When Target's '2-Day Shipping' Really Means 5 or 6 Days

Shipping estimates for many online sellers come from realms in which the customary rules of math do not apply. Not only do ends of business days and weekends tack on time to shipping estimates, but additional bonus days tend to pop in as well.

Take ournextcontestant’s experience in trying to get Target to ship out a Wii in a timely manner:

Buying a Wii for my soon-to-be 8-year-old nephew on Target.com. On the website on Tuesday evening (Oct. 19). Birthday is Sunday, so regular shipping is dicey. I opt for two-day shipping and, luckily, just before completing the order, I see the estimated arrival date is Oct. 25. Hmmm, that’s six days. But even allowing for placing the order in evening and losing a day, Oct. 20 to Oct. 25 is, of course, not two days (not even two business days). Just for kicks, I change the shipping to one day, and it comes up Oct. 22.

So, to review: One-day shipping is not one day, two-day shipping is not two days, and one-day shipping gets there three days quicker than two-day shipping.

In the end, I opted for one-day shipping, as it was just two dollars more.

The shipping estimate, of course, refers to the time it takes the item to get to you once it’s actually sent out, which seems to vary depending on when the shipper gets around to sending your package.

What’s the most you’ve paid to expedite the shipment of something you bought online?


Edit Your Comment

  1. TouchMyMonkey says:

    Moral of the story, which I learned awhile back – NEVER pay extra for expedited shipping. It doesn’t work.

    • smirkette says:

      I don’t know, I’m really happy with Amazon Prime. It’s never been late (although once in a while, packages don’t get there until 7pm on the second day)

      • katstermonster says:

        I agree. I’ve had one issue – I paid for one-day shipping, then UPS screwed up. I checked the status in the morning, my packages was out for delivery. I later watched a truck pull up to my house, idle there for a while, then drive away. No problem, I think, it must be on another truck! That was just a fluke! Nope, the status that night showed that it had been checked back into the local office. And of course this was a Friday, so I had to wait until Monday.

        However, I emailed Amazon that day and they immediately refunded the $2.99 I had paid for one-day shipping.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I’m on the Amazon Prime trial and I’m loving it so far. I bought a CD on Friday and chose standard two-day shipping. Because it was the almost the weekend, I wasn’t expecting to receive it until Monday or Tuesday. I got it on Saturday!

      • Digital_Headache says:

        Likewise, Amazon Prime is fantastic. never had an issue. If the item is in stock, it arrives within the 2 days or overnight if expedited for $3.99. Target, however, has certainly padded their shipping times and as a result I do little internet business with them.
        Some other vendors who get high regards: Newegg, Staples, Apple.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        My husband likes to order things at the last minute and pay extra for expediated shipping. It drives me crazy. Now he wants to sign up for Amazon Prime, but virtually everytime I order and get the free standard shipping I get my items by the second day. I see no reason to spend this extra money, but he’ll probably do it anyway. Sigh.

    • DanRydell says:

      “awhile” != “a while”


      This free grammar lesson was not paid for by your tax dollars. You’re welcome.

    • Harrkev says:

      The same goes for the Federal government. In preparation or an overseas adoption, my wife and I submitted our passport paperwork at the same time. The only difference? My wife paid extra money to get expedited handling of hers. Mine came in a day earlier than hers. Figures.

  2. danmac says:

    This has been discussed on this site before. When pressed to explain why two-day shipping = 6 days, the vendor will point out that while shipping may only take two days, it can take as many as three or for days to get the item packaged and ready for transport. Stupid, I know, but that is the reasoning.

  3. DanRydell says:

    So, ignoring the feigned ignorance on the part of the OP, the only thing to see here is that Target adds a day to the shipping estimate for packaging. Everything else is standard. Weekends don’t count, and orders placed at night are handled as if they were placed on the next day.

    • RedOryx says:

      Agreed. Order placed late on the 19th = 20th. Include a day for processing/packaging, item won’t leave until 21st. 21st to 22nd is One Day. Weekends don’t count. Delivery on the 25th. That’s two days.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      We’ve been shopping online for quite some time now – I don’t understand why people still don’t understand what “shipping time” refers to, which is the time it will take to get to your home after it leaves the shipping facility. It might take 24 hours to package your stuff – it might take 72 hours. People shouldn’t be puzzled by this anymore.

      • Brie says:

        Maybe I shouldn’t be puzzled, but it’s also disingenuous to tout “FREE/CHEAP OVERNIGHT SHIPPING!!” on the website, then explain – or not – in the fine print that my item might sit somewhere for three days before moving.

        And “shipped” should mean “on the truck on its way,” not “seller printed out the label and slapped it on the box.” But the USPS doesn’t care what I think.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          “Shipped” does mean that it’s on its way to you, which would be true once it has left the facility. That’s why companies often send two emails – one “ready to ship” email and one “has shipped” email.

      • BlkSwanPres says:

        You shouldn’t provide 2-day shipping without a good explanation of how the process will work. For example Amazon lists on each page how long you have to order a product to get it shipped that day. I have ordered many things from Amazon at 7:00 to 7:30 pm and have them arrive before lunch the next day, with two day shipping that is provided with my prime. Amazon is a shining example of shipping.

  4. Alex says:

    In college I paid $50 to overnight ship two tiny LCDs (each $.16) for a final project I was working on. I had a week before the project was due and I couldn’t do any work without the displays. Most I ever spent on expedited shipping (total cost of the order was ~$52).

  5. Mcshonky says:

    Gift card and letting him go get it himself -with parents of course- may have been quicker

  6. crb042 says:

    “the time it takes the item to get to you once it’s actually sent out”
    So those extra 2 days difference between 1-day and 2-day shipping must mean a variant in how quickly the store actually sends it.

    THERE’s your better story. Why does upgrading from 2-day to 1-day get you a 2 day prioritization internally from the store sending the item out?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      You’ve got it wrong. The order was placed October 19, with the assumption that it will ship October 21. Two day shipping places it coming in October 25 because the 22nd is a Friday and some companies don’t deliver on the weekend. The OP upgraded to one day shipping and the shipping estimate was still October 21, but it was to be delivered October 22 because it’s one day shipping.

    • DanRydell says:

      The two day difference was the WEEKEND

  7. Miz_Ivy says:

    What’s the confusion here? She ordered the evening of the 19th, which means the order would go in on the 20th, the next day. If the package ships the following day (the 21st), it should get there one day later-the Friday the 22nd-for one-day shipping. And since only business days are counted, two day-shipping would get it there Monday the 25th. This seems like a non-story.

  8. steveliv says:

    This is why I shop at Amazon. When they say 2 Day Shipping, or Next Day Delivery, you can believe it. Amazon also does Saturday shipping so that makes it even better. I’ve even had some 2 day packages arrive in one day.

  9. Anne says:

    Sephora shipping is nightmare – at least that has been my experience. Many times I see if Amazon has the product available through Prime where 2 day shipping is free and order it that way. Granted, Prime has a yearly fee but it still is worth it.

    • steveliv says:

      Get Amazon Prime and share the service and cost with up to three other members of your family. It comes out to about $19 a person for a year of service.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I wish I could do that. No one in my family shops with Amazon enough to justify the cost. Meanwhile, we buy nearly all of our media through Amazon, and even some clothing.

    • NoFriggingWay says:

      Anne, Sign up for Amazon Prime for Mom’s. Its a free service to help parents out. Your Kids have to be with in a certain age. But even though its Named Prime Mom. Dads , Grandparents etc can all sign up for it. $79 service free of charge has got me using Amazon more and more .

  10. Rocket says:

    The dates are correct. If you ordered the Wii today, Oct. 20, it wouldn’t ship until tomorrow, Oct. 21. Two days from the 21st is the 25th (because the 23rd and 24th are weekends). The same applies to one-day shipping. One day from the 21st (the day the package will ship), is the 22nd.

    • Rocket says:

      Oops, didn’t see the OP ordered the Wii on the 19th, but still the dates seem correct. The shipping is from when the order is processed, not placed!

  11. mrs.bunnykins says:

    It is ALWAYS important to read a sites FAQ before orderin, especially when option for faster shipping.

    Target’s FAQ does CLEARLY state the following:

    How do you calculate the estimated delivery date range?

    On the day you place your order, we consider two factors in calculating the estimated delivery date range:

    • Product Availability: The length of time it takes to prepare your item for shipping. This date range is listed on the right side of the main image on the item’s detail page. If an item is listed as “In Stock”, it will be ready for shipment within 1-2 days.

    Sooooo, basically this would have shipped 2 days later. It also clearly states there is no weekend delivery for either 1 or 2 day option so, this would put you at the 25th.

    I’m not saying they should not be more clear on the order form, but the FAQ is there for a reason…use it, don’t assume.

  12. PBallRaven says:

    I learned not to pay for Saturday delivery, because UPS does not do Saturday delivery in my area.

  13. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    Personally, I’d give the present late rather than pay extra for faster shipping. While I usually order presents early enough for it to arrive on time with standard shipping, once in a while I’ve wanted something quicker, but I can’t bring myself to pay extra for it to arrive early. With adults and older kids, a picture of the present with an explanation that it will arrive soon is enough. Younger kids don’t notice or care if they don’t get the present on their actual birthday or not.

    • zappo says:

      I think a 7 or 8 year old would probably notice that their Aunt or Uncle “forgot” their present, 6 and below probably not, it depends a lot on the kid. After raising 5 boys I can say that It would be much better to be “out of town” on the birthday and then deliver the gift late. But then you miss the party! I would pay the extra shipping.

  14. sjgarg says:

    Have to agree with Miz_Ivy, this is a non-story.

    People, about online shopping:

    -Any online orders placed after 5PM of the store’s timezone are likely treated as being placed on the following day during regular business hours. To assume otherwise means that you expect people to work 24/7 to prepare and ship your order which isn’t realistic for smaller businesses. (like mine)

    -Most businesses need some sort of turnaround time to package/label the order and to place it with that day’s shipping manifests. Variables here could be that there happened to be 500 orders the previous business day where the norm is maybe 250, so a backlog occurs and could take time to resolve the extra work load.

    -There’s also variables of when the packages are dropped off/picked up by the carrier, most businesses have a cut-off time and there’s the possibility of your order not making it in that day’s shipping manifest(s).

    Yes, 2 day shipping means that it’ll have a transit time of 2 days form the time they hand it to the courrier. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be processing time that will add 1-2 days to your order…

  15. vmorgs says:

    This is nothing. Last week, I ordered something from Sears.com and paid for 2 Day Shipping. I ordered the items on 10-10 and the estimated arrival date was 10-13. When 10-13 came and went with nothing in the mail from Sears, I logged on to their web-site to “chat” with a “Customer Care” rep. According to the “Customer Care” rep, the estimated arrival date for my items was November 2nd. I asked what was taking so long since I paid for 2 Day Shipping, and the rep’s response was, “Well you have to allow 2 days processing time.” Apparently those days aren’t consecutive. FYI, it’s 10-20 and still no items!!

  16. zappo says:

    Newegg has this great thing called “Rush Processing” for $3.99. If you order and get confirmed before noon PT it will ship the same day. It has always worked for me but they will refund the $3.99 if it does not ship the same day. I use their financing option and one of the perks is that this is free. I tried Amazon Prime on a trial and it worked fine, but it is just too expensive if it is still $80 a year.

  17. Dukebruno says:

    Target is the worst when it comes to getting an accurate picture of where your stuff is in the shipping process. I made the mistake of ordering a comforter from them. From the minute I licked on FINISH I knew I was in trouble. I got all sorts of conflicting “estimated ship dates” and called twice to find out if I could get a more detailed status. The drones on the phone only read me what I could see myself on the order screen: “In process.” Once an order is “in process” it can’t be canceled — they tell you to just refuse the stuff if you don’t want it.

    Finally my comforter showed up on a Friday. The following Monday I received an email from Target telling me “Good news. Your order is shipping out today.”

    That says it all.

  18. nakkypoo says:

    A few Christmases ago I bought something online as a gift to myself. It was offered in three colors, so I bought all three. Each was shipped separately on the same day via FedEx. I did not pay for expedited shipping, the estimated delivery was about a week. A day later I got one of the packages, not bad, I got overnight for free! I asked the driver where the other two were, he had no idea (as expected.) Two weeks go by, and no sign of the others, FedEx tracking showed them as in transit. Finally the second one came almost three weeks later, and the third never arrived at all (I got my money back on that one of course.)

  19. s2 says:

    i once ordered from a now defunct vendor some electronic parts. Their site said it was in stock and a email to their customer noservice confirmed that the items were in stock. Any order placed before 2pm would go out that day. They were on the west coast (i’m on the east) and opted for the 2-day shipping since UPS ground usually takes 5-6 days. 2-day was an extra $12 if i recall correctly, overnight was an extra $30 (!). My total shipping came to something like $45 because it was somewhat heavy.

    Well it was out of stock and they didn’t tell me. Instead i get a email with a tracking number from UPS late in the day after i placed my order. What they did is drop ship it from their supplier but when ahead and sent me the tracking number. Five days of checking my shipping status at UPS and it always said “billing information received”. I finally got my stuff two weeks after my initial order. The supplier shipped UPS ground. The worst part is the supplier is in ohio so their shipping cost was no where near what i paid.

    At least i got my shipping refunded.

  20. peebozi says:

    it was only $2 more. i blame the OP.

  21. miss_chevious says:

    In my experience, Target shipping is particularly egregious in terms of (a) knowing when your stuff will be shipped, (b) how quickly, (c) where it is in the delivery route, and (d) when it will arrive. I ordered two rugs from them and despite the fact that I paid for 1 day shipping, one arrived a week later and the other arrived a month (!) later. During that time, the online information about the status of my order was never accurate, and the customer service was, as another poster said, unable to do anything except read me what the online account status said. The good news is that all of my shipping fees were refunded after some persistence.

    Lesson learned: as much as I love Target stores, shipping is not Target online’s strong suit.