful for that.

Buried Alive!

One thing you may know about Stonemaier Games is that we only sell in-stock products. Even when we run a preorder, we’re selling products that have already been produced and are either at our fulfillment centers or are scheduled for delivery within a few days.

That was the case in early October when the Rolling Realms preorder was ready to go live. We had word from our freight shipping company that several containers of restocks (Wingspan European and Oceania expansions, Scythe metal mechs, etc) were scheduled for pickup and delivery, so we made those products live on our website for customers to combine with their Rolling Realms orders.

A week later, the containers still hadn’t arrived. After a brief investigation, we learned that the container pickup had been unscheduled, which I can’t recall ever happening before.

To make matters worse–much worse–the containers were for some reason moved to a different facility and ended up buried under other incoming containers.

As days stretched into weeks, we couldn’t in good conscience continue to hold orders that including Rolling Realms and the buried products. So proceeded to ship the Rolling Realms portion of those orders at our expense, and when the other products arrive, we’ll ship them too.

Also, we kept hoping that the buried products would finally arrive, but there’s still no sign of that happening, so we’ve taken the products off preorder until they do.

It’s been a really frustrating situation for all parties involved, especially given how close we were to having those containers picked up and delivered on time.

Disappearances in the Night!

A few months ago, as far as we knew, a few containers of Stonemaier products arrived at the warehouse of a major US distributor. But when a partial check arrived from the distributor, we learned that they had received some containers but not the others.

We started talking to the freight shipping company and the distributor. The distributor couldn’t find any evidence of receiving the shipment, and the freight shipping company said that the driver told them it was delivered. The driver still hasn’t been able to find the POD (proof of delivery), though.

We’ve been shipping containers since 2013, and we’ve never had a single container completely vanish until now. The missing containers include over $100,000 in products. I’m at least glad there’s an insurance system in place to resolve such matters, but it takes time and effort to do so.

More Information

To learn more about the freight shipping and fulfillment process, Fulfillrite has put together some videos for you:

The first video talks about how board games go from Kickstarter to individual backers (also see my article on supply chain basics):

The second video addresses creators directly and talks about how setting unrealistic expectations, mismanaging freight, and trying to self-fulfill can derail timely deliveries:

I sincerely hope you’ve avoided these types of freight shipping horror stories, but if not, I’m here to listen and empathize in the comments below.

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