Scope: Meade StarPro 70mm AZ; $129 shipped
Supplier: B&H Photo
Ord. Date: 10 Nov 2020
Arrived: 6 Mar '21
When ordered, it showed in stock. Next day, an email is received stating it was back-ordered with an expected shipping time of late Nov. No problem with that, since everyone is short of help to process orders, keep track of stock and answer phones & email.
This was ordered as a birthday gift for friends and time mattered. So, after a long search, another StarPro 70 was found at Mile High Astronomy in Denver for $149 shipped (what the scope is now selling for at B&H). Four days later it arrived, intact at its destination outside of Atlanta.
They were quite happy with it. After asking how long a time it would take for the image shake to settle and they said, "about 2 seconds, maybe less", I decided to not cancel the order at B&H and see for myself just how good a mount it is. The reviews were good for the optics & mount, which is why this one was chosen as a first scope for my friends. For some time, I have been in the market for a lightweight, stable, easy to use mount for a better "grab and go" than what I had. Was thinking there was a chance this one could work. For the price, what the heck.
Come end of November, the back-order had not changed and the shipping date was moved to end of December. By mid. Dec, the ship. date was moved further back to end of Jan. More waiting and by then, it was moved to end of February.
About this time, one early morning a story was heard on the radio (BBC World News) that there was a serious shortage of shipping containers. Container ships were backing up at anchorages around the world while waiting to come into port for off-loading. Due to the Virus, truck drivers and longshoremen were being hit and the containers were stacking up in the ports. Of course, this would include Los Angeles, where much of the container shipping from Taiwan and Hong Kong come in from. Relatively few containers going out to be unloaded, therefore few containers being returned empty for shipping back to be refilled.
End of February arrives and the shipping date is now moved out to 1 April. Then, at last, on 3 March, an email arrives saying "the StarPro is now in stock". Three days later and it arrived.
None of these delays had anything to do with B&H or Meade. Considering last year's unfortunate lawsuit settlement, I was somewhat concerned that Meade was having production problems, but now realize no more so than any other manufacturer.
And so, one big part of the answer to all this is most likely as Ulmer stated:
Interesting survey, but I don't think you can draw any conclusions from it. Things change daily, so vendors don't have typical lead times. One example: the shortage of shipping containers. An agent may find 10, one or none at all from one day to the next.