Ordering supplies from the Top of the World

The field season will soon be here. For the last couple of months, preparation has been underway.

Laura Thomas, who is the field and lab supervisor for the Nuvuk archaeological Project, has been double-checking the level of various field and lab supplies, and I’ve been ordering them. This is often a bit complicated, since some of the suppliers have never sent anything to Bush Alaska, at least since our last order, from which they don’t seem to have learned much. They either want to ship FedEx or UPS, which tend to be insanely expensive, and quite often are slower than Priority Mail, or they want to use Parcel Post, which can take several months. We try to get all the ordering done well in advance, so that even if my strong suggestions as to practical shipping methods are ignored, we will actually have what we need by the beginning of the field season.

I’m not sure what the deal is with FedEx & UPS. They make you pay way more than in the Lower 48 for Next-Day or Second Day service. It might be worth it if you actually got the service, but the packages are never closer than Anchorage by the “promised” delivery time, and may take a week more to get to Barrow and get delivered, depending on the schedule of the air freight company to which they hand them off. Of course, no refund, since Barrow (and all the rest of Bush Alaska–most of the state) is an exception area. Why they don’t make that clear to shippers beforehand one can only guess.

Anyway, pretty much everything I ordered has finally made it. We’ve got assorted archival-stable plastic zip bags for artifact storage, conservation chemicals of various kinds, Rite-in-the-rain copier paper for field forms by the ream.

Now all we have to do is get things stored and make up the field forms.

3 thoughts on “Ordering supplies from the Top of the World

  1. I know two people who have been successful getting refunds from vendors for partial shipping costs, but only after the FedEx or UPS website shows that the exception occurred and the package was delivered. In both cases I know of, only partial refund was given because of “handling” charges. It is questionable whether the phone and/or email time to get a refund is worth it, other than on moral grounds.

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