Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Shipping Frustrations

In biology we have pretty specific shipping and delivery requirements, since a lot of what we deal with is either live, toxic, or temperature sensitive (or in some cases all three). Unfortunately, at community colleges the shipping staff usually isn't familiar with biological shipping, and to make matters worse most of the materials are extremely time sensitive because they're used in teaching labs.

A few weeks ago two shipping problems occurred nearly simultaneously:
  • A package of very temperature sensitive enzymes was hand-delivered to a co-workers office one afternoon. The box was stamped in bright red ink on every side "Freeze upon arrival." Unfortunately, the shipping staff at our campus held the box at room temperature for at least 24 hours before delivering it, so the ice in the package melted and the enzymes were destroyed. Better than this, though, is that no-one will be held accountable, and we'll have to pay for new enzymes out of our own budget (which is now nearly nonexistent).

  • I ordered a large number of live items for my zoology lab through our purchasing department at the beginning of the semester; each item was scheduled to arrive on a different week. The caterpillars I ordered for the fourth week of the semester never arrived. Then, the hydra, flatworms, and sea urchins all arrived in the same box. This would have been fine, except that we didn't need the flatworms for 3 weeks or the sea urchins for 7 weeks. Our aquarium folks had offered to help us keep the urchins, but they weren't planning on them arriving for weeks so no tanks were setup. Thus, the sea urchins have died and the flatworms are likely to be in horrible shape by the time we need them since most of them died during shipping (two of their containers broke).

No comments: