I decide to test how well ordering canned food from Sam’s Club worked. My intent was to answer the question: If I feared TEOTWAWKI was coming, would it make sense to order food from Sam’s Club?
The Samsclub.com website has three delivery methods when you order: local delivery, which may be via Instacart, shipping, and curbside pickup. I live too far from a store to have the local delivery option, and I don’t want to drive there, so my option is shipping, which turned out to be via Fedex. Ordering fresh vegetables and meats is prohibited for shipped orders, but pantry foods are still an option.
I placed an order in the wee hours of the morning a week ago Thursday. The order had eight separate items but ten total pieces, meaning I ordered two six-packs of canned chicken and two six-packs of corned beef hash. Both of these are staple foods in our pantry. Shipping was free because of my membership level. The website said my order would be delivered by Wednesday of the following week.
My initial impression was that would not be soon enough if we were in the middle of some disaster.
Seeing that I placed my order at around 1 a.m. on Thursday, I expected it to ship that day. It shipped on Friday. They split the order and shipped from two different locations.
Half the order shipped from a warehouse in my state and, according to Fedex, it should have arrived Saturday. It left the local depot but never made it to my neck of the woods. Maybe that was because of the snow, even though we only got a few inches.
The other order shipped on Friday for delivery Monday. It shipped from Massachusetts and made it to a Fedex facility in Connecticut. Last weekend, the Northeast got hit by a raging blizzard and my shipment didn’t move for several days. I received an email On Monday informing me that bad weather delayed my shipment.
Monday came and went, with no delivery of either shipment. I checked tracking and the order in Connecticut was stuck in a Fedex Location in Connecticut and the delivery date was pending. OK, I’ve seen the headlines and know they were hammered by a blizzard, but I also know that the interstates are open.
The other package moved just 144 miles on Monday and did not make it to my house. It finally arrived on Tuesday. The remaining package left Connecticut late Monday night and arrived on Wednesday evening. The driver could have placed the package in the carport, but he left it on the porch in the rain. Thanks, Fedex.
At least seven of the 12 cans of chicken I received were dented, on the bottom and the side. This is a concern because those cans have the pull-top lids, which are not as strong as cans for which you must use a can opener. The dents cause me concern because it could be a source of weakness. After this experience, I am glad I did not order spaghetti sauce or anything else in a glass bottle.
Sam’s Club had packed their boxes with those plastic balloons, but at least half were deflated when I opened the box, no doubt popped by the heavy cans banging against them during shipment. (And this was the package that traveled the shortest distance.) I think the puffy peanuts would have done a better job of protecting the contents. Some additional corrugated inside to keep the cans from slamming into each other would not have hurt.
The best by dates were well into the future, which is good news. The chicken had the shortest day, November 2023, and the hash was dated January 2024, a full three years in the future. The roast beef was dated March 2024. I will consider myself lucky if we don’t need to eat these sooner due to food shortages, hyperinflation, or a SHTF situation.
Using the Sam’s Club website was easy and checkout was fast. I like that you can remove things from your cart “for later.” Only one Item I attempted to buy was out of stock, which isn’t bad given the state of the supply chain. Two items I ordered, Macadamia nuts and corned beef hash, are not available in my nearest club, so I was happy to find them online.
In my opinion, Sam’s Club needs to step up its shipping game. Their packages should have shipped the same day I placed the order and they need to do a better job packing the boxes. There is no reason bulky items should be in a large box, bumping about and slamming into each other as they travel across the country. I have ordered other canned foods from other online suppliers without experiencing the same kind of shipping damage.
I will not blame the Sam’s for the snow delays because bad weather is out of their control, but I will note that if they items had shipped the day, I ordered them (and I placed my order at 1 a.m., so there was plenty of time) at least one and probably both packages would have missed the snow storm and subsequent delays.
My shipping experience might have been better if I had stuck with soft goods like paper towels and Kleenex, or lighter goods like a case of Ramen. Of course, it might have been worse if I had ordered things in jars.
I like Fedex and they often deliver a day faster than UPS, but the driver that left my package out in the rain deserves the several nasty names I called him in behind his back.
I rate this experience 3 out of 5 pickles. Not terrible, but far from great. Definitely room for improvement.
Is it a Prepping Option?
What’s the answer to the question I posed at the top of this article?
If I feared TEOTWAWKI was coming in a matter of days, I would order from Sam’s Club and do curbside pickup rather than wait for Fedex shipping. I also would not hesitate to do the same-day delivery method if I were in their delivery area. Both methods would be faster and should avoid the dented can and soggy box problem.
Buying online with Fedex shipping might be a good fall back or a Hail Mary if I were in a pinch. I would use it to bulk up items or order things that were not in stock in my nearest store, which is more than an hour away. I would not rely on it for must-have items.
This service is fine if you have time on your hands.
Next month, I might test Costco’s online ordering and shipping. They offer a two-day shipping option. We’ll see if they do any better.