DHL Wins Package Race, UPS Still In Transit

Every year Georgia Tech’s Supply Chain and Logistics Institute holds a shipping race to see who can deliver packages to remote locations the quickest. Unbeknownst to the companies, they’re competing in the Olympics of shipping.

This year DHL won delivering first to 3 of the 5 locations, and second to the remaining 2. From Georgia Tech:

Admittedly, the race is an extreme test of the carriers’ ability to deliver anywhere in the world, Bartholdi said. This year’s packages were sent on April 13 to Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Burma); Tikrit, Iraq (one of the centers of Sunni insurgency); Floranopolis, Brazil (a small island); Harare, Zimbabwe and Apia, Samoa. Most packages arrived with a week or two, but one has yet to be delivered or returned.

DHL beat the competition this year, delivering first to three of the five locations and second to the remaining two. FedEx managed to deliver to three locations, and UPS delivered parcels to two. The remaining packages from FedEx and UPS went undelivered for a variety of reasons. In past races, the carriers traded wins in different locales.

Doesn’t the DHL guy look happy? He was the first to Tikrit, Iraq. That’s a Black Hawk helicopter behind him. Sadly, UPS never even made it.
The contest write up has some pretty hilarious commentary…highlights inside.

Some snippets we enjoyed:

FedEx and UPS both claimed that they could not ship to Myanmar but could not explain why. DHL said that it could ship in to but not ship out of Myanmar.

The phone representative at UPS said that there was no country named Samoa. (In 1997 Western Samoa changed its name to Samoa, but it still exists as Western Samoa in the UPS database, as you can see by looking at under “Shipping: Calculate Time and Cost”.)

We have no idea why our FedEx package is being held in Harare, as we prepaid everything. When our correspondent tried to pick up the package, it could not be found.

Prices of the shipments varied considerably; for example, one carrier charged $94.45 to Apia while another charged $169.10.

This sounds fun, why didn’t we attend Georgia Tech? —MEGHANN MARCO

The Great Package Race 2007 [Georgia Tech]
Map of the Race to Tikrit
Global Package Race Puts Major Carriers to the Test [Georgia Tech]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.