Overnight Shipping Battle! FedEx Vs. USPS Vs. UPS

In the battle of the overnight shipping, which service reigns supreme? Is it FedEx? Or UPS and its long-haired whiteboard dude? Or the folks in blue at the Postal Service?

Consumer Reports mailed 48 packages from Yonkers, N.Y., to 16 consumers in 12 states, using regular next-day delivery (Standard Overnight for FedEx, Express Mail for the Postal Service, and Next Day Air Saver for UPS.) All of the packages got there the next day — but the price was wildly different.

CR says:

The Postal Service was the least expensive by far for local and long-distance deliveries. For letter-size envelopes, such as the ones it gave us for sending the books, it charges a flat rate of $16.50. (Flat rates for slower delivery are lower.) The other shippers base prices on weight and distance traveled. UPS charged $62.87 to send our book next-day to Oregon and $29.55 to Manhattan. FedEx charged $54.57 and $27.48, respectively.

…Asked how the Postal Service, an independent part of the U.S. government’s executive branch, can deliver overnight shipping for less, a spokeswoman, Yvonne Yoerger, said: “We have an infrastructure in place and letter carriers everywhere. We’re simply adding package delivery to a network that already exists.”

Way to go, USPS.

Overnight shipping: FedEx vs. UPS vs. the Postal Service [CR]
(Photo: The Joy of the Mundane )

Comments

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  1. midwestkel says:

    Whoomp Whooomp, I love USPS!

    • hals000 says:

      @midwestkel: It should be noted that USPS also guarantees their overnight service and will refund your money if it does not arrive by the time they promise.

    • firefoxx66 says:

      @midwestkel: I’d love them more if they wouldn’t actually try and convince me my address doesn’t exist. Fed-Ex, DHL, and the normal mail seem to find it just fine, but whenever USPS has to deliver me a package, all hell breaks lose while they tell me my apartment complex doesn’t exist.

  2. laserjobs says:

    DHL overnights most of my packages I send Ground Service plus they normally are the lowest cost

    • laserjobs says:

      When sending books, you can’t beat the rates for USPS media mail across country. The Priority flat rate box is also an awesome deal at under $10.

      • Orv says:

        @laserjobs: I had thought I’d heard that they were going to eliminate media mail, but I see it’s still there on their website, so maybe I heard wrong.

        • opal says:

          @Orv: I think the Consumerist ran a story in the last few weeks about how post office workers were supposed to pitch the higher-than-media-mail-priced services?

    • phate says:

      @laserjobs: They maybe the cheapest but they could careless about your package. I used to work for Dell and I can’t count high enough to even guess how many packages (parts, computers, etc) that when shipped through DHL, either disappeared or more often then not, showed up completely trashed. Dell could save BILLIONS if they just nuked the contract with DHL and signed a new one elsewhere. I swear the money they would save they start their own shipping company.

      • ohenry says:

        @phate: Gotta agree with you there. I used to work for an athletic goods company, and our two-day option was with DHL. I had SOOOOO many calls about the package not being there, or it being damaged, it was unreal.

        I’ll give them one piece of credit, though — their customer service folks (at least 3 years ago) were/are very helpful and easy to reach.

        • Anonymous says:

          We used to use DHL for overnight because of their rates; anything going to the other coast, though, would typically take 2 days (and lots of angry customer calls). Their failure rate for overnight was huge…almost 30%, from what I recall. UPS was worse…they would deliver the packages, but their rate for damaged packages was super high. Sounds like DHL is going out of business now anyway, though, so they won’t be an option for overnight delivery much longer. We have far less problems with FedEx, so we’ve stuck with them and rarely have delivery issues. USPS works great for slower-delivery packages, though…and you can’t beat the price!!!

    • Triborough says:

      @laserjobs: I knew someone who had trouble with DHL and they were shipping perishable food items overnight. Let’s just say overnight would up being several days.

    • gqcarrick says:

      @laserjobs: DHL is cheapest because they piggyback off of USPS. I am waiting for several packages from DHL, and I checked today and it says “turned over to USPS”.

      • penuspenuspenus says:

        @gqcarrick: All of the carriers have a version of “Smart Post” where the initial carrier does the intial mailing, and turns over to the local (or closest USPS main hub) post office. DHL, FedEx, UPS all do it.

      • ecwis says:

        @gqcarrick: UPS does the same thing but they only do it if the shipper selects that service type.

    • seandavid010 says:

      I dunno, when I have to ship anything really valuable, I go with USPS Registered mail. It stays under lock and key, and every time it changes hands it needs to be signed for. Besides, it’s automatically insured for 25k, and if someone messes with it, it’s a federal offense. I personally have used the service to send small items through the mail worth about $6k. It might take up to a couple of weeks to get there, but it’s the most secure service available.@laserjobs:

  3. blackmage439 says:

    Crap in, crap out.

    How reliable is the service, though? I get the feeling lately that no one at the USPS actually cares anymore. They are government employees, so it would take a mountain of complaints to see a mailperson lose their job. Not to mention that their revenue is limited by the rate of inflation, and I seriously doubt the government is bailing out the USPS as much as Fannie/Freddy.

    Sure, the couple of test packages the C.R. guys sent out arrived on time, but what about the millions of other packages being over-nighted? How many of those actually arrive the next day?

    • tmed says:

      @blackmage439:

      I get the feeling everywhere that people don’t care anymore. No one is making decent money, the cost of living has crept up and the wages haven’t matched.

      Don’t buy the hype, postal workers lose their jobs more easily than you’d think, but I think that threat of firing is not a path to happiness.

      You are right however, the failure rate on USPS is higher, so if it HAS to be overnight, I use another carrier, but for anything short of ABOSOLUTELY CRITICAL I send USPS and I have had a very, very high rate of success.

    • unpolloloco says:

      @blackmage439: did they ever care?

    • HFC says:

      @blackmage439: “Sure, the couple of test packages the C.R. guys sent out arrived on time” They mailed 48 packages between the three services. That’s 16 with each service. That isn’t a couple. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a small sample, but it’s not a couple of mailings.

    • nataku8_e30 says:

      @blackmage439: I’ve never had worse reliability than with UPS. The most noteworthy (although no the only) instance of their incompetence was when they delivered a package that was correctly addressed to my apartment to a local business that was more than 10 miles from me. It took them several days to get the package back from the business and deliver it to me, and no one apologized or could explain how they made the mistake. They knew the correct address and it was entered into their system – they knew the address where it had been delivered, and that too was entered into the system, yet no alarms went off at any point to suggest that maybe the driver was an incompetent moron.

      • gardenwzl says:

        @nataku83: UPS lost the Garmin navigation system my husband had purchased for me. (The irony didn’t make the situation any better.) It was on the truck and “out for delivery” for 3 days before they would look into the situation. It took forever for them to “research” the lost package and reimburse the company we purchased it from — only then did the company re-ship my navigation unit.

        I haven’t used UPS since.

      • Triborough says:

        @nataku83:
        In part of a hellish series of problems with Amazon (which led me to never buy anything from them ever again) UPS left stuff on the stoop (according to tracking) but there was nothing on the stoop and the time of delivery was when I was home and no doorbell was rung.

        • kathyl says:

          @Triborough: I think it’s almost UPS company policy not to ring the doorbell if there’s no signature required, and just to lob the package near the door and leave. I’ve been home for the last dozen or so packages I’ve had delivered (with multiple carriers) and the UPS delivery people have NEVER touched my doorbell.

    • BullLifter says:

      @blackmage439: My local office in Los Angeles area (San Fernando Valley) seems to care. I received a Smithsonian magazine with a torn up cover in a plastic bag with an apology letter inside. No big deal, but I was really surprised the post office would do that. I’ve also never had a problem at my new home with Netflix, never a cracked disk from the letter carrier trying to mash it into the mailbox. Damaged disks, probably (though not definitively) due to the letter carrier, was a big problem at my old residence.

    • nicemarmot617 says:

      @blackmage439: You are completely incorrect about the Postal Service. My father worked as a regional manager for them for 20 years. He fired people every single day. It’s just that the people who replaced them were usually just as bad as the people he fired. It’s just a giant bureaucracy, and sucks as much as any other giant bureaucracy.

      Personally, I never use UPS because they will literally store your package in a warehouse .5 miles from your house in order to avoid delivering it early. And once it’s gone into the warehouse, who knows if it will ever come out again?

    • YamiNoSenshi says:

      @blackmage439:

      The “I don’t care attitude is in no way unique to the USPS. FedEx and UPS and DHL and every other service has its share of people who don’t give a shit. And I assure you, there’s also a number of people who do really honestly care. However, the bulk I’m sure is made up of people who do their job as best they can, then go home at night. watching TV and drink beer, then get up in the morning and do it again.

      Another part of it is any kind of reporting or story or anecdote. No newspaper or blog is going to report “Hundreds of thousands of packages delivered to happy consumers.” No, it’s going to be “USPS drop my package” or “DHL lost of shipment” or “FedEx kicked my week old puppy, set my package on fire, peed on my grandmother, then ran away”.

    • ninjatoddler says:

      @blackmage439: I think there’s a large group of people who are in the dark about the USPS overnight shipping options. FedEx is under contract to deliver under subsidized USPS rates to USPS depots where the mail man delivers.

      I personally prefer USPS for regular stuff because they are the only agency legally allowed to deliver mail directly into your apartment mail boxes.

  4. tande04 says:

    I was just wondering about this a few minutes ago. I walked outside of work and saw a UPS van, Fed Ex van, and DHL van all parked outside. Its possible that each was just dropping off but seemed just as likely that they were dropping of and picking up since each department probably has a carrier of choice. Seems like it would be an easy thing to streamline…

    • MrEvil says:

      @tande04: Heck, Dell ships and receives from three different services out of the same parts warehouse. Half my parts arrive DHL, the other half FedEx, and the occasional cash-register part ships out UPS and all ship from the same warehouse in Ohio.

      Of course you’re always going to see Postal Service everywhere since the others don’t do any service similar to first class mail.

  5. admiral_stabbin says:

    They can deliver for less than the others because they are losing money. The government covers the over-expenditures of that organization, and the end result is the federal government subsidizing part of the cost for your super competitively priced overnight package delivery service.

    • RonDiaz says:

      @admiral_stabbin: I am pretty sure that the postal service hasn’t gotten any taxpayer money since they were semi-privatized in 1970.

    • EarlNowak says:

      @admiral_stabbin:

      Wrong. The postal service is entirely self sufficient, except for free services provided to the blind, which is subsidized by congress as part of the americans with disabilities act.

      The post office has the ability to raise postage to match rising costs. The fact is, postage is mostly subsidized by people who send letters across town paying the same rate as people sending letters across the country.

      • MrEvil says:

        @EarlNowak: Yeah, the reason the post office can overnight ship something for so cheap is because every freaking address in the United States has 6 day a week mail service to deliver junk mail, bills, and letters anyway. All your Express Mail charge goes to pay for is the special routing required to get your item to its destination within 24 hours.

        Also, the Post Office recently received even more flexibility with rate increases. Before they could only raise rates every few years but I think Congress now permits them to raise rates once or twice per year.

        The Post Office also probably gets alot of money from stamps that never get used, or items that have too many stamps. Especially right after a rate increase when nobody can find the 1 cent or 5 cent stamps to make up the difference. I have an entire roll of H rate stamps that I’ll probably never use, so I use two at a time on letters.

  6. bogartbrown says:

    I just shipped a boatload of various-sized goods through USPS for eBay sales (thanks, economy!), and their service has never let me down.

    (OK, save for that one time where I could have walked a package to Hawaii quicker, but still…)

    I cringe when something is shipped to me via UPS, but I heart DHL and FedEx.

  7. SkokieGuy says:

    Did Consumer’s Report test whether signatures were properly obtained (or packages simply left on doorsteps)?

    Did Consumer’s Report test how fragile (but properly packed) items fared? No – they shipped a book.

    Did Consumer’s Report document if “We missed you” stickers were properly used, or simply slapped on a door without ringing a bell?

    Most people’s complaints with BOTH companies isn’t meeting their time commitment, it’s more service related. In addition the the issues above, what about tracking lost packages, insurance claims (outsourced and horrible), etc.

    If people wanted to compare costs, the information is widely available and doesn’t not require CR’s ‘investigating’.

    • distractedbyshinyobjects says:

      @SkokieGuy: Yeah – it helps when you don’t refuse to deliver anything to people’s apartments.

      Whenever I have a package coming from UPS, I have to have it diverted to my parent’s address in another state so that they can mail it to me via USPS. FedEx is almost that bad. I hate these companies so much I wouldn’t spit on them if they were on fire.

    • Traveshamockery says:

      @SkokieGuy:
      Also: USPS’ tracking system SUCKS.

    • guspaz says:

      @SkokieGuy: I can’t speak for the USPS directly, but I can talk about the experience I’ve had:

      - USPS -> Canada Post: Never had any problems on the USPS end of this. Stuff gets shipped, moves on time, gets to me. See Canada Post below.

      - UPS: Worst of all services. Poor/late updates, have had $2500 laptop left on front porch. TWICE. Without even ringing the doorbell or leaving a sticker. Charges brokerage where others do not. Has no option to redirect to local stores, forcing you to drive to a distant depot far from the downtown area that has poor public transit address. I avoid whenever possible.

      - Fedex: Excellent service. Delivers stuff on time, cheaper than all the other companies (FedEx Ground), even called a friend to ask if he’d be home at a certain time for delivery.

      - Purolator: Quite good service. Dell ships everything via them exclusively, so I’ve received a few packages from them. Will let you redirect the package to your local Purolator store, and I’ve had drivers call me on more than one occasion to ask if I was in my apartment.

      - DHL: Uses Canada post end-to-end, so they’re not really a separate shipping company; see Canada Post below.

      - Canada Post: Extremely pleased with service. Shipping charges are decent, although not the cheapest. Service is very fast. Packages shipped via XpressPost frequently arrive far sooner than estimated. If they can’t deliver to you, they drop off your package at your local post office. And since they have post offices in the back of all sorts of random stores (like a convenience store or a magazine store), your closest post office is probably a 5-10 minutes walk.

      I try to get everything shipped via Canada Post when possible, because they are by far the most convenient; even if you miss a delivery, you can get your package very easily. That said, I’m reasonably happy to have stuff shipped via FedEx or Purolator too, since they’re decent. And while I don’t ship stuff out very often, I use either FedEx (cheapest) or Canada Post (closest).

  8. Roy Hobbs says:

    I run a small internet company that has used UPS almost exclusively for the last 10 years. We have tried using Fedex, USPS, and DHL, and I can tell you with no reservations: UPS is easily the best of the bunch.

    Why? Because unlike the others, they actually seem to learn from their mistakes, and their customer service is way higher than the others.

    /not a shill for UPS, just a satisfied customer

    • AdvocatesDevil says:

      @Roy Hobbs: Agreed 100%. And because my company negotiated great rates with UPS — something you can’t do with the post office — we would have paid about $8 to ship that same book anywhere in the US via Next Day Air. Try doing that with the post office.

      • GeorginaAlcidice says:

        @AdvocatesDevil: I completely agree. And what most people don’t realize is that overnight shipping with UPS is guaranteed by 10:30 am and FedEx’s standard overnight is guaranteed to be delivered by 3:00 pm. You have to pay more to get it delivered in the morning with FedEx.

  9. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    USPS has the worst tracking system.

    • Ubik2501 says:

      @LatherRinseRepeat: Seconded. With other shippers, at least there’s something resembling a tracking system in place, but USPS tracking tends to go directly from “Electronic Shipping Info Received” to “Delivered” with zero steps in between. Your package may have fallen into a black hole and been delivered via Pony Express for all you know.

    • iheartapocalypse says:

      @Bladefist:
      Billing George Washington for innapropriate use of his travel vouchers?

      • Traveshamockery says:

        @iheartapocalypse: Yup. I posted the same above. It’s beyond useless.

        • Canino says:

          @InfiniTrent: I was told by a USPS Customer Service rep that the tracking system was implemented online when very few stations had the tracking scanners installed. She also said that the stations that did have them sometimes didn’t scan the packages because of time constraints, lack of personnel, or lack of training.

          I have noticed it getting better. About a year ago I would track a package and it would register at the intake location and mysteriously show up at my door a few days later. Now there are sometimes 3 or 4 scans in between, and the local depot scans the packages about 90% of the time which lets me know the package will arrive that day.

          • MrEvil says:

            @Canino: The Post Office is slowly adapting to the newer technologies to give them better item tracking. But mind you it’s not going to be 100% because you have LOTS of rural carriers and mail stations in remote places like Sedan New Mexico, or Valle De Oro Texas (which you can’t find on most maps). Alot of carriers doing Express Mail and Priority deliveries are getting scanners similar to the ones DHL uses (in fact they might even be the same Motorola units). However, the Post Office “batches” their tracking, meaning it won’t update until that scanner has been docked and synced on the network. DHL’s have a cellular and Wi-Fi Connection.

  10. Canino says:

    USPS is great for the most part. Unfortunately, the post office in my town is horrible. The carriers are contractors because the USPS hasn’t designated the area as non-rural (even though the city’s population is over 90,000), and the postmaster is a lazy no-account idiot. Mailed items are constantly lost, stolen, misdelivered, or days late. If I drive 5 miles to the post office in the next town, service is perfect. Amazing.

    The only other problem is that their tracking is hardly a decent tracking system, but it is slowly improving. They implemented tracking before the hardware was in place, so not all depots had tracking scanners. Even then, sometimes packages weren’t scanned because it took too long and there was no one to do it so they just shipped the packages on to avoid delay.

  11. mac-phisto says:

    i use the postal service exclusively – i’ve never had any trouble & i like that i can often “overnight” a package w/ preferred mail for ~$5 (based on proximity). bonus points for delivery to PO boxes & APO/FPO addresses.

  12. esd2020 says:

    uh, DHL?

  13. exkon says:

    I hate UPS only for the reason that I’m the last leg of their delivery route. I always end up getting my packages around 6:00 at night..

  14. DeannaFlying fox says:

    Anyone have any thoughts on SmartPost? It’s a USPS/FedEx hybrid – I’ve gotten the occasional item shipped to me that way, and haven’t had any problems with it – but then again, I also have no visibility to how much it costs. Just found out something I bought last week (BoC, for any who know what that is) was shipped out yesterday from Dallas-ish and should be getting to me here on LI late next week.

    • RonDiaz says:

      @DeannaFlying fox: I also managed to get a BOC! I have had Woot and a few other companies ship to me via SmartPost. It seems OK but it is gawd awful slow. Usually I am not in a hurry, so the cheaper the better.

      • DeannaFlying fox says:

        @RonDiaz:

        So far, the only 2 weights I’ve seen posted on the forums are 6 pounds and 9 pounds.

        Roombas, these ain’t. ;-)

        I’m not going to call for the weight, though – it’s not like it’ll change what’s in the box. When I get it, I get it – easy as that. I’m just happy a) I got the BoC and b) that they upgraded me to 3 – I was one of the unwashed masses who couldn’t get the I Want 3 button to work.

        Also bought the 16gb flash drive they had up there a day or 2 later – we’ll see how long that takes to get to me. :-)

    • DeafChick says:

      @DeannaFlying fox: Borders uses that method since it’s cheap. It’s really slow like a week or so

    • kathyl says:

      @DeannaFlying fox: One word: slow. Shutterfly uses this for some shipments and they were pony express slow. (Or at least they used to. I haven’t ordered anything from them for awhile.)

  15. Farquar says:

    If using ground:
    As far as reliability, I’ve shipped thousands of packages over the last few years. Most of these packages are shipped through USPS, some through FedEx and a very small amount through DHL.

    USPS: in the last 7 years has lost 2 packages outright, and has delayed 1 package 2 months. (it was lost, then found.) Out of thousands of packages thats it.

    FedEx: in the last 7 years they have lost 3 packages. Doesn’t seem bad except I’ve sent 15 times more packages through USPS then FedEx.

    DHL has never lost anything, but I’ve used them less than 100 times. Unlike FedEx the first $100 is NOT insured, so while its usually less expensive with DHL the risk of loss or damage is on you, not them.

    As for speed: USPS is always faster then FedEx if you are comparing first class/priority to FedEx Ground. Never pay for priority mail if your package is eligible for first class mail (up to 13 ounces). I’ve never seen a difference.

    On price, as a general rule if its under 2 lbs USPS is cheaper. If its over 2 lbs, but you are sending it in-state or to a nearby state FedEx might be cheaper. Otherwise, if you can fit it in a USPS flat rate box do that, if not, FedEx.

    Buy and print postage online with USPS. Delivery confirmation is free for priority mail, and .12 for first class (I think). Do it in the post office and you get charged .55.

  16. full.tang.halo says:

    I managed an independent packing and shipping store and I can say that UPS was by far and away the best as far as service and getting things delivered on time. In the 3 years and 4 x-mas shipping seasons I had a grand total of less than 5 packaged damaged that were packed by us sent UPS, out of probably 200,000 to 300,000 packages sent. And on all of them I was able to claim them out in less than 3 weeks.

    • Corporate-Shill says:

      @full.tang.halo:

      Wow, they paid your 5 claims?

      Not my experience. Not in the least. My 5 claims per year will be denied and denied again, even for packages that are lost. And my shipping volume is not much different than yours.

      Is this an isolated incident? Nope. My last claim for an UPS lost package being paid by was in 2002. I have not seen a damage claim paid since 2003.

      Freight insurance is the biggest scam in the world. FedEX is just as bad.

  17. theblackdog says:

    I love USPS because whenever I mail a priority mail package from DC to Phoenix it is there within 2 days, which is even faster than the 3-5 days they advertise :-D

  18. Bladefist says:

    USPS is the #1 thing the government has ever done. I’ve yet to find a #2.

    • lannister80 says:

      @Bladefist: Interstate Highway System?

      • Bladefist says:

        @lannister80: @Orv: Yes, we have nice roads and highways. True. But, I think a ton of money is wasted. I see roads being worked on that don’t need to be, to spend end of the year surplus money, so the next year the budget can be increased. So, I think there is a lot of wasteful spending.

        • Orv says:

          @Bladefist: Point taken, but I have to say most of the highway construction boondoggles I’ve seen have been on county- and state-owned roads, not on the Interstate system. Considering the sheer size of our country, our highway system really is one of the best in the world.

          • Bladefist says:

            @Orv: Yea. I wasnt trying to say our government doesnt do anything, was trying to say they dont do anything efficiently. The road situation is different where you are im sure. Here, I see a lot of money wasted. They are turning the highway outside my work from 4 lanes to 8 lanes, and there has never_ever been traffic on that highway. It goes no where.

    • Orv says:

      @Bladefist: I’d vote for the Interstate Highway System, or maybe Rural Electrification. Both programs have been highly successful at doing what they set out to do, so successful that people rarely think about them.

    • ppiddy says:

      @Bladefist: Clean Air Act?

    • perruptor says:

      @Bladefist: Why do you hate the troops? Why do you hate the Coast Guard? Why do you hate NOAA? Why do you hate NASA? Why do you hate the CPSC?

  19. katylostherart says:

    i’ve pretty much found that if i needed something overnighted the usps was not the most reliable. the only thing that’s really great about them is they can deliver to PO boxes and they don’t require extra info like phone numbers.

    i think my favorite was a book from one state away took six weeks in media mail. like literally a two hour drive took them six weeks.

  20. What The Geek says:

    Bear in mind the info above only applies if you’re and individual sending one large envelope overnight. When I shop and need overnight service, I find UPS to be the cheapest and most reliable. Now, granted, that only applies to sites I buy from (newegg, amazon, thinkgeek, and a hand full of others), but the service usually runs around ten bucks.

    On the topic of the USPS: It seems their level of reliability is directly dependent on your local post office, not their overall infrastructure.

    Example A: For about five weeks in July / August, I didn’t receive mail on Saturdays. In fact, I live in a quadraplex (four apartments in one building), and no one got mail on those Saturdays. So, I confronted the post master. He apologized, and said someone new was on at least two of those days. The problem stopped up until last weekend when, again, no mail showed up on Saturday. This time I went to consumer affairs. I probably wouldn’t have even cared except something important was due to arrive in Sat’s mail. Saturday’s mail (complete with the usual sale circulars, and town newsletter) showed up on Tuesday.

    Example B: At a previous residence, I had a package on the way via priority mail. Almost two weeks came and went, and on the same day I was planning on contacting them, the company I had ordered from actually contacted me to let me know the package was sitting in my local post office. I never received a “missed delivery” slip. I called the post office, and they promised to send it out the next day. When they did, I actually stood by the mailbox to take it from the mail man. When I inquired (politely) about the slip I never received, he said “I left a slip” (bear in mind, these are locked mailboxes) to which I replied “I never got a slip” to which he replied “It must have gotten lost in the mail” At this point, I was actually struck speechless. That’s a rarity for me – I’m a strong verbal communicator, and I’m always quick w/ a comeback – I was genuinely speechless at the fact that the guy who lost / misdelivered the slip had the stones to tell me it must have gotten lost in the mail. I just took my package, turned and walked away.

  21. emilymarion333 says:

    I travel about 5 months out the year for work and I always need something shipped to me the next day. I still trust Priority Fed-Ex overnight or DHL more than I would USPS.

    From the amount of mail that I have had lost I would not trust them with a package. I do not mail anything now – just pay all bills online…

  22. kthxbai says:

    Well as a UPS rep, (NOT FOR UPS!!! please dont kill me) I really like UPS. I get a sweet discount (5 dollar Next day air)and i can complain to director level staff about the BS they feed you when they lose your crap. Anyway, Locally, Ground shipping is the way to go. You get a big chunk of your fuel surcharge cut off(30% for air, 10 percent for ground) but itll get delivered by EOBD meaning 6-7pm (bummer) I havent had very muchy luck with Fedex, because their reps are bastards who cant help me at all… really, F*ck Fedex. Dhl hasnt doen to bad in my book, bnut i havent used them enought to really critisize. USPS, really their service sucks… I havent lost so many deliveries (gamefly and netflix) in my life. And they HAVE NO WARRANTY ON LOST GOODS- for the most part. When you ask for help they tell you to screw off. The only reason their so cheap s because they lack a massive fuelsurcharge that the private couriers are (forced?) to put into place. I like UPS, consider DHL, reluctantly except USPS, and despise fedex. really though, I should swing my ups contact number to consumerist

  23. lglessner says:

    I buy DHL prepaid letter-size envelopes from Costco for about $12 each, and they go (almost) anywhere in the US by noon the next day. Pickup is free. Can’t beat that price, but DHL does exclude some rural zip-codes.

  24. altryan says:

    what if the USPS was privatized, split up and sold off? What kind of impact would that have, I wonder???

    • RonDiaz says:

      @altryan: USPS is already semi-privatized. It doesn’t receive any subsidy from the federal gov’t and therefore your tax dollars and is not subject to Congressional oversight.

      • sir_pantsalot says:

        @RonDiaz:
        The Postal Service is exempt from paying federal taxes. USPS can borrow money at discounted rates, and can condemn and acquire private property under governmental rights of eminent domain.

        The USPS does get some taxpayer support. Around $96 million is budgeted annually by Congress for the “Postal Service Fund.” These funds are used to compensate USPS for postage-free mailing for all legally blind persons and for mail-in election ballots sent from US citizens living overseas. A portion of the funds also pays USPS for providing address information to state and local child support enforcement agencies, and for keeping some rural posts offices in operation.

        I found the above online. Also since the employees are government employees or civil servants I would think a big portion of their benefits come from the government not the post office. If DHL, UPS or FedEx received the benefits above they might be able to beat the price of the USPS.

        • Orv says:

          @sir_pantsalot: With that comes a pretty significant mandate, though. USPS guarantees universal delivery everywhere in the U.S., something that none of those private companies offer. I’m not sure they’d want to pick up all those rural routes, even in exchange for the subsidies you mention.

          • sir_pantsalot says:

            @Orv: I know that is their job but they get subsidized for it. I think the others would gladly open a location that wasn’t profitable if someone else would pay to operating expense and they got to keep what little income came in.

  25. sir_pantsalot says:

    I think that if DHL or UPS handed you 10 pieces of junk advertisement with your package they might be a little more competitive with their prices.

  26. Wild Monkey says:

    Never had a problem shipping with FedEx. Get packages from companies using FedEx is another story. UPS is reliable but we don’t ship with them. DHL is the worst of the three private carriers. 12 different deliveries to the same address came up with 12 different reasons why it couldn’t be delivered on time. The worst being that no one was home while the client sat at the curb all day and never saw a truck drive by. After that, the client agreed to our higher shipping charges associated with FedEx and hasn’t missed a shipment since. USPS has become somewhat unreliable in my area. We’ve received letters a month after they have been post marked.

  27. QuiteSpunky says:

    Moving from New York to Seattle I shipped all my things USPS. Between Media Mail and freight (or whatever the slowest shipping is), I paid about $200 to ship 14 medium-large boxes, making it by far the cheapest option. They did lose a box though, so I guess you get what you pay for.

  28. shepd says:

    USPS only for me. UPS charges incredibly ridiculous amounts of brokerage, so much in fact it’s worth the 2 hour drive (each way) to do it myself. FedEx isn’t as bad, but it’s still twice what USPS cahrges. I won’t do eBay business with sellers that only ship UPS. I’ll email them and explain the proposition: I’ll buy your item if you make the exception. Most will do it. The rest can re-list their items for all I care.

    Avoid UPS like the plague, if you’re Canadian.

  29. LavernaXuthus says:

    Although I know that Fedex usually is not the cheapest, I prefer to use them for items I really care about, so they have my vote for preferred carrier.

    The amount of times Fedex delivers packages have not been damaged is nill. The times UPS delivers packages damaged (dings and outright have to returns) are so high that I have to look at every package I get (forced to sign for everything because someone took packages off my porch). I have seen boxes that look like someone dropped them from a huge height, and others that appear been jammed by sharp objects. UPS boxes are also covered in tar like grease so I have to keep them on a cleanable surface before I open the box.

    As for USPS they try too hard to fit a package into a mailbox. There have been a lot of times in the past few years where I don’t even know how they managed to jam the package into my mailbox. Boxes are crumpled, letters which say don’t bend are bent to get the fit. If they deliver to your front door the package is fine.

  30. Skankingmike says:

    FedEx Does get a lot of benefits from the government mostly through USPS.

    FedEx has a huge contract with USPS in their Domestic and International shipping by using FedEx’s planes. They won a 1 Billion Dollar contract from them. ever notice their drop boxes out side of USPS or the fact that you can ship some FedEx in USPS?

    FedEx is also doing the Ballot mailing this year and years to come.

    DHL is leaving America almost exclusively and selling off many of its portions to FedEx.

  31. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

    I’ve always had exceptional luck with DHL. I shipped/received about one package every two weeks for a few years and never had a problem with them.
    In my experience, FedEx is fast, but they’re still not on the top of my list. Two weekends ago I watched a carrier flip over a box clearly labeled “LIVE ANIMALS, THIS END UP” and carry it slung over sideways on his hip. He quickly righted it when I informed him he was carrying a snake I had ordered, and please put her right-side up…but I still wonder how often it had happened during the overnight shipment.

  32. bobpence says:

    They sent stuff across town and paid for overnight? UPS Ground is a better option, depending on time of day needed for delivery. And speaking of time of day, try sending an Express Mail package at 4 or 6 p.m. and seeing if it gets there tomorrow.

  33. CaliforniaCajun says:

    “We have an infrastructure in place and letter carriers everywhere. We’re simply adding package delivery to a network that already exists.”

    Yes, this distribution system is called the commercial airlines, and this “cheap” mail they’re carrying is the reason you’re now paying/more to check a bag. In reality, you’re paying roughly the same rate to take your bag on vacation as the USPS pays to ship a sack of mail.

    That mail sack (not really a sack anymore) and your checked bag are going in the belly of the airplane – and when USPS can leverage that kind of network, it’s not surprising that they can ship lots of packages relatively quickly at low cost.

  34. Parting says:

    Duh!
    However, it also depends on your local delivery crew. If they are lazy, your package will not get there on time.

    Basically, you have to try and test for yourself.

  35. brettbee says:

    With my company’s account, a FedEx envelope from NJ to a California residence is $9.70 ($6.94 for a commercial address) for Standard Overnight. A 5lb. FedEx Box is $17.42 to a residence and $14.66 to a commercial address.

    I don’t do a lot of shipping, but with these rates, reliable tracking, and the included insurance, FedEx is really the best value for me.

  36. Chi says:

    Additionally, it seems that from the prices used, these are rack rates offered by each shipping company.

    I know for a fact that FedEx and DHL have pricing models that adjust per shipment given the volume of shipping one does. This probably won’t matter for the person who is just sending 1 or 2 packages every now and then, but for business who may ship dozens (if not hundreds) of packages per day, the rates would be completely different.

    Case in point, the company I work for, we ship about 8~10 packages a day (domestic and international) and for a letter-sized shipment (weight 1 lbs) from east coast to west cost only costs $12.95 for overnight standard service. The rack rate is however $27.

    So caveat emptor on this particular review.

    How would I suggest folks ship 1 or 2 packages at better rates than Rack? I’d probably recommend checking prices with a busy independent shipper uses any of the express couriers (including USPS). If they get a lot of volume they probably already have reduced shipping costs and can probably offer that as savings to the customer (after all, if it costs more to go to them than FedEx or DHL directly, they would be out of business).

  37. Traveshamockery says:

    Pony Express FTW!

  38. Corporate-Shill says:

    Hmmmm

    I could do the same test and reach a different set of conclusions. WHY? Because of the variables involved with this particular test. Next time try a 30lb box shipped to a verified business location. UPS followed by FedEX will whoop USPS on the price. Change the paramaeters to regional versus cross country and the results change. Change the variables again and the results change again.

    Typical cookedup testing from CR.

  39. se7a7n7 says:

    Flat rate envelope tip: it’s $4.75 for anywhere in the US or $11.95 for any place International. You’d be surprised at what you can fit in those flat rate envelopes. The USPS has a small box for Priority Mail that fits in the Flat Rate envelope very snugly. Doing this has saved me lots of money.

  40. Anonymous says:

    I am a retired EXPRESS MAIL SERVICE CLERK from the USPS. Yes, we had good and bad employees. I treated my customers the way I wanted to be treated. I received several nice letters from customers I had the priveledge of serving. I was one that went above the call of duty to help my customers. The USPS is about 98% perfect, but 2% of millions of pieces is a lot of mistakes. Imagine if everything was 98% perfect. Do 98% of our children graduate? Do 98% of our sick recover? Are our Senators and congressmen right 98%. 98% would be a great world. I had one irate customer that I delf with for several days. She had no tracking number and I was trying to track it by sending and receiving address with no success. I even used my personal computer at home on my off days to try to find her package. Finally she had enough and told me she would never use UPS again. I explained we were not UPS, but USPS, and suggested she use our service next time. I had more positive results than negative. The government DOES NOT contribute money to the USPS. For many years now, they have been self supporting.

  41. MasterThief says:

    One caveat: the results for businesses and other places with dedicated accounts are going to be very different. (Part of my job at the university where I work is to track our shipping expenses. Disclosure: we have a FedEx account, but not a UPS account.)

    1. FedEx in particular gives massive volume discounts – the more you ship, the less your price. It’s gotten to the point where we’re thinking about letting students ship FedEx directly from the campus post office because the prices are so good and we’d get additional volume discounts.

    2. U.S. Mail is still the best bet within your local area (30-50 miles or so seems to be the outer bound) – you can send the package regular first-class mail and it will still get there overnight. Also, USPS is much less expensive for heavy packages.

    3. FedEx’s (and UPS’s) tracking system is much better – it updates continuously (the scanners the drivers have sync like PDA’s and the trucks are equipped with wireless data transmitters.) USPS’s is primitive by comparison – it only updates once a day at midnight EST or so. So for really time-sensitive stuff (i.e. the things you’d get fired over), stick with FedEx or UPS.

    4. Why no DHL comparison? They have just as much national reach and service capabilities as UPS and FedEx.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I will never ship UPS again. I recently shipped a .5 oz. laptop HD from Ohio to California. After is shipped I am told that it “dimensionally weighed” 9 pounds. They charged my credit card an additional $20.30 without my approval for additional charges + additional “fuel surcharges”.

    Shipping this $60 drive to be replaced under warranty has now cost me $50. I would have been much better buying a new drive!

  43. aftercancer says:

    I hate UPS, I am close to the end of the route so when they deliver it is at 7pm or later. The last straw was when they left art sitting on the front stoop in the rain! Also keep in mind that Fed Ex and UPS don’t deliver on weekends without paying through the nose. USPS gets my mail to me wherever I am, I used to live in a small rural town, for the same price as anywhere else in the country. I’d love to see them get a bit more green and they do have some jerks working for them but there are jerks everywhere!

  44. zarex42 says:

    TNT beats all of them, hands down. Far cheaper than any of the major overnight carriers – especially internationally, and just as fast.

  45. malthusan says:

    The variety of experiences posted in this thread is amazing. Given these comments, UPS, USPS, and FedEx are all the best and worst carriers in the world, which just seems a bit odd. Given it’s all anecdotal anyway, I’ll toss my experiences in.

    USPS — I’ll use the USPS to mail letters across town, and that’s it. Anything important gets tucked in a shipping envelope and sent via FedEx or UPS. I’ve never once had an overnight package delivered on time by the Post Office. Not once. Priority shipping, whether in state or out of state, in my experience, adds at least a week to the ship-time. Again, not once have I sent a package or a letter by priority mail and had it reach its destination within two weeks, let alone 3-5 days.

    UPS/FedEx — never a problem, personally or when I worked as an inventory manager and shipped/received hundreds of packages a month. No lost items, a few damaged items that we were compensated for, no hassles with service.

    Again, my experience, for what it’s worth.

  46. Dyscord says:

    Bah. Santa Claus beats them all. Talk about the king of overnight shipping. :D

  47. Robobot says:

    As a comparison: It costs over $30 to send a letter overnight at Mail Boxes, Etc. Even guaranteed 3-day on letters is over $20. Yuck.

  48. albokay says:

    anything is better than garbage UPS. They offer insurance for the packages then when they come in banged up and broken they refuse the insurance claim if its anything over 100 bucks.

  49. valthun says:

    I find that the USPS tracking system is the worst and they don’t care if you are unsure where you package is, even though its supposed to be there. Why they don’t have actual live tracking is beyond me. Even if the tracking is simply telling me that it hit an office then is in the postal hands out for delivery.

  50. Anonymous says:

    One of the reasons that USPS is fast is that most of their Express Mail packages move in the belly of a FedEx aircraft. The pickup and delivery is handled by USPS but linehaul is FedEx. As for DHL, say goodbye. They shrunk their network in May (leaving delivery to the USPS in any remotely outlying area). Their volume is now down by half what it was last year and rumor has it that they will stop all domestic service by spring 2009. And yes, I work for FedEx…

  51. wezelboy says:

    I’ve noticed a big change in USPS service in the past three months. Before, they would go out of their way to make sure my packages would get to me. Now, they don’t give a rats ass.

  52. Adisharr says:

    I wouldn’t ship anything I truly cared about through the USPS. I’ve hardly ever had any issues with UPS and we ship about 30 packages a day – average value of $1k.

  53. dentedvw says:

    I hate the USPS. Every time, EVERY TIME I send a package with them, it gets “lost”.
    And what’s with the “delivery confirmation” and “insurance” baloney anyway? I asked the gal at the counter if she thought that the package wouldn’t get there if I didn’t buy the extras. She laughed. Guess what? Didn’t get there.
    I suspect that when some employees see a package without that stuff, it’s like they see a package with their name on it, because those are always the ones that don’t make it.
    I have lost almost every package I send that way.
    Which is why, I now only use UPS for that kind of thing.
    I trust the USPS with my least valuable stuff, delivering junk mail to me. Anything else, well, no way they get to put their grubby hands on it.

  54. handyr says:

    It depends on the post office to run the anchor lap and unfortunately this is where it breaks down. According to the tracking, once it hits the PO it’s at least another week before it lands at my door.

  55. Anonymous says:

    Most people don’t realize once UPS or FedEx takes your package, it gets thrown on the same planes as the USPS stuff… that’s why they all basically have the same turnaround time…

    You pay more for the branding and advertising costs that UPS and Fed Ex have to cover.

    And as “an independent part of the U.S. government’s executive branch”, the USPS can “afford” the low rates because they are pretty much subsidized to continue existing by the gov’t. (The ORIGIANAL Bailout, still ongoing….)

    The USPS hasn’t actually turned a profit in decades, especially with the advent of the internet.

  56. Maulleigh says:

    I am always shocked at how much people overspend on UPS and Fedex when the USPS comes through every time and for less.

    Idiots.

    • oneandone says:

      @Maulleigh: Unfair. I recently had to ship a 9-lb package overnight to another state but couldn’t leave work to mail it, and scheduling a pick up wasn’t an option. USPS was much cheaper, but had no branches within 10 miles open past 5 pm. Meanwhile, each of the 3 Fedex places within walking distance would accept my package until 8 pm and deliver by noon.

      I paid about twice as much as I would have for USPS so I didn’t completely enjoy the experience, but I was happy for the extended hours. Paying more for more service was worth it that time.

  57. calchip says:

    I used to be a HUGE fan of FedEx. There were quite a number of absolutely incredible stories, where they went above and beyond to ensure a package was delivered on time.

    Sadly, that level of quality ended pretty abruptly in the late 90s.

    The last time I attempted to use them in quantity, their failure rate was astounding; something like 8 out of 25 packages were not delivered on time, all for different reasons: the drop box didn’t get picked up, the plane broke and they couldn’t be bothered to move the packages to another plane, packages got stuck at the hub, etc. The big difference I noticed was that, unlike before, nobody — even the so-called “executive customer service” — really gave a shit or was willing to do what was necessary to fix the problem. And on top of that, an 8 week hassle (which I was told was “normal”) to get payment for a damaged package.

    Contrast that to UPS which used to be pretty mediocre prior to the 1990s; I don’t think I’ve had a single delivery failure, no damaged packages, and when I’ve had to contact customer service to do something (arrange a redelivery or meet a driver or something), they have always been fantastic.

    It’s almost as though the management that gave a crap at FedEx all moved to UPS, and the management that didn’t give a crap at UPS all moved to FedEx.

    Postal service seems also to have improved dramatically. We send a lot of our stuff priority now, and, while it does depend on your local post office, we’ve had almost no problems with them in the past several years.

  58. eliblack says:

    I work for a company that ships a lot of stuff – we use FedEx because our experience with them has been the most positive. If you do a lot of overnight shipping, look into FedEx’s Next Day envelopes. I believe they cost between $10-15, for as much stuff as you can pack into one (our shipping guys have gotten pretty good at that). DHL has a similar program called FlightReady, but DHL is going out of business, so we stopped using those :(

  59. Anonymous says:

    Lets not forget that the USPS is a government sanctioned monopoly. Your mailbox – the one that you bought, installed and maintain – UPS and FedEx are prohibited, by law, from putting ANYTHING in it. USPS also pays ZERO vehicle registrations, sales taxes, excise taxes, fuel taxes, etc etc etc

  60. RedwoodFlyer says:

    Ouch…wonder how much it cost Amazon.com to ship me a lawnmower and an over-the-range microwave overnight halfway across the country…probably way more than the extra $4 I paid!