Placing Orders

About secure servers and online ordering
Why is your website refusing my credit card?
Can I order over the telephone?
What is your refund / exchange policy?
When will you charge my credit card?

U.S. Shipping

Transit Times
When will you ship my order?
Can I have my order shipped by FedEx or Priority Mail?
How long will it take to get my order via UPS Ground?
How do you handle backorders?

International Shipping

About International Shipping
About UPS
About the US Postal Service
If your USPS package is taking longer than you think it should...
How much are customs duties and taxes?
What are my options to Canada?
Can you claim my package has a lower value than it really does?





About secure servers and online ordering

Occasionally someone will tell us that they feel uncomfortable entering their credit card information online. This is usually a result of all of the attention surrounding online fraud and identity theft, so it's understandable. However, a clearer understanding of the online credit card transaction process may help to alleviate some concerns.

Online ordering via a secure server is just that: secure. Much more secure than handing a credit card to a waiter at a restaurant, or to a furniture store salesperson. When you see the padlock icon in your web browser, this is an indication that the page is secured by encryption. When you click on the padlock, you'll find that a window pops up with details of the SSL certificate that verifies the page's security, and you can verify that the certificate is valid and current by reading the brief details provided.

This certificate is reliable. There's a process that a company like ToneShapers goes through to get this on their web server, and it involves long strings of code that are computer-generated (security keys) which are simply beyond the ability of humans to forge. These pairs of keys are installed on the merchant's web server and the certificate-issuing CA's (Certificate Authority) servers in an arcane process, and guarantees via fairly bulletproof algorithms that your data is encrypted and secure. These encryption algorithms are routinely tested using computers that try to crack them, and for all practical purposes they can be considered to be un-crackable.

The level of security provided by this process is so high that the banking industry regularly transmits secure data across computer networks (the Internet) with little concern that the data will be compromised. When we say "regularly", what we mean is that every second, there are go-zillions of bytes of secure data flowing across the Internet. And yes, go-zillions is a real number.

When you pay at a restaurant with your credit card, your data is transmitted across the Internet for verification and authorization. When you pay with your credit card at Home Depot, your data is transmitted across the Internet for verification and authorization. When you pay with your credit card at the doctor's office, your data is transmitted across the Internet for verification and authorization. The Internet is, after all, the manner in which all of these businesses are connected to each other and to the banking system. Even your bank almost certainly uses "tunneling" protocols and virtual private networks (VPNs) to connect its various branches via the Internet.

So make no mistake, nearly every single time you use a credit or debit card, your data is flowing across the Internet. But here's the beauty of the system: no humans are involved. Because it's those pesky humans that are responsible for almost all security breaches:

Humans who work for commercial institutions that process credit card data - who should know better, but who become complacent, or who are not well-trained (or monitored) - use weak passwords to secure access to data, and then further compromise the data's security by sharing the passwords with colleagues, or by transmitting them in clear text (unencrypted email) across the Internet, where they can be intercepted. Oh, and they sometimes fail to secure hardware - like laptops - allowing data to be stolen.

Humans respond to "phishing" emails like this one: "Hi! We're (an organized crime syndicate on the Dark Web posing as) Citibank. Say, did you know that your Citi account has been compromised? Better fix that right away, by going to this webpage (which we've cleverly disguised to look just like a Citibank webpage) to correct the situation. You'll need to login using your Citi username and password, which will allow us to steal, er, that is, verify your login credentials and restore your account to an uncompromised condition!"

Humans give their credit card to the human sales rep at the furniture store, who walks to an area where the customer isn't observing him, copies their card number/expiration/CVV number, then returns the card to them. Then, armed with that additional and handy information known as the cardholder's name and address, goes on a spending spree until caught and arrested. (Actual example as related by a friend.)

Data gets stolen, we've all read about it. But it's the humans you have to watch out for, you just can't trust 'em. Transmitting encrypted data across the Internet, on the other hand, is many orders of magnitude safer.


Why is your website refusing my credit card?

Billing Address Not Entered Correctly

A common problem that we see is when a customer inadvertently enters their shipping address as the billing address. For instance, if you want us to ship to your office and you enter this address as the billing address, the card will be rejected (unless your office address is also the card's billing address). If you're going to enter separate billing and shipping addresses, be sure that the billing address you enter is in fact the address where you receive your credit card statement.

Address Verification System Failure

Our credit card processor uses the Address Verification System (AVS) to verify certain pieces of information (such as address and zip code) on every transaction. This system helps protect Internet merchants from credit card fraud.

When you enter an order on our website and pay with a credit card, the transaction details are forwarded to the card-issuing bank (your bank). Your bank accepts or declines the transaction based on their own criteria (funds availability, card status, etc.), but they also return an AVS code to our bank that indicates how well the address you provided matches up with the address they have on file for this card. There are many AVS codes that may be returned (search for "avs codes" online for a list), and our bank then makes an accept/decline decision based on this code and other factors.

Most of the time, cards fail because some piece of information does not match what the card-issuing bank has on file. If you have recently moved, for instance, and the issuing bank still has your old address on file, but you enter your new address, the card will be rejected. Understand that small inconsistencies (such as entering 7802 Any Street while your bank thinks you live at 7802 Any Road) won't cause the card to fail, the banks realize that these sorts of things are bound to happen. They're more interested in whether the street number and zip code match.

When we tell customers their transaction failed because of AVS, customers often respond that they can use the card successfully with other retailers. There are several reasons why this might be the case. First, AVS is only used by online retailers, as an added measure of security since the card is "absent". In card-present situations, such as at a restaurant or at Home Depot, they're not using AVS, so the fact that the card works there is not relevant. If the card can be used successfully at other online retailers, then one of two things is occurring: either the retailer's card processor isn't using AVS (unlikely), or they're less conservative than our card processor and are allowing transactions even though the address doesn't match what the bank has on file. Our processor doesn't give us the option of circumventing this situation though, if the address doesn't match, then they're not accepting the risk whether ToneShapers likes it or not.

The easy solution here is to call your bank at the customer service number on the back of the card and get them to change the address on file, since the AVS code they're supplying to us is the same as the code they're supplying to everyone else. Note that we've seen situations where the customer was receiving their statement correctly, but somewhere in the bank's records was another address for this customer, and this was the address being used for AVS. We even saw one case where a customer had applied for a card while living at his current address, had received every statement at this address, but the bank had other addresses in its records from older accounts, and was using one of these older addresses for AVS. A quick phone call to the bank will resolve this issue.

Consequences of an AVS Failure - Funds Debiting

Understand that your bank may accept a transaction while our bank declines it. For instance, if your bank accepts the transaction but returns an AVS code of "N" (no address match), then our bank will decline the transaction because it is deemed a poor risk. In this case your bank will have debited your funds availability for this transaction, but you will not ultimately be charged for it.

In other words, your bank has been presented with a transaction, and they have looked at your card balance and credit limit and confirmed that you have sufficient funds available on the card for the transaction. They have approved it. They assume therefore that a charge for that amount will be presented by our bank within the ensuing several days, so they reduce your funds availability on the card by this amount. If you try the card again and the same thing happens, then they will assume that two transactions will now be presented by our bank, so they will reduce your available funds again.

However, because your bank returned an "N" AVS code, our bank has declined the transaction, and so to them the transaction is dead and will never be presented for payment. Your bank doesn't know this, so the debit on your funds availability will remain in place for some specified period of time, then will fall off automatically when no charge is actually presented by our bank. This time period varies from one bank to another, but generally it's 48-72 hours.

If your credit card is already charged nearly to its limit, then this debiting of your funds availability might mean that even if you sort out the AVS issue with your bank, you will no longer have available funds with which to make a purchase. For instance, if you have a $1000 limit and a $500 balance, and you present a $300 transaction which your bank approves but ours declines, then your bank will now show only $200 available. So if you were to retry the $300 transaction, your bank would decline it because your available credit is less than $300. Of course, since our bank declined the transaction, it will fall off automatically in a few days, and then you would be able to retry the transaction.

This can be infuriating, knowing that your available funds are being tied up for several days by transactions that are already dead and will never be presented. So if you run into this then let us know, we may be able to call (or fax a letter to) your bank stating that as the merchant, we won't be presenting the transaction for payment. This will usually be sufficient to have them remove the funds debit. However, we cannot research this for you, it will be up to you to provide us with the following: an appropriate phone or fax number and (if possible), a contact name at your bank; your name; and the amount of the debit[s] you want removed. We can login to our bank's website and confirm that the transaction has been declined, and then we will contact your bank.


Can I order over the telephone?

Absolutely! We love all orders, even ones that come in over the phone!


What is your refund / exchange policy?

Within 15 days of the date you receive your order, you may return as-new, unaltered merchandise in its original packaging (where applicable) for a refund. All returns are subject to a 15% restocking charge. This fee will be waived for unopened merchandise in new condition.

Within 15 days of the date you receive your order, we will exchange as-new, unaltered merchandise in its original packaging (where applicable) dollar-for-dollar for new merchandise. There is no service charge, but you will need to pay all shipping costs.


When will you charge my credit card?

If you select the credit card payment option during checkout, then your card will be charged immediately upon completing the transaction.


When will you ship my order?

Our shipping cutoff is 2 PM Eastern time. If you place an order by this time, in most cases it will ship the same day. Orders placed after 2 PM will typically ship the following business day, but if you need something to go out in an expedited manner, please call and speak with us about it (please don't email), and we'll do our best to accommodate your requirements.

We do not ship on weekends or on most US holidays. Most of our shipments are made via the USPS, though we also offer UPS and FedEx shipping. The USPS has about 10 days each year that they're closed, so if your order is placed on one of those days, it will not ship that day. For a list of USPS holidays, please see their website (type USPS holidays into a search engine).

UPS and FedEx are typically closed on the major US holidays only, and there are typically six of these each year. But there are also sometimes days surrounding major holidays when they only process air shipments. Check their websites for details.

If you need to receive an order by a certain date, please allow sufficient processing and transit time. If you're unsure of the transit time, please call us to discuss it. USPS Priority Mail will typically take 2-3 business days in the US, though the USPS makes no guarantees. A delivery map for UPS and FedEx Ground shipments can be viewed here. International transit times vary widely. Again, please call in advance if you have an urgent or specific need.


What shipping options do you offer?

We ship via UPS and the US Postal Service. If an option you want to use is not shown during checkout, call us and we'll see if we can make it happen.


How do you handle backorders?

Tone Shapers strives to maintain a 100% fill rate, but mistakes occasionally get made and an item count gets out of sync. If your order includes and item that we're out of, then we'll contact you to find out how you'd like for us to handle it.


About International Shipping

ToneShapers ships to most countries. International customers can go through the checkout on our website, where you'll be presented with appropriate UPS and US Postal Service shipping options and prices. Payment may be made via Visa/MasterCard, PayPal, or bank wire transfer. International wire transfers cost us $20 (assessed by our bank) which will be added to your order. If you want to pay by wire transfer, please email us for more information.

International shipping is fraught with headaches, which is why many US merchants won't ship internationally. The costs can be high, and there is usually some extra paperwork required. Additionally, many consumers have a vague idea of how fees are assessed, so their perception can be that the merchant is charging an exorbitant amount and that they're getting ripped off. So here's a little clarification of the process and the expenses.

International Shipping Options

Tone Shapers ships with UPS (United Parcel Service) and the US Postal Service. When you checkout on our website, you'll be presented with available UPS and USPS shipping options and prices.

About UPS

UPS offers some benefits to you that you may not be aware of, though their prices will usually be higher than the US Postal Service. Since UPS brokers their own packages, they offer an end-to-end shipping solution for international customers. UPS picks the package up from us and delivers it directly to you, the package is never out of their possession or their system. Consequently, there is total visibility into the package's whereabouts and delivery status at all times. This virtually eliminates customs delays, which we regularly encounter with mail shipments, as they typically involve at least four government agencies: US Postal Service, US Customs, destination country postal service, destination country customs). Additionally, we use the UPS service to email tracking information to customers when packages ship, so you can track the package at any time from any web browser in the world.

Typically, UPS Worldwide Express delivery times are quicker than air shipments with the US Postal Service, with delivery times of 2-4 days rather than 3-10 days. And again, customs delays are usually not an issue with UPS since they carry the package end-to-end.

The shipping fee you pay when you place an order on our website includes brokerage fees (except with UPS Standard to Canada, see more below). However, because UPS brokers the package, they have to pay any duties/taxes due the government before delivering the package to you. They charge a fee for this that varies depending on the country, usually it's a small percentage of the value but it can also be a set amount if the value of the package falls below a certain minimum. When they deliver the package to you, you'll be responsible to pay any duties/customs that they've prepaid the government, plus their fee (for more detail, please visit the UPS website and select your country from the menu).

About the US Postal Service

Shipping via international mail can be problematic because there's not always good visibility into a package's whereabouts. There are typically four government agencies involved (the postal authority and the customs authority for each country), and these agencies often don't have good visibility into each others' computer systems. So a package might fall off the tracking interface for a week or so, and there's usually no way to know whether it's in the U.S. or in the destination country. While most mail gets through in roughly the time stated, it does sometimes take longer than expected. And while a lot of international mail is trackable, it's not the same level of tracking that couriers like UPS and FedEx offer, where they keep the package in their possession from end to end, and the whereabouts of the package are always known and the tracking log regularly updated. With international mail, the tracking is often very spotty, because the US Postal Service website only shows data that's been reported back to it from the destination country.

We offer several levels of international mail service:

Priority Mail Express International (3-5 day delivery typical)

  • Most expensive
  • Fastest
  • Trackable
  • Insured

Priority Mail International (6-10 day delivery typical)

  • Moderately priced
  • Slower
  • Trackable, but not always updated in a timely fashion
  • Insured

First Class Mail International (varies by location)

  • Cheap!
  • Slowest
  • Not Trackable
  • Not Insured

Our Priority Mail rates include insurance and delivery confirmation. Mail packages will be trackable via the USPS website.

If your USPS package is taking longer than you think it should...

then check your local post office. Many times we've had customers email that they discovered that their undelivered package was sitting at the post office, simply waiting to be claimed by them. This usually happens because of some issue with the address, or because there are duties that need to be paid. Most of the time our customers had received no notification that the package was there, no delivery attempt was made that they were aware of, but when they went looking for the package it was readily found.

A number of times we've had packages returned undelivered, with stamps and labels from the destination country stating that they were unable to deliver the package, or it was unclaimed. Click the images below, and you'll see a couple of these. One went to South Korea, where it was marked as being unclaimed (Non réclamé), and that the address was insufficient (Adresse insuffisante), though we later confirmed that the package was addressed exactly as the customer provided it. That doesn't mean that there was a problem with the address, it could have been human error on the part of someone at the Korean postal authority. In any case, the package arrived back here in Florida just over 6 months after we shipped it.

The second package was not claimed by the recipient in the UK. Royal Mail stamps indicate that customs fees were due, and that the package was unclaimed. Again, roughly 6 months later it showed up in our mailbox.

returned package returned package returned package returned package
Your package is not in Miami!

We understand: You looked at the USPS tracking site, and the last entry was Miami (or some other city in the USA), so it appears that the package is still in the USA, and it's been a couple of weeks!

Here's the problem: First Class Mail and Priority Mail Flat Rate carry no requirement for the destination country to notify the USPS when the package crosses its border. The reason for this is price. These two mail classes are cheaper than normal (non-flat-rate) Priority Mail - and cheaper than the various Express Mail classes - because services have been stripped out of them. So the package leaves our building, and two days later it is scanned in Miami or some other US city, and within another day or two it is delivered to customs in the destination country. Maybe it gets delayed in customs for some reason. Or maybe it just goes to the local post office, but is not delivered to the customer (like the two packages in the images above). A couple of weeks go by, and the customer looks at the USPS tracking logs and sees that the last entry was here in the USA, and so they assume that the package is still here.

But it's not. It's in the destination country. So we ask the customer to go the local post office and ask about it. Some do, and we've had many reports from customers who asked about their package at their post office, and it was found. But we think probably some customers don't physically go to their post office. Maybe they think we're just passing the buck (we've all had people do this), or they may just think it's a hassle to go to the post office. Maybe they call their post office, provide the tracking number, and the employee there looks at it in the computer, sees it was last scanned in Miami, and says "It's in Miami. Have the shipper contact the USPS".

So we urge you again: Go to the post office. Try to get a helpful and interested postal employee to actually go look for you. Here in the US, some USPS employees are super helpful, while others cannot be bothered to make much of an effort at all. But if you find someone who is willing to do a little digging, they'll often be met with success.

If your package is lost...

then we'll do what we can to locate it, and packages will be re-shipped if they cannot be found. If your package hasn't been delivered in 5 days (Express Mail) or 10 days (Priority Mail), then please contact your local post office to see if the package is there. You can find the tracking or delivery-confirmation number by logging into your account on our website, and looking at the order details. If your post office cannot locate the package, then let us know and we'll contact the USPS International Service Center to have them try to locate the package. There will be a lead time involved while they contact the destination country's postal authority and while that postal authority searches for the package. This lead time can be as long as 21 days. If we hear back that the package is lost, then we'll re-ship the order where possible, or refund your payment.

If the original package shows up after we've re-shipped the order...

then please keep the first shipment you receive, and refuse the second one. Refusing the second shipment - whether it's the original order or the re-shipped order - will result in it being returned to us at no expense or hassle to either you or us.


How much are customs duties and taxes?

Sorry, no getting around this one. Your order will probably be charged customs fees (taxes, duties) when it arrives. Unfortunately, we have no control over these fees (and neither do UPS or the USPS), they're assessed by your government. If you are not familiar with the customs fees in your country, please contact your local customs office for more information.

ToneShapers has no way of estimating customs fees, taxes, duties, etc., so we won't be able to give you a quote. Please contact your local customs office for more information.

The shipping charges you pay to ToneShapers do NOT include customs fees, import taxes, or duties (though brokerage fees are included on UPS air shipments). If you refuse to pay the customs fees when your order arrives, the shipment will be returned to ToneShapers and we may be charged for customs fees and/or return shipping costs. If any such fees are assessed, they will be deducted from any refund due.


What are my options to Canada?

Due to NAFTA, shipments of US-made products to Canada are duty-free. This will apply to all shipments from ToneShapers.

UPS Standard
Ground service. Delivery times vary depending on your distance from Florida (where we are). Brokerage fees not included, you will have to pay brokerage fees (plus a couple of other UPS fees) in addition to GST and PST (or QST). We would suggest that you consider Worldwide Express or one of the US Postal Service options rather than UPS Standard, as they're often cheaper in the long run, and almost always faster.

UPS Worldwide Express
Next-business-day delivery to Canada. Brokerage is included, but UPS does charge a fee for fronting the taxes that are due to the Canadian government. That is, because UPS brokers the package, they pay all monies due the Canadian government (GST and PST or QST) in advance, then are reimbursed by you when they deliver the package. They charge a modest fee for this, so you will be responsible for this fee plus the tax amount upon delivery.

US Postal Service Priority Mail Express International
3-6 day delivery typical. All taxes apply.

US Postal Service Priority Mail International
4-10 day delivery typical. All taxes apply.


Can you claim my package has a lower value than it really does?

No, no, no, no, no.


We get asked to do this all the time, but we cannot, because if we get caught doing it then the US government won't just look the other way. We're a business, and we're expected to conduct ourselves accordingly, and committing fraud so that our customers can save on their taxes is a serious and prosecutable offense. The US government takes these matters seriously, and your government might also.

We would love to help you save money, but we will not risk incurring legal problems to do it. We hope you'll understand.