Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page!
Click a link below for answers to your questions. If you still need help, Contact us!
Placing an Order
Q: How do I create an account?
A: Please go to our front page of our website, www.sparkfun.com, and click the “log in” link in the upper right-hand corner, then the “No account? Register one!” link. From there, you will be taken to a “Create a new account” page where you will enter your name and email address and choose a password. We definitely recommend receiving the newsletter - we work hard to make it neat and cool and useful for you - but won’t hold it against you if you don’t want it. Click “Register”, and you’re all set! The Welcome page will give you a brief of some tools you have access too, with a lot more available (addresses, orders, invoices, etc.) via the “Your Account” menu in the upper right.
Q: What if I don’t want to create an account?
A: We offer a Guest Checkout option for those folks who don’t want to create an account. Just add things to your cart normally and click Secure Checkout from the cart page. You’ll see a ‘Continue as a Guest’ button in the lower left.
Q: How do I place an order?
A: If you have an account, make sure you are logged in first. Then start looking for items you wish to purchase, using either the search box in the upper right or the list of categories down the left side of the site. If the product you want is in stock, click “add to cart” to add them to your online shopping cart. If the product is backordered, click the “Backorder” button to reserve one. (Not all products are allowed for backorder.) If you would like more than one unit, be sure the change the quantity before adding to your cart.
Once you have all the items you want to purchase in your cart, click the “Checkout” button. Select the address you wish to ship to, along with with the shipping method you want to use (please see our Shipping Policy page for more information). In the second column on this page, select the Payment Method you would like to use. You can enter a PO number if you have one, a Promotional Code if you have one, and can opt to use Store Credit or Gift Certificates here. Please note that the billing address you select here must match what is on file with your bank if you are using a credit card.
Once you have all the shipping and payment information entered, verify that you have read the “Terms of Service and Shipping Policy” (we know few people actually do, but there’s actually some important info there). This will bring you to the final, end-of-the-road-check page - you aren’t done yet! This page says: “Your order has not been placed yet,” so please review the information to make sure it is correct before scrolling to the bottom right of the page and clicking the Place Order button. Once you’ve hit the Place Order button, your order is locked in our system and its possible we may not be able to change it. You will receive a 7 digit order number. If you do not see the 7 digit order number, you have not placed your order! Please check to see if there was an error processing the order, and fix it.
Q: How do I modify or cancel an existing order?
A: If it hasn’t shipped yet, you can pause it!
Q: How do I change the quantities of items in my cart?
A: If you have added an item to your shopping cart, and then realize you want, say 10 of them instead of 2, enter the quantity you really wish to purchase in the little quantity box, and click “update.”
1) A button that says “Backorder” instead of “Add to Cart”, that means that we are out of stock. You may reserve some now and we’ll send it to you when we get it. Click the “Backorder” button for more info.
2) The “Add to Cart” button grayed and not working, it means the the item is not available for backorder. This is usually because our supply is limited and/or erratic. Contact Customer Service for more info on a specific item.
Q: What are my options for shipping?
A: See our Shipping Policy.
Q: How much will it cost to ship my order?
A: Shipping costs will vary greatly depending on what you’re ordering, where it is shipping to, and what shipping method you choose. We do offer free economy shipping for all domestic (shipping within the US) orders worth $75 or more. Once you have added all the items you want to your shopping cart, you can click on the Calculate Shipping button underneath all the items and select the address you’re shipping to. It will give you a pretty accurate estimate of the actual shipping charges for available shipping options. Also, when you select the shipping method you want to use while in checkout, it will show you the actual amount you’ll be charged for shipping. This is the actual amount we are charged by the USPS, FedEx, or UPS. We do get pretty good FedEx and UPS rates, but if you have an account with either of those companies that you’d like to use, we can do that too (keep reading). In addition to shipping charges, we also charge a $2.00 handling fee on all orders (except those using the free shipping option).
Q: How do I place an order with different shipping and billing addresses?
A: If you have both addresses in your account address book, it is a simple matter of choosing the correct address from the drop down menu during checkout. If you don’t have one of the addresses added, you can add it to your Address Book before placing entering checkout or click the Change Shipping Address or Change Billing Address in checkout. Please confirm that you have the right addresses selected before confirming your order.
Q: My order went through just fine, but why wasn’t I charged. Why?
A: The most likely reason you were not charged immediately for this order is because you ordered something that was out of stock. We do not charge for backorders until they are in stock and ready to ship. If this is NOT the case with your order, please check your payment method: only PayPal and credit card are immediate payment methods. All others will show a balance due. If the answer is d) none of the above, please call us with your order number to find out what happened.
Q: How do I pay with a Purchase Order?
A: See our Purchase Orders section for complete details.
Q: How do I get a quote for items and/or shipping costs?
A: All of our pricing and availability information is online, so we are not able to provide quotes for under 250 pieces of an item. If you want less than 250 of an item, just place your order through our website, and all shipping, applicable tax and costs for items will be available during checkout. You can choose “Offline Payment” if you want to place your order without paying for it, or if you need an invoice to wrestle payment from your company or school. You can print an invoice directly from your account under Order History once you have your order in the system. Please be sure to contact us to make payment and release (or cancel) your order if you choose Offline Payment.
Q: What payment methods do you accept?
A: We accept credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover), PayPal, check, money order, or wire transfer. US funds only, and we do not accept COD orders. See our Payment Policy page for more info.
Q: Why was my credit card declined?
A: The most common reason we see for credit card decline is a mismatch with the billing address you gave us and the one on file with your bank. Please be sure that you have entered the address you receive statements in the billing address field. If this address is wrong, our system will decline the transaction and your order won’t go through, however, your bank may hold the funds for up to several days while they confirm that our system did indeed decline this transaction. Avoid this hassle altogether by checking your billing address before completing your order!
Credit cards are also declined because of incorrectly entered CVV codes (that’s the 3 digits on the back of the card, or the 4 small ones on the front in the case of American Express), or because of a problem your bank may have with the transaction. This can include lack of funds, or just plain old lack of trust - sometimes your bank may decline the transaction because they don’t know who we are.
If your card is declined, please check all the information first before giving us a call. If the error is on your bank’s side, you will need to contact them to get it straightened out because your bank is not going to share any information about your account with us, no sir! That would be silly.
Q: Why is my order in “Exception” status?
A: This indicates your order needs human interaction before it can be released for shipment. Orders in this status usually get cleared quickly. We will contact you if we need additional information.
Q. How can I get my order shipped out today?
A: Our same-day shipping guarantee states than orders meeting certain requirements will be shipped out that day. Please see our Same-Day Shipping page for specifics on what qualifies (or disqualifies!) your order.
If your order does not meet the requirements, we can not guarantee that your order will ship that same day. However, all hope is not lost! Please call us as soon as you can with your order number to request your order be expedited, and we will do all we can to make sure it gets processed quickly.
Q. How can I get an invoice for my order?
A: You can find a standard invoice, showing the value of your order, shipping charges, and what you paid, under Order History in you SparkFun account. Once in Order History, click on the order number you need an invoice for, and then on the “View printable invoice” link underneath the order status.
If you need a commercial invoice or a pro-forma invoice, please give us a call and we are more than happy to email one to you.
Q: CUSTOMS FEES: How much/can I avoid/do I have to pay/why did I have to pay?
A: Shipping orders to addresses outside of the United States will most likely incur customs fees, duties, and/or taxes on the way. We have no control over these fees, and can’t predict or pay them for you. Actual amounts will vary, but here’s a duty calculator to help you with estimation.
Please make sure you are up to date on any customs and import rules and regulations for your country, as they vary greatly from country to country, item to item, and even by shipping company. We do expect you, the customer, to be aware of anything that might affect your order on its way in to your country, and you likely speak the language better than we do!
If you refuse to pay the duties and taxes and opt to have the package returned to us, we will still be charged those fees on the way out of your country and on the way in to ours. Those charges will be subtracted from any refund you may be eligible for.
Q: Can I take a tour of your facility?
A: We give tours most Friday afternoons at at 3pm at our offices in Niwot, Colorado. Please see our tours page for the details.
Q: When and where do you teach classes?
A: All of our classes are taught at our facility in Niwot, Colorado. You do have to be here for the class. Pricing for classes does not include any kind of travel costs, such as transportation to and from Niwot, lodging, or anything else - just the class and, in most cases, the hardware. That being said, we do have recommendations for you if you decide to come in from out of town! Give us a call and we can direct you to our favorite hotels and restaurants in our area!
Q: Can I talk to Nate?
A: Nate is out of town a lot spreading the Good News of SparkFun to the masses! We are more than happy to help you with anything you need, just ask! We can also patch you through to his administrative assistant who has a better idea of his schedule.
Q: I made a neat thing. How do I sell it on your website?
A: Check out our How to Sell Your Widget on SparkFun tutorial.
Q: How do I purchase/redeem a SparkFun Gift Certificate?
A: Go to the Gift Certificates page!