FAQ

 

Shipping Policies

When will I receive my order?

  • In response to the COVID19 pandemic, our store is operating at a limited capacity and will continue to do so until we as an organization agree it is safe to return to normal operating procedures.  
  • As of April 2020, packages will only be shipped on Friday afternoons.  This means that if you place an order Friday evening, your package will not be shipping until the following Friday.  Please account for this change when choosing a shipping option at check out.
  • Shipping carriers, rates, and timelines are determined based on user selection at checkout, and cannot be changed following order finalization. At the moment, we offer shipping through USPS for domestic orders and UPS for international orders.  
  • If you will need to track your package, please ensure that you select a shipping option that includes tracking at checkout. You will receive tracking information via email when your order ships if you have selected a shipping option that includes tracking.
  • Tracking is included for all UPS shipments, as well as USPS Priority Mail, USPS First-Class Package Service, and USPS Parcel Select Ground.  Please note that tracking is not included for USPS First-Class Envelope shipping. 
  • If your order requires additional attention, please contact us detailing your situation and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

 

I ordered a package to be delivered outside of the United States, and I have not yet received shipping confirmation / tracking information / my package. 

  • Our store is operated through Shopify.  If Shopify can not verify your shipping address,  we can’t purchase or print your shipping label through Shopify.  If we have to manually label your package, you will not receive order status updates from Shopify.  This causes delays in the shipping process, additional work for our employees, and increased shipping prices for us.
  • We at Public Lab know that addresses function differently all over the world.  If you are worried that your shipping address might be an issue, please reach out to us directly at shipping@publiclab.org before you order. 
  • If we are unable to verify your address through Shopify using the information you provide at the time of ordering, we may reach out to you directly via email for more information.  We will not move forward with shipping your order until we hear from you.  Please keep an eye out for correspondence from us in order to ensure your delivery goes out on schedule.  
  • Occasionally, packages we send are stopped at the border until the recipient of said package can be contacted by the carrier through email or telephone.  In this case, the carrier gives us (Public Lab) approximately one week to update contact information before the package is returned. If you are ordering internationally, please ensure that you list the correct contact information, and that you keep an eye on your inbox and junk folders following your order.  We do not offer shipping guarantees and we will not pay for return shipping if the package is misdelivered for any reason.

 

Why is international postage so expensive?

  • In April of 2020, we made the difficult decision to eliminate the United States Postal Service (the USPS) as an option for international shipping.  At the time, we experienced a series of undelivered packages that we believed were caused by COVID-19 complications and an influx of orders being placed through USPS due to the pandemic. Currently, we only offer UPS international shipping, which charges on average $60 per package, regardless if that package is a box or an envelope.  
  • If you are interested in placing an order to be shipped outside of the US, and you would specifically like your order shipped through USPS, please send us an email at kits@publiclab.org.  To expedite the order process, please include your name, the desired products and quantities for your order, and your shipping address in the email. 
  • Please note - If you choose to have an order shipped internationally through USPS, you are assuming the risk of your package being lost or misdelivered without the possibility of refund.

 

Returns / Exchanges / Gifts

 

What is your return policy?

  • We will offer refunds or exchanges for unsatisfactory items if requested by the customer within 60 days of shipment date.  If a return or refund request is not initiated within 60 days, we unfortunately can not return or refund your order. 
  • To be eligible for a return, your item must be unused and in the same condition that you received it.
  • We do not offer refunds on select items: 
    • Perishable goods, such as sampling materials
    • Newspapers, magazine, Community Science Forums, and print materials
    • Hazardous materials, such as flammable liquids or gases
    • Gift cards and downloadable software products
    • Sale or discounted items
  • Exchanges are only offered if an item is received defective or damaged.  Prior to replacement, we ask that you provide documentation of the defective or damaged item in the form of photos sent via email to kits@publiclab.org.  
  • Refund requests are processed in the order in which they are received.  Once your request is received and reviewed, you will be notified of Public Lab’s choice of action within 7 business days.  
  • We do not cover shipping costs for returns or exchanges.
  • We do not cover return shipping costs for packages that are misdelivered for any reason.

 

I received a Public Lab kit as a gift and I need to return it.  How does this process work?

  • Unfortunately, refunds can only be issued to the original purchaser’s account.  However, we do offer exchanges in the form of store credit and gift cards. 
  • If you are looking to return or exchange a gifted item, please send an email to kits@publiclab.org with details about your situation.  Please remember to include the name of the person who purchased the gift in your email. 
  • Unfortunately, we do not cover shipping costs for returns or exchanges.

 

Kits Issues

 

I purchased a kit and it does not work.  How do I fix it?

  • All of Public Lab’s kits are designed through community collaboration, meaning there is no one expert on how to build or how to use our kits.  
  • Since the majority of our kits are designed by members of the community who are not on Public Lab’s staff, the best resource for troubleshooting a kit is to post a question to the PublicLab.org website so that community members with direct experience in building and using your kit can provide advice.  
  • If you are still having difficulty with your kit after you have posted a question on the Public Lab website, please reach out to kits@publiclab.org.  While we may not be able to troubleshoot your issue, we can post your question to other networks and provide aid in increasing visibility and crowd-sourcing a solution to your issue. 

 

I purchased _______ kit in the past and recently broke ______ part.  Can I order a replacement?

  • Our kits are designed with a “Do It Yourself” mentality, so most of the parts that we use for our kits can be found in your local hardware store. 
  • If you are unable to find a part you need for your kit, we encourage you to write a question on the public lab site asking other community members for help in repairing your kit, or identifying substitutes for your broken part.  A tutorial on how to ask a question on PublicLab.org can be found here.
  • Please be aware that we regularly change or update the parts used for our kits in order to keep our prices low.  If the kit in question is over six months old,  it is unlikely that we have an exact match for your broken part in stock.  
  • If you are unable to find a work around for your issue, please send an email to kits@publiclab.org describing your situation, and we will do our best to help you solve your issue. 

 

I modified a kit.  Can I share the modifications or get feedback?

  • That’s great!  Our kits are designed to be modified, upgraded, and adapted to suit your research needs, and we welcome any improvements and suggestions.  Now that you’ve upgraded your kit, we’d love to publish your work!  It’s very easy to become a project contributor.  

  • We ask that anyone who uses our kits shares their feedback, suggestions, and results by posting a Research Note on PublicLab.org.
  • In your note, please describe: 
      • A detailed description of the modifications that you’ve made to the kit: List what parts were replaced, and what parts were used instead. 
      • Your motivations for the alteration:  Did you break a rubber band and have to replace it on the fly?  Did the paper spectrometer not fit snugly on your cellphone? Etc.
      • How did changing this tool alter the results?  Was the outcome of your project as expected, or were you surprised by the results? 

 

I used ______ kit to investigate ________.   What should I do now?

  • Wonderful news!  We ask that anyone who uses our kits shares their feedback, suggestions, and results by posting a Research Note on PublicLab.org.  
  • Your Research Note could be referenced by other community members who are looking to recreate your work in a different environmental setting.  Your work might start a conversation about innovative ways to use a kit for that produce a completely different, and possibly more informative, results.  Best of all, your writing and photographs could be published in our newsletters, blog posts, and social media!
  • All members of the Public Lab Community who contribute to the development of a kit through posts, comments, and questions will be included in our list of contributors found at publiclab.org/wiki/contributors in perpetuity.

 

If you have any additional questions, please contact us using this form.