Curio City Online's Shipping & Returns Policy

Shipping & Returns


Our Same-Day Shipping Promise 

Most of the year, we ship all orders within two business days of receipt (not counting Sundays and holidays). During the weeks leading up to Christmas (and sometimes other gift-oriented holidays), we promise Same-Day shipping. It works like this: 

  • Orders received (and paid for) before 1 pm Eastern Time Monday through Thursday will go out that afternoon.
  • Orders received after 1 pm ET go out the next afternoon.
  • Orders received after 1 pm Friday go out on the following Monday, unless it is a holiday.
  • Please allow one extra day to process sales outside of the US, and for large packages (like bird kites).

You'll always find up-to-date details on our News page when Same-Day Shipping is in effect. An order is considered filled as soon as it's been shipped. Filled orders cannot be canceled. See our Returns policy for more information about fulfilled orders.

The same-day shipping promise is not a guarantee, but a goal that we strive hard to meet. Circumstances like severe weather sometimes cause unforeseen delays. When we expect delays, we'll let you know about it on our News page. Always check the News page if you're in a particular hurry to receive your order.   

Holiday Shipping and Other Delays

Check our News page for special shipping instructions when a major gift-giving holiday -- Valentine's Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, or Christmas -- is approaching. We will list, day by day, the best options to ensure that your order arrives in time for the holiday.

Our normal 48-hour turnaround time is delayed by one day on these postal holidays:

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luthur King Day
  • Presidents Day
  • Patriots Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Severe weather and other states of emergency also cause occasional shipping delays. Always check our News page if you are in a hurry to receive your order.

Shipping Charges

We ordinarily calculate delivery charges from real-time lookup tables provided by UPS and the United States Postal Service (USPS). We endeavor to charge you our actual shipping cost, based upon the expected parcel weight and size. We add a very small handling fee (currently 50 cents) to cover our packaging costs. We do not profit from shipping fees.

When rate lookup routine fails for one reason or another, we use a locally stored rate table that's based upon your package weight and destination. If the only shipping choice displayed is "Standard shipping", we are using the rate table. At such times you can't choose between UPS and USPS; we will ship your order via the quickest option covered by your shipping fee.

Why doesn't Curio City offer free shipping? Well, we do have free shipping on some high-value, lightweight products. Subscribers to our newsletter occasionally get special free shipping offers. Generally speaking, though, shipping is our biggest cost of doing business. Very large shippers can negotiate special bulk rates with preferred carriers -- that's why they only offer you one carrier. Mom-and-pop shops like us pay the same retail price that you pay to mail something. Many companies inflate their regular prices by 15-20% to offer "free" shipping. We prefer to keep our prices honest, let you pick your preferred carrier, and show you the real price of shipping. 

Expected Transit Times

According to UPS and the USPS, you can plan on the following transit times. Remember to add one business day for us to process and ship your order! A Next-Day Air order received after 2 pm EST on Thursday will not reach you until the following Monday (because we can't ship it until Friday and UPS doesn't deliver on Saturdays).

In July 2013 the USPS started displaying shipping estimates along with the rates for various service. Those estimates are based on the distance between your zip code and ours plus their usual time in transit. They don't include any time for us to pack your order, nor are they guaranteed. We can't control the estimates that they display, and they are frequently wrong during holiday weeks.

Express Mail: 1 - 2 days, guaranteed.*
Priority Mail: 2 - 3 days. Usually your best option
First Class Mail: 2 - 4 days, restricted to parcels under 13 ounces (370 grams)
UPS Ground: 1 - 5 business days (the farther you get from the New England, the longer it takes). Includes package tracking. Weekdays only.
UPS 2nd Day Air: 2 weekdays, guaranteed**
UPS Next Day Air: Next weekday, guaranteed**

*To discover the guaranteed transit time for Express Mail, go here. Select "package". Enter 02184 for the sender's zip code. The "shipping time" will be 5 PM EST tomorrow (weekdays only). If our same-day shipping policy is in effect (see the top of this page), your package might ship on the same day that you place your order. Generally speaking, Express Mail takes one weekday for destinations east of the Mississippi and two weekdays for points west.

**See the next section for conditions of the carrier's delivery guarantees.

"Days" means Monday through Friday. Although we're really fast, we do need a little time to  process your order -- start counting from tomorrow when you are estimating delivery times. UPS doesn't deliver on weekends or to post office boxes. The farther you are from the East Coast of the US, the more likely it is for your package to take a little longer to get there. Severe weather and natural disasters often impose shipping delays. Monday postal holidays routinely delay shipping for one day.

The times listed above are guidelines, not guarantees. Only Express Mail and UPS air services are guaranteed, and even those guarantees are suspended during the week of Christmas (see next section) and in case of severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest, zombie invasions, etc.

Remember that UPS doesn't deliver on Saturdays. Sometimes an order placed near the end of the week will take longer than you'd think to get there. A 2nd-Day Air order received on Thursday afternoon, for example, won't reach you until the next Tuesday. Priority Mail would be just as quick and much cheaper. 

Some things that we sell might have special shipping restrictions. If we need to ship by some method other than the one you choose, we will e-mail you.


About Premium Shipping Guarantees

UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS Next Day Air, and Express Mail all guarantee delivery within a particular amount of time. Remember that we need a day to process and pack your order before you start counting the days in transit. Remember, too, that neither carrier counts Sundays or holidays, and UPS does not count Saturdays. Sometimes premium shipping takes longer than you would expect. For example: If you order 2nd Day Air on a Thursday, we ship your order on Friday, and UPS won't deliver it until Tuesday. In this example, Priority Mail would arrive at the same time because the USPS works on Saturdays.

(To discover when an Express Mail package will arrive, go to this USPS page. Enter a weight of 5 pounds. Enter 02184 for the "From" zip code, and the next non-holiday weekday for the shipping date. Enter 5 PM for the shipping time. The next page will display the guaranteed arrival time for Express Mail.)

These guarantees are not ironclad. They contain numerous exclusions, such as:

  • Disruptions in the air or ground transportation networks, such as weather phenomena and natural disasters
  • The unavailability or refusal of a person to accept delivery
  • Delays caused by the consignee
  • Acts of God
  • Public authorities acting with actual or apparent authority on the premises
  • Riots, strikes, and other labor disputes
  • Civil commotion
  • And all other circumstances beyond their control.

Additionally, UPS withdraws all delivery guarantees during the week of Christmas. As you can see, it's very difficult to collect a refund for a package delivered late. 

The carriers are the ones who extend the guarantees and who decide when to honor them. Therefore, Curio City cannot be liable if they fail to deliver on time. If your package arrives late, Curio City will file a claim with the carrier. If the carrier pays our claim, we will cheerfully refund your shipping charge. However, Curio City will not refund your shipping fee if the carrier denies our claim. In our experience, the USPS is more likely to deliver the service that they promise and to pay a refund if they fail to do so. UPS almost always finds a way to weasel out of their guarantees. If you absolutely need your package right away, we recommend that you choose Express Mail over a UPS air service.

Of course, Curio City will refund your shipping charge if the package is delivered late through some fault of ours.

Neither Curio City nor the carrier is liable for errors on your part, such as an incorrect or incomplete street address.

Premium shipping options are not available on those rare occasions when the real-time rate lookup routine fails. If the only shipping choice offered is "Standard shipping", we are using a locally stored rate table based upon your package's weight and destination. At such times you can't choose your carrier or method; we will ship your order via the quickest option covered by your shipping fee.   

When Packages Go Missing

It's very rare, but sometimes a box just vanishes. So we add delivery confirmation to all domestic USPS shipments. We give you that number at the time of shipment, either in your shipping notification email or in an email from, so that you will know when to expect delivery and can watch for your package. (UPS shipments include package tracking via

After a package is confirmed delivered, or when you are notified of a delivery attempt, that package is no longer the responsibility of Curio City. We aren't responsible for packages that are lost or stolen after they're confirmed delivered. Our ownership of that package ends when your carrier scans the label to prove that the package was left.

What can you do if your shipment is lost despite being confirmed delivered? The sooner you start to search, the more likely you are to find the package. First, ask anyone else in your household if they might have brought it in (you would be surprised how often this turns out to be true). If you live in a multifamily unit, it was probably stolen; ask your neighbors (even if you think one of them took it, they might return it out of guilt!). Second, check the area surrounding your mailbox or front door to see if the box or envelope might be in a concealed spot, like behind a bush or under a mat. Third, ask your carrier if s/he remembers where he or she left the box.

If none of those steps pan out, take your delivery confirmation number to your local post office and ask them to search for the box. Scanning errors are rare, but they do happen, especially during the Christmas season when volume is extremely high. Sometimes a postal carrier scans the label while the box is still on the truck, but neglects to take it to your door. In such cases the box will turn up either on the truck or in the loading area. To prevent future losses, make sure that your carrier knows where to leave packages securely (especially if you live in an apartment building). If you don't have a secure place to get packages, have your order sent to work, or to a neighbor. If you are shipping your order to somebody else, be sure to tell them that it's coming. As much as we hate to hear about packages that are stolen or lost after delivery, we can't do anything about them. Insurance does not protect you against theft after delivery.If you want to add an optional service, like signature confirmation, just e-mail us after you place your order, or put a note in the Comments box when you check out. We'll make arrangements before we send out your package. Special shipping arrangements might cost a dollar or two extra.

We insure all shipments valued at over $100 at our own expense, but insurance doesn't cover a package that's stolen after delivery. To cut down on those, we also add a signature requirement (again at our expense) on packages over $100 during November and December, when the thieves are working overtime to snatch unattended boxes. Shipments to PO boxes are exempt because that's a secure location.

If a domestic shipment is not confirmed delivered (or flagged as undeliverable) within 30 days from the ship date -- that is, if the shipment's whereabouts are unknown -- we file a claim with the carrier (see below for international shipments). They search the sending and receiving facilities. The results of this search determine what happens next. At least 95% of the time, a "lost" package turns up at the receiving post office. If it still cannot be found, Curio City will usually reship your missing order at our expense or refund your purchase (at our discretion).

UPS shipments follow a slightly different procedure. If your UPS package is confirmed delivered, but you didn't receive it, you can initiate a lost parcel claim on the UPS website. If your UPS package is not confirmed delivered, we will reship your order or refund your money and initiate the loss claim ourselves.

In any case, you need to notify us that the package is missing within 30 days of your order. All sales are final after 30 days. This requirement is relaxed to 60 days during the Christmas season. 

If an international shipment is not confirmed delivered, we will attempt to follow the same procedure outlined above. Due to wide variations in recipient nations' delivery systems, we don't have a single policy for this contingency. (So far, it has only ever happened once since 2005!)

If your package was undeliverable, we will contact you for reshipping instructions after it's returned to us. Return-to-sender service is typically very slow, so please be patient. There might be an additional charge for shipping the order again if it was undeliverable because you gave us an invalid address. Of course, we'll reship for free if we made an error on your label. 

International Shipping

We'll ship your order anyplace the USPS or UPS will take it except for the high-risk countries listed at the end of this section. We will not use private couriers or freight consolidators because they are favored by thieves. We can refuse suspicious-looking orders without explanation (there's more information about fraud detection at the end of this section). Despite all of the warnings and details that you are about to read, international packages routinely reach their destinations quickly and safely. Be sure to enter your delivery information accurately and completely, and include your telephone number. Orders paid by Paypal must be from a "Non-USA Verified Account" and must ship to the address on your Paypal account.

In November 2012, the USPS relaxed its restrictions on shipping lithium "coin cell" batteries internationally to allow shipping a limited number of batteries that are installed in products. We can't ship replacement batteries internationally because they are not installed in products. Some individual countries will not accept packages containing batteries; we currently cannot ship any products containing batteries to Germany or Italy. Customers in those countries may still order our products, but we have to remove the batteries before shipping to you. Please consult this page to see your own country's restrictions.

Your government might require you to pay import duties, fees, taxes, tariffs, or other charges at the time of delivery. Such charges can be substantial, and they are not included in your shipping fee. Most countries exempt small purchases from tariffs (this exemption is just $20 in Canada, but can be as much as $1,000 in other countries). Some Canadian customers have complained of duties approaching 100% of the value of their merchandise, as well as a $5 or $8 handling fee imposed by Canada Post. We have no control over these charges and none of these fees are paid to us -- our shipping charge only covers postage. Please check with your own country's Customs department if you are concerned about import fees.  

Our shipping software will present you with the appropriate shipping choices and costs when you check out. The most common options for worldwide shipments are:

  • Express Mail International: 3 - 5 days, not available to all countries. Expensive!
  • Priority Mail International: 6 - 10 days, usually the best option.
  • First Class International: 10 - 20 days, only packages under 4 pounds (1.8 kg), not insured. 
  • UPS Standard: Many Canadian customers complain about the brokerage fees associated with this seemingly low cost service.
  • UPS Worldwide Expedited: 2 business days to Canada; 2-3 days to Mexico; 3-4 days to Europe; 4-5 days elsewhere. Expensive, and UPS collects Customs fees.
  • UPS Worldwide Express: 1-3 business days to more than 60 countries, very expensive.

"Days" only includes business days (Monday through Friday). We ship international orders within three business days. Customs delays can add as much as four weeks. This is unpredictable and beyond our control (but it doesn't happen very often).

To discover the cost of shipping, just add the items that you want to your shopping cart and use the Shipping Estimator there. If the Shipping Estimator does not recognize your postal code, proceed to the Checkout page and enter your complete shipping information. You can abandon the transaction after clicking the "Show Shipping Rates" button if the costs are more than you are willing to pay.

First Class International is the cheapest way to ship packages weighing less than 4 pounds (1.8 kg). Size restrictions prohibit us from shipping bird kites via First Class despite their light weight. First Class packages are not insured and cannot be traced if lost.

Priority Mail International, although expensive compared to First Class, is the best tradeoff between price, speed, and reliability. Priority packages can be tracked and delivery is guaranteed, subject to the following details:

The shipping notification email that we send you will include a Customs number for USPS orders (or a tracking number for UPS). You can also see these numbers by logging in to your Curio City account if you created one when you checked out. Your local Customs office can locate the package using the Customs ID number, or you can follow the UPS shipment at We cannot trace a package after it clears Customs and enters your country's delivery system. It's up to you to contact your country's Customs department if your package is delayed. International shipments are not considered lost until 60 days from the ship date. If your package is still missing after 60 days, we will ordinarily refund your money. We will not refund your purchase if you gave us an inaccurate or incomplete delivery address, if you did not provide your telephone number at the time of sale, or if the package was undeliverable due to some other error on your part.

UPS international services are more likely to be subjected to import duties than USPS packages. Canadian customers have to pay UPS a brokerage fee that is not included in your shipping charge, and UPS will collect Customs duties on all shipments that are liable. After UPS delivers your parcel to your country's Customs office, local delivery is usually completed by your regular postal service. Our responsibility for UPS shipments ends when the package passes from UPS to your country's delivery service. UPS is sometimes the best choice for large, heavy parcels traveling great distances.

Due to the expense and labor involved in processing international shipments, all international sales are final -- no returns or exchanges except for damaged or defective merchandise, or lost packages as described in the preceding section. We will not refund your purchase if you refuse delivery for any reason, or if the package is undeliverable because you supplied an incorrect address. In these cases the package is treated as abandoned and everybody loses (except the carrier who keeps your merchandise!).

Finally, please be aware that most international sales are not fraudulent, but most fraudulent sales are international. For that reason, international orders have to pass strict automated fraud filters. You will not be able to check out if your computer's IP address, your bank's location, and your shipping address are in different countries. If your credit/debit card is rejected due to a high fraud score, you may pay with PayPal. We will cancel your sale and refund your payment if you submit multiple orders with different credit cards, or if it looks suspicious for any other reason. If you set off any warning bells we might hold your order for up to 10 days to ensure that your payment clears. See our Checkout Problems section for more information about security filtering.

Despite all of those warnings, rest assured that international shipments routinely reach their destinations in a timely manner with reasonable or no import duties assessed and we assume that you're honest unless you give us some reason to think otherwise. UPS Standard to Canada generated the most complaints, so we discontinued that option. 

We will refuse all transactions that fail our Fraud check or that look suspicious. We will not use private couriers or accept payment from non-standard processors. We might delay shipping your order for several days until your payment is verified. Sorry, but we cannot accept any orders from these high-risk countries: Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Ukraine, Venezuela, or Vietnam.

Third-Party Shippers

Unlike many online merchants, we ship almost everything from our own warehouse. We like the quality control that packing our own shipments gives us. However, sometimes "dropshipping" gets your merchandise to you more quickly and more efficiently than we could do ourselves. Third-party fulfillment is usually transparent to you, but in rare instances you might notice that your Curio City box came from somebody else, or came in two different shipments -- one from us, and one from the dropshipper. Third-party shippers are not bound by our same-day shipping promise and might use carriers other than USPS and UPS.     

Returns Policy

We want you to be happy with your purchases; if there's something wrong with your order we'll do what it takes to make it right. Even if there's nothing wrong, we'll take it back within 30 days if it's in new (resalable) condition. But as a very small company we have to lay down some reasonable rules so that we don't lose out when we did everything right and your order arrived safely. Here are the details:

  • No returns will be accepted without prior authorization. You will not receive a refund, nor will we ship the merchandise back to you, if it just shows up here unexpectedly. If you return something without authorization you will lose both the merchandise and your shipping cost.
  • You must request authorization within 30 days of your order's ship date. All sales are final after 30 days (60 days for orders received in November and December). You need to provide your order number or equivalent proof of purchase.
  • Our payment processor won't process refunds after 60 days, so we have to receive your return within 60 days of purchase (that usually means within 30 days after we give you permission). After that we can only give you store credit.
  • Notify us immediately if your item was damaged in transit. We have a limited time to recover damages from the carrier.
  • Unless your product was damaged in transit or is defective, it has to be unopened and its packaging must be intact. It must reach us in good-as-new condition. Bird kites, for example, can't be separated from their backing.
  • Shipping charges are refundable both ways if we made a mistake when we shipped your order -- we'll refund your original shipping charge and reimburse your return cost. We don't refund shipping charges for orders that were filled correctly because we had to spend that money to send it to you. You will have to absorb the cost of return postage if you just changed your mind about your purchase.
  • Our bank won't let us issue refunds that exceed the original transaction amount. To reimburse return postage, we can credit your PayPal account, credit your Curio City Online account (if you created one), or mail you a paper check.
  • Authorization expires 30 days after it is granted, so please return your item promptly.
  • If your product is covered under a manufacturer's warranty, you should file a claim with them. We'll give you the contact information.
  • Giftwrapping and other service charges are never refundable.
  • We can only refund the same account that you originally charged.

Now for some details:

If you're disappointed with your order, contact us within 30 days of your order's shipping date and explain the problem. All sales are final after 30 days. (The return period extends to 60 days for purchases made during November and December, but our bank imposes a hard limit of 60 days -- we simply can't generate a refund after that.) Every return starts with communication -- no credit will be given for items returned without permission, and anything that shows up here unexpectedly will not be returned to you.

If your merchandise is defective, or if we sent the wrong thing, we'll either refund your money (including postage both ways) or reship your order if we have more available -- whichever you prefer. If the defective product is covered by a manufacturer's warranty, we'll give you the necessary contact information to get an exchange from them. We will reimburse your postage if we made an error, but not if you just changed your mind about your order or decided that you don't like what you bought. You have to return it, unopened, in the same condition in which we sent it out. Packages that were opened, or merchandise that has been used, are never returnable. You will not receive credit for used items or torn packaging, so please don't waste your time and money sending them to us.

Upon receipt of your merchandise in salable condition, we will credit the same account that you originally used to pay. Credits can never exceed the original charge. No credit will be issued for merchandise that arrives damaged, worn, incomplete, or otherwise in unsalable condition.

Damage that happens in transit is the carrier's responsibility if the package is insured. UPS shipping charges include package insurance up to the declared value. We only insure USPS parcels valued over $100. Be sure that you keep your shipping materials if you initiate a claim with your local post office or UPS outlet. We will handle the damage claims for premium shipping services.

That's a lot of rules. If you're unhappy for some reason we didn't cover, we will try to find a solution that's both satisfactory to you and reasonable for us. We promise to consider all complaints honestly and fairly, but we do have the final word on how they're handled.



Did you receive a gift that's not right for you? We can only issue refunds to our original customers, but you can exchange it for something you'd like better subject to the conditions at the end of this section.

Here's how:

  • Use our Contact form to tell us who bought it so that we can verify it came from our store. The order number is helpful, if you have it.
  • Create a (free) Curio City account if you don't already have one.
  • After we verify that your unwanted item came from us, we'll send return instructions to the email address in your account.
  • When we receive your authorized return, we'll credit the purchase price to your account in the form of Reward Points (RP).
  • You can then shop normally and redeem your RP when you check out.

Here's the fine print: We will credit you with the retail price of the item minus any discounts or rebates that were in effect when it was purchased. (That is, if the buyer used a discount coupon, you'll get the discounted amount.) Shipping charges, giftwrapping fees, sales tax and similar extra charges are never refundable. The exchange period on all items ends 60 days after the original purchase or 30 days after Christmas, whichever is later. Your item has to reach us in new condition and sealed in its original packaging -- you will not get credit for used, opened, or damaged merchandise. RP have no cash value and are not refundable. RP never expire; however, we do periodically delete accounts that have been inactive for at least three years. Any RP associated with closed accounts are lost. Curio City has the right to change or end the Reward Points program at any time, so don't let your points languish for too long.

Our Packaging

Curio City practices the "reduce - reuse - recycle" philosophy. We use as little packaging as we can to ensure that your order has a safe trip. We reuse shipping cartons and packing material whenever possible. Your carton might look like it's made a few trips before. It might even have somebody else's name on it. We hope that you'll save the box and send it off on another trip someday, or recycle it properly if it's not suitable for further use. If we run out of packing peanuts, your excelsior might consist of wadded up newspaper. It isn't elegant, but it does the job. These practices mean that we add almost no virgin materials to the waste stream.

Out of Stock Items

Our website is supposed to prevent you from putting anything that we don't have in your shopping cart. Under certain conditions, that safeguard fails (computers are only human, after all). If we do accidentally sell you something we can't supply, we'll promptly contact you for the information we need to refund the charge, including any tax or postage that we collected. If your item can be replenished, we will offer you the choice of placing it on backorder. Upon arrival, we will ship your item(s) at our expense.

Privacy Policy

It's simple and brief: Your contact information won't go beyond Curio City and its parent company, Kraken Enterprises. We only ever use it to conduct business with you. We won't sell, rent, give, loan, share, or discuss your account information with anyone unless we are compelled to do so by law.

When you create an account, you can sign up for the Curio City Chronicle. This newsletter comes out every six to eight weeks, or as news warrants. We hope you'll enjoy reading it and take advantage of its discounts and special offers. If you don't want it, of course, you can unsubscribe with a single click. The Chronicle is what they call an opt-in newsletter. You won't get it unless you sign up. 



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