Should FIRST take responsibility for shipping mistakes?

My team went to the kickoff in San Jose yesterday, and because we are full of questions about the game, we stayed for a few minutes after the Q&A portion of the kickoff to ask some extra questions. When we got to the kit pick-up area, we were told that we were the last team to get their kit. And, lucky us, FIRST messed up and didn’t ship the black box with the rest of our kit. At the earliest, we will get the box on Thursday, because they don’t even go back to work until Monday.

Does it seem fair that we are missing a large part of our kit, when we traveled 3 1/2 hours to San Jose to get it, and while we won’t get it until late next week, FIRST will not extend the ship date? I know there are other teams that won’t even get their kits until next week because they didn’t go to a kickoff, but it’s their choice to wait. We were there to get ours; it’s a mess-up on FIRST’s part that we are missing half of our kit.

Thanks if you choose to voice your opinion on this.

I know that more than a few teams did not “choose” to not go to a kickoff; rather, they weren’t able to make it because of weather. It was snowing here to the point where we couldn’t see the lane lines on the streets or the freeway; that was a relatively minor storm and other parts of the country received much worse weather.

We can’t blame FIRST for the weather, though. Those teams still have to contend with the same ship date as the rest of us.

FIRST made a mistake in your case, and they’ve made mistakes for other teams as well. I can also understand the anger that you seem to be feeling, as would most of us here.


Isn’t FIRST meant to represent a microcosm of the real engineering world? Things go wrong in real life all the time. Part orders are botched or misdirected. Projects that people have spent months or years of their lives on are cancelled. It seems appropriate that FIRST includes some of that, even if it’s not intentional.

A few days is a relatively minor inconvenience. You’ll get the bin soon enough, and it’s going to make your team look even better if you can still perform well in competition. Isn’t there anything else you can do for those few days, like planning or working on other parts of the robot?

No, it’s not fair. But neither is life.

The “black box” she’s refering to is one of the kit bins that they gave us. One is black and one is grey. Last year they were blue and red. You know what I’m talking about?

I do now…I haven’t seen our kit of parts yet. Sorry about that…

That makes the “inconvenience” more than a minor one, I guess. The point that I was trying to make still stands - there’s got to be something else that the team could work on, and the few days that it will take to receive it may not matter in the end.

It’s entirely possible to succeed without the right parts at the start of the season. Heck, you can even do well at Nationals if your robot doesn’t make it to the competition and you build a new one in a day… :wink:

Tough luck, but that’s how FIRST works.

I havent seen any Hawaiian, Alaskan, Brazillian, English, German, or Israeli teams in here complaining, and Im willing to bet they’ll all receive their kit after you do. And none of them could realistically go to remote kickoffs… Even for teams from Alaska and Hawaii it costs a whole hell of a lot to fly to the closest remote site, and it’s gotta cost a small fortune for the international teams.

Do your design without the kit stuff. When it’s done, you’ll have the parts and be ready to start making things.

I’ve heard horror stories of part kits being split up and then teams going into the build season without parts. But you’ve got to admit, with the hundreds of thousands of parts to ship, pack, and get to the right teams, and the fact that FIRST is a mainly volunteer organization, it’s amazing that they have as few logistical mistakes as they do. (Wow, that was a long run-on) With an organization as big as FIRST there’s bound to be a few orders which fall through the cracks. But that’s something to be expected.

Simple and sweet they should, it’s what you want to hear… but it’s also true. You went to the remote kickoff… you should have the box… plain and simple-- they won’t grant you an extention… but I would =)

I would say that you should be able to make up for the lost time through careful time management. Lets fast forward 6 weeks and there is a blizzard a day or two before ship date I can see FIRST granting an extension because its a lot harder (logistically) to replace a day or two’s work in day than it is to replace 2 days of work in 6 weeks.

my 2cents

Ya well last year we didnt go to a kickoff so we waited three weeks for our boxes and on top of that we were missing a whole pneumatics, sensor bags. We contacted them on several occasions and those bags never showed up just be happy that the box is coming and hope everything is in there

Realistically, you don’t really need the kit until a few days, or even a week after kickoff. I know many teams want to break out the parts and start prototyping and building right away, but until you have a clear direction of where you want to take your robot, the parts would be useless. For the first 5 days of the build season, our parts stay packed up except for kit inventory and making sure we’re not missing anything. Once we have a clear idea of the types of mechanisms to build, and a specific level of desired functionality, we’ll break out some motors and pieces and start testing. You don’t need all the parts to discuss what to build, and extending the ship date for a few teams would be unfair to the rest of the teams. As of Saturday, everyone around the world knows what the game for this year is, and has equal temporal opportunity to discuss the possibilities of mechanisms and strategy, and even one extra day for a few teams would completely offset the constraints set by the organization.

FIRST does the best they can to distribute kits to over a thousand teams all over the world. Out of that thousand, mistakes will, and do happen. If FIRST were to grant an extension to one team, other teams would complain and demand the same thing. It’s a mighty difficult task to keep the competition level between all 1,000 teams. At times, it will seem unfair to some, but perfectly fine for others. FIRST does it’s best to keep a balance, not just in shipping kits, but for everything it does, and I think they deserve a boatload of credit for doing as well as they are.

Thanks for the support and advice. I know we won’t even really use the parts from the bin until next week, and we’ve figured the only part that would be useful that we’re missing would be the tetra clovers. That doesn’t matter much anymore since we just made the tetras with PVC pipe and zip ties. Oh, the wonders of zip ties.

I know we’ll be ok without the bin for a while. Anyway, good luck to all of you in competition! We’re going to the Sacramento/U.C. Davis competition, so we look forward to competing against some of you there. And if we accomplish our goal of winning the regional, we’ll see you at Nationals!

According to FRC event listing, there are tree spots open at the Championships right now. So, you don’t even have to win a regional… just sign up.

Unless, of course, your cost issues are dependant on winning a regional.

Either way, good luck.

Andy B.

My team, 833, is in Hawaii. This is my team’s 4th year (and mine as well) and every year we receive our kit about 9 days after the kickoff, if we’re lucky. Last year it took 11 days. So we don’t expect to see any black boxes until next monday. I have seen through CD that somes teams already have built tetras to play with, we won’t have that for a while. Yet, we certainly manage to build a robot and do well at our regionals, year after year.

There are many teams, like my own, that have a very very hard time as far as shipping, ordering, and time constraints go. Don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine.

We got our kit send out early and it arrived yesterday i believe…
We are going to check with the porters etc at college but we seem to be missing the grey box… the shipping documents only said 1 of 1 thoguh, which is worrying …

We can’t go to Nationals unless we win the regional (or win one of the few other awards there that would qualify us for Nationals). Technically we’re already qualified to go, but since we took FIRST’s $1000 scholarship for the team this year, we forfeited our qualification. Therefore, I hope we win regionals!

The other thing I have to say is: Thank You, FIRST. They told us the black box would get here on Thursday at the earliest, and it arrived yesterday evening (Tuesday) around 5 PM. So we thank them for being prompt and getting us our equipment. Thanks, FIRST!