We Spent $4,000 on Pellet Grills to Document the Shipping Experience
You want a pellet grill, but what about the shipping? Is it painless? Over the past 3 years, the pellet grill market has exploded in growth. Partially as a result of this, and partially as a further cause of the growth, you can now find pellet grills in normal retail stores. This wasn’t always the case.
Five years ago, if you wanted a good pellet grill, you either bought from a manufacturer’s website, from a specialty Patio and Outdoor store, or perhaps from Amazon. Now, though, you can find a myriad of brands and models in your local big-box stores–from Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target to Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and even your local Ace Hardware.
Buying Online vs. A Box Store
Buying locally has one distinct advantage over ordering a grill: it’s immediate. You get to take your new baby home. Many stores will even put them together for you but BEWARE this convenience. (We’ll talk about why you should assemble your own grill later in this article.)
For many of us, though, we like buying online. Perhaps Amazon has a better price than your local store. You may not live in an area that has stores that sell pellet grills. Maybe the local store only carries Traeger or Pit Boss and you want another brand. Or maybe you’re a member of Amazon Prime or have an Amazon Store card and would like to take advantage of their flexible no-interest financing options or rewards. Whatever your reasons, you can get a pellet grill shipped to you. But there’s a large difference between buying a pellet grill online and another normal product: THEY ARE VERY LARGE AND HEAVY. The process is painless, but it is slightly different than ordering a new air fryer.
We spent over $4,000 online buying new pellet grills, and we documented the process from purchase to delivery. We ordered via Amazon or direct from the manufacturer and had them delivered to a residential address. Hopefully we can take some of the fear of the unknown out of the process for you. We’ll cover the shipping process or pellet grills ordered from direct from the manufacturer, and then we’ll illustrate the shipping process from Amazon.
Questions We Will Answer
Will Amazon ship a pellet grill? (We’ll answer this now: Yes, they do.)
Do they charge extra?
How does it arrive?
How long does it take?
Can I track my shipment?
What can I expect on delivery day?
What does LTL mean?
Can I return it and how?
Pellet Grills we Ordered:
GMG Davey Crockett from Amazon Free shipping. Ordered Aug 2 and shipped to a home address. Received via FedEx (tracking available) to doorstep in one strapped box on Aug 5.
Z Grills from Amazon Free shipping. Ordered Aug 2 and shipped to a home address via FedEx. Tracking available on Amazon when shipped on Aug 5.
RECTEQ RT-700 Free shipping. Ordered directly from recteq and shipped to a home address, via LTL freight in 5 days.
Traeger Timberline 1300 $50 shipping cost. Shipped via UPS ground, 7 days. “We use UPS Ground shipping for most internet orders. Deliveries take an average of 7 business days to arrive. Orders can take up to 24 hours to process, and may not ship until the following business day.”
The Shipping Process, After Your Order (Small-Medium grills)
Once you click “Buy” on a website, be it Amazon, a big box store, or directly with a manufacturer, what happens next? Basically, this:
The Shipper gets the order
A Tracking number is given, either from the Shipper, from the Retailer (like Amazon) or both.
Your grill is shipped
This seems like a normal ordering process. But there is one big caveat: shipping weight. Normal UPS or FedEx delivery has a weight limit. The drivers in those trucks can carry a box from their truck to your house, within reason. The Green Mountain and ZGrills, ordered from Amazon, shipped this way. See details on the information provided during the process below. Very simple and straightforward.
Pellet grills, however, are often outside of this maximum shipping weight for UPS or FedEx. Your grill, then, is often shipped via a 3rd-party shipper, and is often classified as an LTL shipment. LTL means Less Than a Truckload.
Pellet Grills via LTL/Freight Shipments
With larger grills (most grills), you’ll be receiving a pallet, offloaded from a truck via LTL Freight. The shipper will give you a tracking number that usually will END at the arrival at the local LTL freight carrier. Tracking is NOT available after this point. Rather, the freight carrier will be reaching out to you to schedule a delivery window. They MUST be able to contact you.
Freight companies will deliver as close as their truck will allow, so if you have a steep/narrow driveway, you may have to meet them and haul the grill the rest of the way. They will be offloading, sometimes, a pallet with the grill box strapped to it.
the seller/shipper will give you an estimate or tracking to the freight terminal
after arriving at the freight terminal, the grill is subject to the freight carrier’s timeframe, and is outside of the control of the seller/original shipper
the carrier will give you an estimated delivery window, either by email or phone
the carrier probably will not deliver outside of normal work hours.
often they will deliver the pallet to the end of the driveway, with the driver possibly able to use hand trucks or a pallet jack to get it to your garage/house (this is not guaranteed, though)
plan on having at least two able-bodied people to carry the box (off the pallet) to an area for assembly, like a patio or garage
inspect the outside of the box before they leave. Take pics of any damage.
keep the pallet and all packaging (for now)
Cost to ship: Often free/included Return Policy: contact seller (not necessarily manufacturer) Delivery Experience: tracking provided
Cost to ship: $150-200, but often free Return Policy: see website/call Delivery Experience: tracking provided, LTL known by shipper
Cost to ship: N/A or included Return Policy: usually to store, not manufacturer Delivery Experience: can pay for delivery, otherwise, have a truck/large SUV
Online from Box Store
Cost to ship: varies, sometimes free (ship to store) Return Policy: to local store, usually Delivery Experience: varies, or pickup at store
What to Expect on Delivery Day
On delivery day, make sure you are going to be home to receive the delivery. They WILL NOT leave it without you present. Also, make sure you have the means to carry a heavy (often 150-200 lbs) box off the pallet, if hand trucks can’t wheel the pallet to your garage. Make sure you have a space for the pallet/box. While you can leave it in your driveway, it would stink to have a thunderstorm soak your new grill in the box.
What About Returns?
First things first: Keep all the packing material, including the pallet, until you’re sure everything is okay.
Details on returns are going to vary greatly. For this reason, make sure you ask up front and are aware of what a return may entail before you buy. When buying online, you may have bought from a seller that is not the manufacturer. This could complicate things, as returns may go back to them or possibly back to the manufacturer, depending upon the reason. Full returns are rare, but certainly possible. They will not, however, be easy.
Far more likely is that you have damage or a faulty part to take care of. But find out what happens if you decide to return a grill unused. What happens if you decide to return it after using it once or more? (Note: According to the sparse info we’ve found on the topic, neither Home Depot nor Lowe’s will take back a used grill.) Who pays for shipping on a return? Must you clean it? Disassemble it? (Note: we have first-hand knowledge that recteq means what it says when it claims 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed: it will take a return, fully assembled, greasy and used, with no packing material, if no other means of attempting to satisfy the customer are sufficient. Your experience may vary. Being nice helps.)
Why You’re Safe
Fortunately, you have two things going for you to make a full return of a grill unlikely. First, our reviews should have you confident that you’ll like your grill. And second, most manufacturers will do whatever it takes to make things right if there is a faulty part or defect in their grill. They’ll send you replacement parts and walk you through fixes.
Amazon is pretty notorious for making things right with its customers, but how that happens may vary. How you pack up and ship a 200-pound grill is something that you need to think about, in case you need to do a full return. In most cases outside of a full return, you’re going to be dealing with the manufacturer to resolve repair or replacement issues.
Box stores are going to be similar, but your return to a retail outlet is going to be much simpler. Repairs and replacements are most likely going to be directly with the manufacturer.