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How to Prepare for an Unprecedented Holiday Shopping Season

November 10th, 2022 Comments off

Inflation and supply chain issues are slated to continue affecting the holiday season. Traditionally, the holiday shopping season is the most eventful time of year for businesses. However, with ongoing financial difficulties for customers and merchants alike, your customers are going to be cutting back on their holiday purchases. This means your business needs to listen to your customers and not be afraid to let them lead the way while organizing your holiday sales strategy. Back in August, we partnered with Retail Economics and surveyed merchants and customers about their plans for this year’s holiday season and found a disconnect in expectations. We’re going to share all of these findings with you as well as tips for reframing your sales plans to better reflect the sentiment of customers. 

Download our free report below for more holiday shipping insights!

The Disconnect Between Merchants and Customers 

One of the most important things to note about our findings is the current disconnect between merchants and customers. Here are a few of the main areas of contrast: 

  • 58% of customers say they plan to cut back on holiday shipping while 50% of merchants expect to increase their sales to increase this holiday season. 
  • 30.3% of customers say the cost of shipping is the biggest factor when deciding whether or not to buy from a business, but 34.7% of merchants plan to increase their shipping costs to offset inflation and other financial difficulties we’re facing this holiday season. 
  • 20.8% of customers say the delivery timeframe is the most important factor when considering a purchase, but 26.2% of merchants plan to update their shipping timeframes to offset costs. 

Customers are making their expectations and holiday shopping plans clear. For a successful holiday shopping season, your business may need to better align with your customers. For example, let your customers’ buying habits dictate your inventory strategies. Pay attention to which items are selling and which aren’t as well as the rate at which your products are selling to avoid a large amount of unsold inventory at the end of the season. Also, consider cutting costs in other areas by ordering free packaging from USPS and other carriers where available instead of increasing your customers’ shipping costs and/or using services with longer delivery windows. 

Where are Customers Planning to Cut Back?

58% of customers are planning to cut back on their holiday shipping, but where are these cuts going to occur? Out of our surveyed customers, three areas of products ranked the highest: 

  • Apparel – 26% 
  • Electronics – 22.3%
  • Toys – 20.9% 

If your business focuses on apparel, electronics, and/or toys, don’t panic. These insights are meant to help your business adjust your holiday shipping plan to better fit that of your customers. For businesses in these categories, we recommend focusing on promotions and deals. Look for bundling and discount opportunities for your products. For example, if your customer buys a pair of pants, run a promotion where another clothing product is free or heavily discounted. Your customers are going to be looking for deals wherever available, so your business may need to offer additional promotions to compete with other retailers. 

What Factors Do Customers Consider When Planning Their Purchases?

We’ve mentioned how and where customers are going to cut back on their purchases, but let’s shift the focus for a moment. When customers are purchasing gifts this year, what are their expectations? And, how can your business get your customers to complete their purchases? Here’s a breakdown of the contributing factors customers said determine whether or not they purchase from a business: 

  • Cost of delivery – 30.3%
  • Speed of delivery – 20.8% 
  • Convenient delivery – 18.7%
  • Convenient returns – 18.3%
  • Visibility  – 14.5% 
  • Carbon footprint – 10.4% 

Your customers are paying attention to their available shipping options and the features of each shipping option as well as your returns process. Now is the time to review all of the carrier services on your website. Check to see which shipping options have available tracking. Review the delivery window for each service to see how it coincides with the holiday season. Walkthrough your site from your customer’s viewpoint to see if you would be satisfied with all of the services provided. If you feel like your website needs a refresh, we’re going to help you with guidance on how to better implement customer expectations this holiday season. 

Download our free report below!

How to Save on Shipping Costs

When 30.3% of customers say the cost of shipping is one of the biggest contributing factors to whether or not they purchase from your store, your current shipping costs are worth looking into. Rising prices are affecting you as well as your customers. But, with the rates you get from USPS and UPS as a user, you can avoid raising shipping costs for your customers. 


As of October 19, 2022, offers users lower USPS rates than ever before. You can expect up to 84% off retail rates and 15% off Commerical Plus Pricing (CPP) on Priority Mail, so the savings will add up with higher holiday shipping volumes. These rates will help you offer your customers reliable services like Priority Mail where they can track their packages and get their gifts usually within a 1-3 delivery window without having to raise your prices. Also, Priority Mail shipments can be shipped until Monday, December 19 and still arrive in time for Christmas, so your last-minute shoppers can utilize this service as well. 

UPS® users can also expect up to 88% off UPS International Services, 72% off Next Day Air and 2nd Day Air, and 77% off UPS Ground. This way, you can offer affordable shipping costs to all of your customers, including those who are looking for international shipping options.

Rate Advisor 

Our Rate Advisor will show you the cheapest shipping option available for your shipment as well as our recommendations and the fastest shipping options. Not only can you compare your shipping options, but once an option is selected, it will automatically show on your order where it’s ready to print. This way, you can choose the best shipping option for each shipment, depending on your customer’s needs. With the help of Rate Advisor, you can keep your shipping rates the same because you don’t have to select the same service for every shipment, and your customers will thank you. 

This is how Rate Advisor will appear on Online.

How to Offer Free Shipping 

As we’ve mentioned, customers take shipping costs highly into consideration when making purchases. Another way to gain an advantage over your competitors and align with customer expectations is to offer free shipping. During the holiday season, customers expect deals and promotions. However, with the rise of big marketplaces like Amazon giving customers the option for free shipping year-round, it’s worth considering free shipping during the holidays if your business is able. If you aren’t sure where to start, we’re going to give you a few tips on how to offer free shipping for this holiday season and beyond. 

Free Shipping Over a Certain Threshold 

Customers will be more likely to complete their purchase if there’s free shipping available, even if it’s over a certain threshold. With ongoing economic hardships, your business may need to choose between not raising shipping costs for customers and offering free shipping. A good compromise is to offer free shipping over a certain threshold. For example, you could offer free shipping for customers who purchase over $50 of products or more. During the holiday season, customers will be on the lookout for stocking stuffers and last-minute gifts, so they’re more likely to add items to their cart if it means they’ll receive free shipping. Higher sales will offset the cost of offering this free shipping. 

Social Media Promotions 

Social media is one of the most powerful tools you can use to promote your business for the holiday season; it’s also a great way to build customer engagement. Encouraging your customers to share photos of your products extends the reach to your potential customers, but how should you reward your current customers? That’s where the idea of free shipping comes in. Share exclusive codes for free shipping and discounts with your social media followers to boost your sales during the holidays. If you can’t offer free shipping to all of your customers, you can still reward your existing customers. 

How Can Help You Win This Holiday Shipping Season?

In addition to the shipping rates users can access and Rate Advisor, we have two other features designed to help you this holiday season: Branded Tracking and QR Code Returns. Returns and visibility were involved with two of the factors customers mentioned as contributors to whether or not they completed their purchases Branded Tracking gives your customers tracking information in a more personalized way, and QR Code Returns allow your customers a convenient returns process. We’ll dive more into these two features below. 

Branded Tracking

Branded Tracking notifications are customizable emails your customers receive when their packages are shipped. These notifications can include your business’s social media handles and contact information as well as the tracking link for your customer’s shipment. Including your social media handles on Branded Tracking notifications helps to promote any of the exclusive deals we mentioned in the previous section. 14.5% of customers stated tracking visibility was one of their biggest considerations when it comes to completing their purchases, and Branded Tracking helps them track their shipments with ease. 

This is a desktop preview of Branded Tracking from Online. 

QR Code Returns

Another feature we’d like to highlight is QR Code Returns. With 18.3% of customers stating that convenient returns were a major factor when deciding whether or not to purchase from a business, returns will be important this holiday season. QR Code Returns can be generated for shipments and sent directly to your customers. Once received, your customer can bring their return to USPS or UPS with the QR code to have the code scanned. After the code has been scanned, a return label will be generated, and USPS or UPS can receive your shipment. QR Code Returns make the returns process smoother for your customers because they’re able to get help directly from a carrier and don’t have to print a label in advance. 

This is an example of the QR Code Returns as it appears on Online.

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With so many financial struggles affecting the world, holiday shopping is going to look different than in years past. Your customers aren’t able to spend the same amount of money on gifts, but your business can still give them an excellent customer experience. Providing your customers with free shipping options will make purchases more likely. Using features like Rate Advisor will help you to find the most cost-efficient shipping options available, so you don’t have to raise shipping costs for your customers. Don’t be afraid to let your customers guide your business’s holiday shopping decisions. It’s more likely you’ll have a merrier holiday season if you do. 

For more holiday shipping 2022 insight, download our free ebook below!

2023 USPS Rate and Service Changes

January 20th, 2023 Comments off
Learn more about the proposed 2022 USPS Peak Surcharges.

The United States Postal Service’s 2023 rate and service changes have been approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), and the updates will take effect on January 22, 2023. We’re going to address all of the upcoming changes, so you’ll have time to adjust accordingly and prevent negative shipping experiences for your customers.

Important USPS 2023 rate and service changes

More detailed highlights of the upcoming changes are: 

  • Priority Mail® commercial rates will see an increase of 3.6%, keeping them below the rate of inflation
  • Priority Mail Express® will see an increase of 6.7%
  • First-Class Package Service will see an increase of 7.8%
  • Priority Mail service prices will see an increase of around 5.5%
  • USPS First Class Package International rates will see an increase of 6.2%
  • USPS Priority Mail International® will see an increase of 5.9%
  • USPS Priority Mail Express International® will see an increase of 5.9%
  • Zone 1, Zone 2, and Local have traditionally seen the same shipping rates. However, Local will now be combined with Zone 1, and Zones 1 and 2 will have individual rates 
  • The pricing for Parcel Select Ground won’t see any rate increases
  • Priority Mail Regional Rate Boxes® will no longer be available
  • All Canadian Zones will be combined into one pricing zone for USPS Priority Mail International
  • Commercial Base and Commercial Plus will be merged into one entity

Flat Rate Priority Mail changes

Flat Rate envelopes and boxes will be included in the 3.6% increase for Priority Mail services. USPS will continue offering Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes and boxes through their website. Also, you’ll be able to order some of these supplies directly from your account. A comparison of the 2022 and 2023 rates can be found below. 

Local Zone changes

Previously, Local, Zone 1, and Zone 2 all had the same shipping rates. Moving forward, there will no longer be a Local Zone, and Zones 1 and 2 will have two different shipping rates. If your business ships to customers who live close by or in the same state, you’ll see the impact of this change. The changes will be more noticeable when you’re shipping to customers in Zone 2, which is a 51-150 mile radius. 

Regional Rate Boxes are being retired 

Regional Rate A & B Boxes, used for 15-20 pound shipments traveling a short distance, will be discontinued. If your business uses Regional Rate Boxes after January 23, 2023, USPS will accept your shipment, but the cost won’t be calculated in the same way Regional Rate Boxes were. For this reason, USPS recommends using these materials by January 22. Additionally, check the automation rules currently running on your Online account to ensure this service isn’t applied to any of your shipments. 

Priority Mail® Cubic will still be an option for shippers, as it has seen a rise in popularity, and sometimes even offers a lower rate than what was seen with Regional Rate Boxes. The biggest difference with Priority Mail Cubic is that supplies aren’t free. For merchants who want to explore alternatives beyond USPS Cubic, Parcel Select Ground offers shippers a great value, so it’s worth looking into as a substitute for smaller and heavier domestic shipments. Parcel Select Ground offers: 

  • An estimated delivery window of 2-5 days 
  • A service for shipments up to 20 pounds 
  • Uses the Commerical rates with your account 

How will the 2023 changes impact international shipping?

The biggest change to international shipments will involve your Canadian packages. Similar to the US Zones, Canada was previously broken down into 8 different pricing groups. Now, all of Canada will fall under Pricing Group 1. Also, USPS will change Turkey to Turkiye, so don’t be alarmed if the spelling of the country is updated on your labels to reflect this update. 

How can help?

In our recent study, 30.3% of customers stated that delivery costs were the most important factor in deciding whether or not they’d purchase from a business; the second most important factor was the speed of delivery. Rising USPS costs could mean raising shipping costs for your customers. However, you can still enjoy the discounted shipping rates included with your account to help offset these costs. 

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Offering Convenient Holiday Returns

December 9th, 2022 Comments off
Learn more about offering returns this holiday season with our blog!

The closer we get to the holiday season, the more customers will visit your site. This influx of visitors means your business has the potential to increase your sales and customer base. As potential customers browse your website, they’ll investigate your return policy to decide whether or not your products will be the ones under the tree. Creating an easy-to-follow holiday return policy is a way to nudge your customers in the direction of your checkout. We’ve outlined some of the best ways to craft your holiday return policy. 

Trim your tree and holiday shipping costs with a free trial at

What is a return policy?

A return policy is a policy on your store’s website dedicated to how your business handles customer returns. These policies typically include how long customers have to return a product as well as information on how to initiate the return process. A holiday return policy is an updated version of your regular return policy with additional information for holiday shoppers. These additional pieces of information include: 

  • Whether or not your business will extend the return window for the holiday season
  • Highlighting up-to-date customer support lines 
  • Emphasizing holiday shipping deadlines
  • Outlining how your customers will initiate the return process 

Your and your customers will both be extremely busy during the holiday season, so the more information you can include throughout your site, the better. If your customers can easily find answers to their questions, it’s less likely they’ll have to reach out for clarification. Additionally, our recent study with Retail Economics found 18.3% of customers said that convenient returns were the number one reason they purchased from a business. So, creating a customer-friendly holiday return policy will benefit you and your customers alike. 

What makes a good holiday return policy?

Now that we’ve given you an idea of what a holiday return policy is, let’s dive into what will take your holiday return policy to the next level. When designing your holiday return policy, don’t read it from the perspective of your business; read it from the perspective of your customers. Pretend you’re a new customer visiting your website. Would you be able to understand the return process? If not, edit your policy to be clear and concise. We more than understand you want your customers to have as much information as possible. But sometimes, it’s better to have shorter paragraphs that are easier for your customers to understand than longer paragraphs that are hard to follow and bury crucial information. 

Next, thoroughly check your return policy to confirm everything is accurate. If your business will have an extended return policy, confirm all of the dates mentioned are correct and updated for the current holiday shipping season. The same goes for any shipping deadlines written in your return policy — you don’t want your customers to think they have more or less time to shop because the shipping deadlines are from the year before. Finally, test all of your customer service channels in advance to ensure they run smoothly. Submit any email or contact forms to see if they’re being routed to your email. Also, call your support lines to see if all the numbers are working, so your customers aren’t left hanging during the holidays. 

Holiday return policies are also a good opportunity to add information about your business that new customers might not know. Include a little excerpt of your business’s origin story and/or fun facts about your business. You can even mention any nonprofit organizations your customer works with during the holidays or even year-round. While your holiday return policy does need to be easy to navigate, that doesn’t mean it can’t be customized to help your business stands out. 

Extending your return window

58% of customers say they plan to cut back on non-essential gifts this year. This means your business needs to get customers to choose your store for the gifts they do plan on purchasing. One easy way to help customers is to extend your holiday return window to make returns easier during a stressful time of the year. Your customers might be traveling for the holidays and/or experiencing inclement weather conditions, so they might not be able to return an order within the normal return window. Also, the customer returning the product might not be the same customer who purchased it, so they might not be familiar with your website and need more time. Extending your return window to accommodate customers is a great way to get them to complete their purchases, and it shows your business truly cares. 

Provide excellent customer service 

As we mentioned earlier, the holiday season is a wonderful time of the year, but it can also be incredibly stressful. Creating an excellent customer service experience for your customers can help alleviate some of those holiday stressors. For example, adding an FAQ section to your website prevents customers from having to wait on a response from your business. Some questions you might include in your FAQ section are: 

  • Do you ship internationally?
  • What is your return policy?
  • How do I track my package?
  • How long do orders take to arrive?
  • What are your customer support lines?
  • Can I change the shipping address after I place my order?
  • What do I do if it says my package was delivered, but I didn’t receive it?

A great customer experience also includes great customer service. Checking all of your customer service lines is a great first step, but you can go above and beyond with a few extra touches. If your business is able, we recommend having a live chat feature for customers who are unable to use phone support and need a more immediate answer to their questions. Also, confirm your phone, chat, and other live support options are turned off when support isn’t available to avoid customers trying to use them when no one is available to help. 

Another way to create a better customer experience is to check your site speed. If parts of your website are loading slowly or not at all, your customers can get frustrated and leave your site. Tools like PageSpeed Insights can help you test your site speed and provide recommendations on how to improve it. Again, visit your website from a customer perspective and improve any parts you think might need to be updated. Your customers will thank you. 

Prepaid return labels 

Prepaid return labels are another great way to improve the customer experience this holiday season. Prepaid return labels are return labels your business purchases and then sends to customers. This way, your customers don’t have to pay for return postage. And, the good news is, you can create prepaid return labels straight from your account! We’ve included detailed directions below on how to create prepaid return labels with Online. 

  1. Click Search in the History drop down menu.

2. Select the order you want to prepare a Return Shipping Label for.


3. Click Return Label. The Return Label window will open.


4. Select Print-at-Home Label, either USPS or UPS, whichever works best for you and your customer. 


5. Then select Continue.


6. Choose who will email the label. We suggest having send the Return Shipping Label.


7. Add a note to your customer.


8. We suggest checking the Send me a copy of this email box for your records.


9. Select Send.


That’s all there is to it. Your recipient will receive an email with an easily downloadable prepaid shipping label complete with detailed instructions to ensure an easy return shipment experience.


Note: Your emailed Return Shipping Label is active for 24 hours from the time it is created. If the label is not used, please request a refund within 28 days.


Setting aside the time to create an effective holiday return policy can help increase your sales and set the foundation for a good, year-round return policy. Trying out a new return policy during the holiday shipping season is the true test, so don’t be afraid to ask your customers for feedback. When you sit down to create your holiday return policy, think about what you would look for as a customer. Create a holiday return policy that’s informative and easy to follow. Consider extending your return window into late January for your customers who need extra time to return their orders. Provide your customers with an excellent experience with several options for customer service and an FAQ section, so your customers can look for answers on their own but have the opportunity to reach out if they have additional questions. Most importantly, don’t underestimate the power of a good holiday return policy. 

For more insights on this holiday shopping season, download our ebook below. 

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Holiday Support and USPS Hours 2022

November 28th, 2022 Comments off

Everyone at wishes you a happy holiday season! As you’re preparing for the holiday shipping season, we want to share our holiday support hours as well as information about USPS holiday closures and changes in services. 

Thursday, November 24, 2022 (Thanksgiving Day) Support: Closed 

USPS: Closed 

Friday, November 25, 2022 Support: Normal business hours (6 AM – 6 PM PST) 

USPS: Regular hours and operations 

Saturday, December 24, 2022 (Christmas Eve) Support: Closed


  • Local Post Offices will be open. They may have extended, normal, or limited hours: Check your local Post Office location for specific hours.
  • Blue Collection Boxes: Mail may be picked up earlier than usual. Drop off your mail before noon (even if the final collection time posted on the box is later). If you need a later mail pickup, go to your local Post Office.
  • Regular mail will be delivered.

Sunday, December 25, 2022 (Christmas Day) and Monday, December 26, 2022 Support: Closed 


  • Local Post Office locations will be closed.
  • Blue Collection Boxes: Mail will not be picked up.
  • Regular mail will not be delivered.
  • Priority Mail Express® mail will be delivered.* 

*Note: This applies to limited locations. For more information, visit USPS’s website. 

Saturday, December 31, 2022 (New Year’s Eve) Support: Closed


  • Local Post Offices will be open. They may have extended, normal, or limited hours: Check your local Post Office location for specific hours.
  • Blue Collection Boxes: Mail may be picked up earlier than usual. Drop off your mail before noon (even if the final collection time posted on the box is later). If you need a later mail pickup, go to your local Post Office.
  • Regular mail will be delivered.

Sunday, January 1, 2023 (New Year’s Day) and Monday, January 2, 2023 Support: Closed


  • Local Post Office locations will be closed.
  • Blue Collection Boxes: Mail will not be picked up.
  • Regular mail will not be delivered.
  • Priority Mail Express® mail will be delivered.
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4 Tips to Soften Holiday Shipping Carrier Surcharges

November 14th, 2022 Comments off

With ongoing inflation and supply chain issues, keeping your shipping budget on track will be challenging this holiday season; this includes budgeting for peak holiday surcharges from carriers. How can you offset higher shipping costs during the busiest shipping season of the entire year? Also, our study with Retail Economics found that 30.3% of customers think the delivery cost is the most important factor when trying to decide whether or not to purchase from a business. So, raising your shipping costs needs to be a last resort to better align with your customers’ expectations. We’re going to summarize some of these surcharges for you as well as give you the gift of four tips to help keep your holiday shipping budget intact. 

Summary of 2022 carrier holiday surcharges

Holiday surcharges are additional and/or increased fees that are applied to certain carrier services throughout the holiday shipping season. These surcharges typically include increases in the amount you pay for a service when using it to ship or increases in adjustments you can receive year-round for things like incorrect shipment measurements or using incorrect packaging. Holiday surcharges usually begin in early to mid-fall and stay in effect through the holiday season and into the new year. We’ve highlighted some of the biggest holiday surcharges for each carrier below. 

USPS*: Midnight (12:00 AM) on October 22, 2022 – Midnight (12:00 AM) on January 22, 2023 

  • $.25 – $6.50 increase for Priority Mail®  and Priority Mail Express® services with USPS Commercial Rates 
  • $.25 – $5.50 increase for First-Class Package Service, Parcel Select® Ground, and USPS Retail Ground®  services with USPS Commercial Rates 

*All USPS Holiday surcharges can be found on our blog

FedEx: September 5, 2022 – January 15, 2023

FedEx is basing holiday surcharges on shippers’ specific parcel volume. These charges will vary from $1.25 – $7, depending on the volume. We recommend visiting FedEx’s website directly for more information. 

4 tips to lower the impact of carrier holiday surcharges

Order free packaging

Carriers like USPS offer free packaging for services like Priority Mail, so you don’t have to worry about finding boxes on your own. You can even order some of these supplies directly from your account. Free USPS supplies usually arrive in 5-7 business days, so you can plan your supply orders accordingly throughout the holiday season. Also, when you order free USPS supplies through, some of these supplies can be automatically shipped after a specific timeframe, so you can just sit back and sip your hot chocolate. 

Carefully measure and weigh your shipments 

With peak holiday surcharges increasing costs, measuring your boxes correctly is more important than ever. Don’t be afraid to measure and weigh your boxes multiple times so your calculations are as accurate as possible. This way, you’ll cut down on the likelihood of receiving adjustment fees and charges, some of which increase during the holiday season.  

It’s also the perfect time to familiarize yourself with Dimensional, or DIM, weight. DIM weight is based on the measurements of your package as opposed to the number you see when you place your package on the scale. For USPS and UPS Shipping, you’ll start by finding your shipment’s volume (length x width x height). If this number is smaller than 1728, your shipping cost will be calculated based on your shipment’s actual weight. If this number is larger than 1728, you’ll divide this number by 166 to find your shipment’s DIM weight.*

*Note: If you’re shipping to Canada, you’ll divide this number by 139. 

Introduce product bundles to increase AOV

The holiday season is a great time to create product bundles because it can help increase your average order value or AOV. For example, if your store sells electronics, you could offer customers a new phone case and charging cable whenever they buy a new iPhone. These product bundles can even be promoted on your store’s website or in your customer communications to highlight deals and increase your AOV. A higher AOV means more money back to your store, so you can help offset the cost of holiday surcharges. 

Offer promotions to increase sales 

Offering free shipping or free shipping over a certain threshold are two of the best ways to earn more sales during the holidays. If a customer is close to the free shipping threshold, they’re more likely to grab an additional item or two. You can even showcase smaller items as recommended products to help your customers remember things they might have forgotten while shopping. Sending your repeat customers exclusive holiday discounts will also help to not only boost your sales but show your customers you care. 


Ongoing financial and availability strains are going to be prominent throughout this holiday season, so peak holiday surcharges are significant to budget for. The increases for these services are unavoidable, so finding ways to save on your shipping costs is key. Utilizing free USPS supplies, offering your customers promotions, creating product bundles, and measuring/weighing your shipments before buying postage are all easy ways to offset those surcharge costs. Taking the time to incorporate these tips into your holiday shipping routine will help you increase your sales and cut back on your shipping costs while setting you up for year-round success. 

Keep your holiday shipping merry and bright by signing up for a free trial with

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