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FedEx vs UPS vs USPS
Replies to an older thread...

 4:28 pm on Aug 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

There's a thread about three years old on this topic, and I wanted to A) reply to some of those comments, and
B) offer some more recent observations of my own.

Many of the posters in that thread mentioned that FedEx Home drivers were paid by the delivery. This would explain why I've had FedEx Home delivering to wrong addresses and/or leaving several thousands of dollars' worth of parcels in plain view on a public street, rather than finding someone home and making sure the package got to the intended recipient.

Contacts with Federal Express in attempts to resolve that issue resulted in replies which stated basically "What issue?"

Whereas contacts with UPS result in the customer service folks moving heaven and hell in an attempt to locate the problem and correct it ASAP.

The postal Service is similar, although a bit more sluggish than UPS. Packages that go astray generally get located and delivery corrected if possible (with some notable exceptions - with the Postal Service, it seems to make a difference which destination post office the package goes through.)

Further thoughts?



 10:17 pm on Aug 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

The postal service is fine, all things considered. 99% of the time they do what they're supposed to. However, they have some major flaws. The web based postage and actual office systems are not linked and oftentimes do not match each other. You do one package online, then if you try to do the same thing in an office, they try to charge way more. If you try and talk to them about it, they act like the website is some totally separate entity that has nothing to do with them, which is ridiculous.

Other than that, I'd say their biggest problem is that a good portion of their employees need a major attitude adjustment. Considering the postal service is a job that really doesn't require much to get into, they get paid fairly decently with decent perks. Considering a lot of people in DC would like to close half the service, you'd think that most of the employees would bend over backwards to help. My experience is that's not the case... I do a pretty good chunk of biz through them, and I've been treated like crap numerous times. And when I've brought up how much I'm going to be giving them in a year, I basically just got ignored, like they couldn't care less. And it's not like I'm some hard to get along with person. I realize you can get farther going higher up the ladder with complaints, but you shouldn't have to do that for every little thing.

UPS... Don't particularly like them. A lot of the people are very arrogant.

FedX... Don't deal with them much. The ground service has the feel of a local messenger service these days.

My complaint with shippers in general is the handling. I was told by a UPS guy the other day, that boxes I had would not be covered by the insurance, because my packing didn't meet their requirement. He told me that it had to be 4" of packing on all sides of each item. OK, if I did that, my three boxes would have turned into 6, at twice the size, and it would have cost me $500 to send the stuff three states over. That's absurd. You shouldn't have to pack your stuff to survive a nuclear blast, just to send it over a few states.


 10:57 pm on Aug 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

USPS - With the on-line vs in-person - they say right up front that you get a discount by using the on-line services, so I'm not too surprised that the nice lady at the counter wanted more to ship the same size package... And at the local UPS Customer Service Center, THAT nice lady said as long as it doesn't shift when they shake it, it's good to go. I'd make sure that no fiddly-bits, like knobs or switches, are close enough to the outside box to get smashed, but beyond that, I just wrap in bubble wrap, jam some Styrofoam or rigid foam blocks in and seal 'er up. They take it, it gets where it's going in fine shape.


 1:19 am on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Oh yeah, they'll take it. But if it does NOT get to where it's going in one piece, they are not going to honor the claim, because you didn't pack it their way. And their way is a way that they basically know nobody is ever going to do... ie: They're going to deny most claims and do.

I'm not talking 10% rise in price on the USPS deal... I'm talking like... $15 online, and they want $32 in the office. This has happen to me numerous times on special stuff I had to drop. It's also happened to customers that wanted to return stuff. The dimensional values do not match between the systems. Stuff that goes through as under the balloon rate gets kicked out as over the balloon rate in the office system. I've actually tested it with them, putting in the exact same dimensions, and they admitted the systems are not matched properly.


 2:34 am on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hmm. Never had THAT issue with USPS. If I buy postage online, I just drop it in the box and away it goes. Usually it's Flat Rate Box stuff, although there have been a few standard Priority Mail or Media Mail items that I've sent using on-line postage, and never an issue with Postage Due - I did notice that regardless of what I get charged, though, the amount SHOWN on the label would be the amount I'd have paid if I went to the window for service.

As To UPS and their packaging requirements - I've never had a claim because of damaged goods in shipment when packed as I described above. Perhaps it's a local issue? Are you sending via UPS, either pickup or at the Customer Service Center? Or are you going to the UPS Store - AKA Mailboxes, Etc.? Those are franchises, and could well be different than UPS Corporate locations.


 6:02 pm on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Re the postal service being a job that "really doesn't require that much to get into," I don't think that is quite true. A lot of the clerks are what they call temps, even though they can work for the post office for years. They don't get benefits and they don't get the good pay. Even a lot of the rural carriers are temps. So there's that to consider if you get someone who is a crank. But sometimes people are just cranks. I too have had people who had no conception that customers like me are where the money is, not someone coming in to buy a stamp. Some people are idiots. What can you do. I myself almost never go to the actual post office, though. I mostly just deal with the carriers, and then when there is a problem, I usually contact the 800 number, because they seem to be a bit more responsive than the local office.

OTOH, I have gotten fed up with people who hate the post office and consider abolishing it to be necessary to life on this planet. To a man, they never know jack about it and rarely use it. Their objection is not based on reality but on some weird ideology. I would like them to explain to me how they think US business would be affected if the post office ceased its existence. They can't. As far as I am concerned, they have absorbed so many "talking points" they are no longer capable of reasoning. They just yell about how it's a "failure." I have used the post office for the past ten years as a fundamental part of my business. They are able to get a package from my pokey town in upstate NY to CA in ONE DAY for five dollars. That's not what I call a "failure."

I don't use UPS because I don't see any need to. Maybe I would if I sold stuff that was bulky or heavy; I don't know. I like using the online software for postal shipping (NOT the post office site, which is terribly designed). The UPS drivers are great but more and more nowadays I get boxes from UPS that are really banged up, even squashed. In contrast, this rarely happens with the post office. The UPS driver asked me if it was okay for him to ring the doorbell and just leave stuff on the patio and I said yes. He doesn't leave things in plain sight. He has some consciousness about what he is doing. The FedEx guy, in contrast, has never spoken to me and leaves brand new printers in their printer boxes in the middle of the driveway. I am lucky I am usually here and hear the truck.


 7:12 pm on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

HRoth, that last is exactly my point of contention with FedEx vs UPS. If no-one is home, UPS leaves a TAG, not the package - call and say when and where the package can be delivered - or picked up - and that's what happens. FedEx, OTOH, will leave a package anywhere and say it was delivered. Had THAT happen twice. I called to inquire where my package was, they claimed it was delivered, and I asked WHERE, because it certainly had NOT been delivered to my address! The person on the other end insisted it HAD been, and hung up during the first one. A search, on foot, by myself, discovered the missing shipment two streets over... following which I sent a very nasty letter to Memphis. The second time, it was three doors down on the opposite side of the street, at an abandoned house. And folks wonder why I'm so DOWN on FedEx Ground.... (sigh)


 9:12 pm on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

Oh yeah, I agree. I by no means am one of those people that want's to abolish the PO. I am 95% satisfied with them. I think it's pretty cool that you can send stuff all around the world for about $35. UPS would want $200 and up for the same thing. But it's just frustrating for me, because every once in a while I have to bring stuff in for some reason. And my deal is that I send a lot of long things. Well, they HATE long items. I don't know why, but they just do. And I can bet money that if I ever have to bring one of them in or somebody wants to return one to me, they are going to either: A. Say they don't take stuff like that. Or: B. Try to manipulate the dimensions so they can charge the highest rate possible. I can't tell you how many times I've seen this. I've had people add two inches on to boxes. Just blatantly trying to rip me off, because they know that if they just add an inch, it will knock it up another $10 or something. Some of these people interpret a tape measure like they're reading tea leaves. Even to this day, for as long as I've been dropping at my PO, I still occasionally get the person shaking their head 'no' as soon as they see me walking up with the long boxes. Then the inevitable argument ensues, where they tell me they don't take stuff like that, and I tell them it's way below their max girth limit. After you've gone through this same argument with people about 80 times, it gets a bit tedious. I can't just allow them to pick it up from me, because they make the regular guy/gal do that, and I guess because I'm basically in a residential area, they think that they shouldn't have to do that. So I got so tired of having to listen to them whine about it, that I just drop the stuff off myself. So that's my big gripe. But I am definitely not one of those irrational people that thinks because we have the internet, that nobody needs a postal service anymore. Those people are in the same category as the idiots who want to completely eliminate the space program, and trains, and the military, and basically anything that they PERSONALLY don't use. Because if THEY don't use it, then they think it's a waste of money.

HR... Which of the PO applications do you use?


 12:37 am on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

dpd1, I use stamps.com. It could use improvement on the international mail part, but otherwise, it's a lot better than usps.com. Have you tried making an appointment with the postmaster/mistress of your po and telling them about the issue? I did that when I was having problems with clerks insisting that I could not get a delivery confirmation on a rigid mailer sent first class because it wasn't thick enough to qualify as a thick envelope. The postmistress sent a memo to all the clerks saying that it could be done and was right in their own regs, so that was the end of that problem.


 10:15 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

OK, I'll check that one out. I was also looking at that other one... I forget the name. Starts with an E.

I've talked with the postmaster. Problem is, this is a very busy area. They have all kinds of issues. The one I drop at is smaller, and he gets it. But I still have some newbies give me crap every now and again. But the office that is technically mine is actually farther away and much bigger. They basically don't care. They're handling like, god knows how many people. So they just aren't going to give any one person much attention. In fact, they just flat out stopped answering their phone. I get the feeling that some of these offices are getting cut back, and some of the people are basically just taking it out on the public... Kind of like... 'OK, you don't want to fund us? Then we won't answer our phone anymore... See how you like that'.


 10:41 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just blatantly trying to rip me off, because they know that if they just add an inch, it will knock it up another $10 or something.

What length of items are you shipping? Parcel Post charges the same rate for any package up to 130 inches in length + girth, which is a huge advantage over UPS.

I ship 4x4 tubes that are 74 inches long for regular Parcel post rates all the time. You have to have a seriously-long package to get charged balloon rates.


 11:44 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hey, here's one for you -

TODAY, I observed a FedEx parcel being left... not on a porch, not in a secure spot, but RIGHT ON THE PUBLIC SIDEWALK, leaning against the side of a building. Near, but not at, a side door into an apartment building. And I saw the delivery person leave it there. new sig line - Fed Up with FedEx.


 12:46 am on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

What length of items are you shipping? Parcel Post charges the same rate for any package up to 130 inches in length + girth, which is a huge advantage over UPS.

I ship 4x4 tubes that are 74 inches long for regular Parcel post rates all the time. You have to have a seriously-long package to get charged balloon rates.

I'm doing the triangle boxes, Priority. Theirs are 5x5x6, then whatever length I make them. I usually do 60" to 74". What the actual people will often do is just assume it's over the 108" just by looking at it. Which it's not. Either that or they will fudge the measurements. You're supposed to lay it on it's largest side and take that (width), then measure up (height) nearest inch, then length, then you take a fourth measurement all the way around the narrow part for the girth. This is how the site shows to measure it with illustrations and everything. When the people in the office measure it, they will measure it as if it's a square. Which obviously adds on way more. I've more than once caught them saying the height is 6". Well, if you measure from the bottom to the tip of the triangle, it's under 5". So even if you round it off, it should be 5". I've seen them say it's 6". When I ask how they get that, they say it's the nearest inch... I'm like.. OK, it's actually about 4 3/4, so that's 5", not 6". They just kind of don't say anything and put it as 5" then, as if they knew they were doing it wrong but just figured I would be too stupid to know.

I think what it comes down to is that they see these long things and they put it in, and when it comes back as only $15 or something, they just think that must be wrong... that it's too cheap. So they just keep manipulating it until it goes over the 84". Some of them DO go over the 84", like the 74" long one, and that's fine. But I've told them... Hey, I'm just going by your own rules... If you think it's too cheap, that's not my fault.

But I drop most of the stuff with postage already on, and they don't seem to care about that. I've never had anything returned in 10 years. It's only when I have to bring something in... Sometimes the site won't take certain addresses. If other sites will allow you to force it to take an address, then I should change.

The FedEx ground guys are just your average messenger type guys now. They don't get paid a lot and I doubt they have any real benefits. So their motivation isn't great.


 1:40 am on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

stamps.com will allow you to force an address. It will say it can't be added to the address book, big deal. That is one big advantage over usps.com. I've had that same experience, where usps.com won't take an address. I'll check it on Google and it's real.

The other service is Endicia. I looked at that too but now I can't remember why I didn't choose it.


 3:02 am on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

OK, then I should change. Because that is a pain when it does that. However... I've found that it does that sometimes, because people do not receive mail at their house. It's like some rural route deal or something, and they actually have to get their mail at a PO box. Hard to believe there's still areas that remote, but I guess there are. So then I just ask for the PO box. But sometimes it's because their address just isn't in the database for some weird reason.


 4:18 am on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

I use a PO Box to force the mail away from the branch. Several issues with that particular branch PO, but not at the "main" PO downtown. However, I'd never heard of the USPS not accepting an address because it's invalid. Weird! I'm glad I re-opened this topic! Learning new stuff!


 2:02 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's some kind of glitch in their online database. Sometimes it is on a rural route, but I have had addresses it won't accept that are in cities.

The other nice thing about stamps.com is that the address block is just one square instead of a form for each line, like on usps.com. It is loads faster. Except for international, which is still wiggy. I have figured out that for international on stamps.com, you need to put the city, province, and postal code on the same line with no commas, country spelled out on the next line, then let the software keep the province on the same line as the city. It goes through okay then.


 2:22 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

I ship about 1,000 packages a month via USPS - 99% of them get where they are going - and we, for the most part, do not purchase insurance. We ship a small amount via UPS - but only because we have many clients in the northeast and if we use UPS ground within the tristate area it functions as 'next day delivery'.

My beef with UPS: charging extra for residential delivery, and fuel surcharges, and all kinds of other charges that you don't see up front. As well, internationally, which for us with UPS would be canada, customs is a mystery, and charges a base 'surcharge' of $30 (in some places) just to get processed. Otherwise we would use them more.

FedEx: Just won't do it - too unreliable. I have many vendors who ship to me via FEDEX and they are satisfied with it - but they are shipping to BUSINESEES mostly who are always open - I would not use fedex for customer delivery

USPS - we process all our payments via paypal, and ship 90% straight from their multiorder system which allows you to produce labels for multiple packages at once. The pricing is good - there is a slight incentive for paypal users and it provides good tracking. We have found that, aside for the irritability of postal workers, which seems to be part and parcel (no pun intended) of being a postal worker, they are fantastic. Both Paypal and Stamps.com (we use both) work great.

BOth Stamps and Paypal integrate with many 3rd party shopping carts so, for instance, we don't have to type anything into either, the orders download on their own and you just put the weight in and produce the label. Stamps.com can be a bear to configure, especially if you want to use their SCALE to automatically preload weights, which we do.


 2:27 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, on priority mail w/confirmation "click-n-ship" on www.usps.com will not allow invalid addresses, but both Endicia/Dazzle (the name of their software) and Stamps.com will allow you to override that. Since we swapped from click-n-ship to endicia, we have not had a problem with returns from these previously "invalid" addresses. Like dpd1, I also found that the invalids were usually people living in the country submitting their RR street address, not their PO box (despite selecting US Mail as the shipping option). Also, the endicia/dazzle software gives you suggestions on what might be the issue on the address - flying blind with click-n-ship.

We were always using 1-up 8.5x11 labels, dymo or postal meter tape for our labels, but now that we use endicia, we use 4x6 for everything (including first-class). IMO, this is the biggest time and cost savings. Waiting in line at the PO was too time-consuming, dymo labels and postal ribbon/tape are expensive and usually required multiple labels, so we purchased a direct thermal Zebra printer. Looks as professional as any amazon shipment, can print mail-to, postage and return address in one fell swoop. We buy the labels in boxes of fan-fold (get much more than the rolls) and costs less than $0.02 per label. Since they are direct thermal, no additional ribbon/ink/materials are needed.


 3:01 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

TODAY, I observed a FedEx parcel being left... not on a porch, not in a secure spot, but RIGHT ON THE PUBLIC SIDEWALK, leaning against the side of a building. Near, but not at, a side door into an apartment building. And I saw the delivery person leave it there. new sig line - Fed Up with FedEx.

When we owned an online bookstore, we were on good terms with our courier driver. One day his truck breaks down in front of our house. We fed him dinner, then loaded all his packages into my minivan and we drove him to the terminal where I got to see the staff unload my packages. It's like sausages, trust me, you do not want to see this stuff being made.


 3:05 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

Interesting comments on FedEx. We ship 8,000+ packages a month mainly to residential. Most of these go via FedEx. (It seems that not everyone is aware that FedEx has a residential service that delivers Tuesday - Saturday.) We ship a few packages with UPS and in the past had used UPS exclusively. Since switching to FedEx we have had less issues with package misdirection and damage. FedEx also has better pricing.


 3:27 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

... we have not had a problem with returns from these previously "invalid" addresses.

Different experience here. Last month, I used the override in Endicia, after pulling up the address in Google Maps. It was a main street in a mid-sized town, and Street View showed the building.

We mailed the package, it was returned with a USPS "undeliverable as addressed" sticker, then got yelled at by the customer who stated, "UPS never has a problem... why ship with the post office anyway? It's your fault, <<blah, blah, blah>>..."

Now, we always contact the customer on the phone if the address doesn't verify. Soemtimes they say, "yea, we expected your call... ship it and it'll arrive fine" (which it does). Other times, they'll say, "oh, you can't use USPS... we don't have a mailbox."

It's always best to check before you spend $5+ on postage.


 3:35 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

According to my personal experiences. FedEx is the best of all.


 8:17 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

Generally, you can specify how UPS and Fedex handle delivery if nobody is home. Most of my shipments from both carriers are left on my porch unless the shipper specified that a signature was required.

Best UPS story as a shipper. We shipped the package, UPS said they delivered it, the customer didn't get it. We replaced the item. Months later, the weather turned nice and the customer went to fire up his barbecue grill... and found the package where the UPS guy had left it!


 8:55 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am in Canada, we use UPS for all of our US shipments (1000's per month), and Purolator & UPS for Canada. We only do a little Canada Post.

We are happiest with UPS. They treat us very well and do a very good job at getting packages to the customer on-time and in 1 piece.

FedEx, you have to be careful which FedEx you are talking about here. There are 2 divisions, FedEx Ground (which the drivers are contract per piece) and the regular FedEx (which are FedEx employees with full benefits and good pay). The Ground division is horrible IMO. The used to have all our US business but lost it. It was one horror story each day. Packages destroyed, drivers refusing to deliver to addresses, left on sidewalks and gone missing ... etc. I think you get the idea. I would imagine most of the FedEx complaints on this thread are concerning the green FedEx ground trucks. These drivers have no motivation to go out of their way to deliver a package and are very likely to drop it and run. Because they are peice work employees and are upset that they don't get all the benefits that the other division gets.

I am going to try and remain non-political, but Americans have a really good postal system. Like somebody else mentioned nobody can get a package coast to coast over night for $5. I realize they are running a deficit right now. But the USPS serves the US very, very well and if all businesses in the US had to switch to sending all the mail by UPS and FedEx they would quickly miss the USPS. If our company was located in the USA, the USPS would easily be getting half of our shipments.


 9:56 pm on Aug 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

I like UPS the most, but not by a lot.
Here is my experience:
USPS doesn't have live tracking. The tracking has 2-3 entries with no updates. Pick up, a scan at a hub, and delevered. I don't like to ship anything too valuable. Mis-delivered packages are common. Insurance and tracking are not that good. UPS and FedEx ground is often cheaper on something that ways several pounds. For under a pound you can't beat the price and they are a strong part in my business model.

FedEx ground is terrible, but does have some strong points. They make it accross country 1 day faster than UPS. If you have a lot of claims they will make you send in a sample for testing. If you pass FedEx will continue to obey your claims. They break a few more packages, but to get resolution on the claim takes longer than UPS. Sometimes FedEx might break a package and it ends up in a black hole. There service via phone is pretty good. Shopping cart integration is very weak. FedEx express is strong. FedEx ground is delivered by subcontractors of FedEx; the driver may actually own the truck. Or a guy might own a few FedEx truck routes and hires his own people to make deliveries. I think that is the weakest link.

UPS is my favorite, but slightly. The web integration is the best. The drivers are better to deal with. As someone mentioned they don't really honor there claims but say their B.S. charter states that there must be 4" of packaging between the contents and the box which is unreasonable. They break less packages then FedEx did. I also got notifications of problems should they arise. They hide behind a third party for claims investigations.


 1:03 am on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

The other nice thing about stamps.com is that the address block is just one square instead of a form for each line, like on usps.com. It is loads faster. Except for international, which is still wiggy. I have figured out that for international on stamps.com, you need to put the city, province, and postal code on the same line with no commas, country spelled out on the next line, then let the software keep the province on the same line as the city. It goes through okay then.

Thanks, good to know. I'm sure I would have struggled with that. I do a lot of int stuff.

As far as UPS goes... If you're doing a ton of stuff and have a dedicated rep... I'm sure the way you're treated is completely different. However, I only use them for my larger orders once in a while, so I'm just one of thousands of people they deal with everyday, and I just don't have any juice.

I agree that I am for the most part totally happy with USPS. When you think about what all your stuff has to go through, it works pretty well. Though now that I said that, I probably jinxed it. But I still get amazed sending something to all these other countries and it actually works. I sent something to the Czech Republic the other day, express... and I'll be damned if it didn't get there in 5 days. But I just happen to see an article today where they were slamming the service and whining about the deficit they have, and how they're going to raise the postage again. I don't know... .46 cents for a good size letter across the whole country. I really don't get what the big deal is. But bagging on the post office has become an American past time. That and Amtrak. What's funny is that the same people that say we don't need it, are the same people complaining about prices. Well, if you don't need it, then why would you care what the prices are?

FYI... I noticed the other day that Staples had the Avery Laser shipping labels on sale, $10 off each box of 200. I bought a bunch and saved a bundle.


 2:55 pm on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

We use UPS for US shipments, which are mostly large items. Every week we get extra charges on the backend. I used to find their invoices difficult to figure out what happened. Now we make an email complaint to our rep for the overcharges (every week!) and get them credited back.

UPS uses some automated measuring system which is often way out of whack. They once decided that I had shipped something 74"x60"x24" in size and gave me a $150 extra charge for it. My rep actually was arguing to me that the system was accurate until I pointed out to him that it was the size of a queen size mattress and wouldn't have fit in the truck. After that there hasn't been any arguing. It is worth noting that I do pay the correct oversize charges when applicable, just not their fantasy oversize charges.


 7:11 pm on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Every week we get extra charges on the backend - UPS - yes, its ridiculous and I don't have the time to spend arguing or keeping track of it - like the taxes on my phone bill

USPS - tracking is not as perfect as UPS, but they are 20% cheaper. I have lost only 2 or 3 packages in the last two years.

DOes anybody have a recommendation for shipping from US to CANADA - UPS is overcharging so much that it doesnt make sense.

I agree - USPS is a great deal - especially if you are dealing with packages 4 lbs and under!



 9:55 pm on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

DOes anybody have a recommendation for shipping from US to CANADA...

USPS is the only way to go for shipments up north. No brokerage fees. If the shipment is valued at $20+, they will charge HST/GST, plus a $5 customs clearance fee, collected COD from the customer (make sure your customers acknowledge this possibility during checkout).

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