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UPS vs. FedEx for USA ecommerce shipping

Which is better, cheaper, more reliable



1:42 am on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

We've used UPS for decades, but feel we should be getting a cheaper rate than they're offering on our fairly large account. We ship mostly 1-10 pound ground packages within the USA

Do you have any thoughts about one being better/cheaper than the other?


2:36 am on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

When comparing Ground services, UPS wins easily. My experiences are with Home Delivery, not FedEx Ground, so YMMV.

The only similarity between Brown and Home Delivery are the four tires. The contracted drivers used by FedEx simply don't have the experience needed, resulting in addresses not found, late deliveries, and mis-delivered packages.

Package damage is pretty much awash; both carriers beat-up their cargo to the same extent.

My observations are 12 months old, so please correct me if they've improved in 2007.


2:27 pm on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Fed Ex Ground is a disaster, in my opinion.

You are correct its the drivers. They are not company/union drivers but contract drivers who are paid per piece. So they dont care if they can find all the addresses in a days work. If they cant find an address easily, or its way out of the way, it will stay on the truck for another day. UPS (and Fed Ex Express) will pay overtime and the dirvers are more than happy to go out of their way to get everything delivered.


3:53 pm on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bwnbwn is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I disagree FedEx has been very reliable for me I have been using them now 4-5 years and am satisfied with their time of delivery and delivery. We ship 99.9% home delivery packages.

Unlike UPS union drivers FedEx home delivery drivers are really in business for themselves. They buy the truck all FedEx does is supply them with packages for delivery. Lost packages are paid for out of their pocket so our lost packages are really low. They only get paid for packages delivered.

I worked for FedEx ground loading trucks and for home deliver as well you are incorrect on them not caring if a package gets delivered or not.

Here is the "Correct" account of a home delivery. A driver has to maintain a certian % of on time delivery to make money. I think the % is 99% of the packages on the trucks have to be delivered on time and correct address for them to make the "bonus". It is up to the FedEx driver to determine if the home is safe to leave the package if they do and it is stolen "they are responsible" for the lost pacckage.

I did start out with UPS but switched due to to many problems and to many passing the buck junk.


4:16 pm on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I don't have any experience as a seller, but I do as a receiver. I think you're likely to get different answers depeding on who you talk to and what part of the country you're in... because I can't stand UPS. They were OK when I lived in the Midwest, but since I've moved to the Southwest they've been nothing but problems and bad deliveries. Just for example: packages left in the road, never even ringing the doorbell when they show up, showing up at 9 o'clock at night, etc. I even had a package left in my driveway that blew away... the driver didn't even bother to come to the door. On the tracking information it said (MET CUST WOM), which means the driver met a woman customer for delivery. Despicible.

To be fair, I'm sure these problems are not the norm... but ever since I've been here I haven't had a single good UPS delivery.


5:09 pm on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

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We ship with both FedEx and UPS.


We find FedEx to be a better deal overall. The discounts we get for Ground, Home Delivery, Express and International are considerably better than the UPS discounts.


As others have posted, they are basically equal other than FedEx tends to respond better.


UPS has a high initial delivery rate (98.5%) vs Fedex Ground (97.7%) When there is a problem with the delivery UPS has a 20% fix rate while FedEx has a 90% fix rate.

Customer Service:

Not sure of your volume, but with us FedEx gives us a dedicated team plus our sales rep. There is no comparison on service, FedEx wins hands down.


UPS is a more advanced with better tools and API's FedEx is a little behind on this one.

Good Luck


5:28 pm on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I ship fedex and would not switch. Their discounts blow UPS out of the water. They have an excellent on time rating, and if they dont meet the stated delivery date the shipping is free. We have been reimbursed and have reimbursed the customer for every package that was not on time.

All damages have been promptly reimbursed.

They offer us free equipment to use and truly go out of their way to see that our business succeeds.


7:03 pm on Sep 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We currently use UPS, but we would mind switching. But last time we looked into this FedEx wanted us to have two pickups, one by ground and one by express.

That was not something that really thrilled us, but what stopped the possible switch dead in it's tracks was that because we don't always have overnight or second day shipment daily, they insisted that rather than a daily pickup account for express, we would have a pickup on demand account. Thus, if we had express packages, we'd have to call for a pickup.

Has anyone else had trouble with this? Has Fedex gone to a single pickup for all your packages shipping via Fedex regardless of whether it is ground, 2nd day or overnight?


2:51 am on Sep 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I recommend using software that has rate shopping capabilities. Shipping is a major profit center for us, and rate shopping each package between cariers has boosted our bottom line tremendously.

As for reliability, I find that FedEx, UPS, and the USPS can all get the job done equally.


3:21 am on Sep 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We also use rate shopping software which picks the best rate. 95% of the time the software picks FedEx. We are 90% residential and 80% go ground. We had used UPS exclusively and brought in FedEx about 1 year ago. Negotiating rates is basically an ongoing process and our UPS salesperson is very slow to respond. FedEx appears to want market share and has beat them everytime. We too were fed the line about FedEx Ground drivers not caring, etc. From our perspective this is not true at all. Damages / claims are about the same. Your basically buying a commodity. Go for the lowest price. We ship around 4,000 packages a month.


6:30 am on Sep 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Whatever happened to DHL/Airborne? I don't even see their yellow trucks around anymore.


1:51 pm on Sep 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

we use USPS for most shipments, FedEx when it MUST be there overnight. USPS is often most econimcal, very reliable and often faster than UPS. UPS also tends to have more lost packages and damaged packages than USPS. FedEx is probably best for reliability and quality of service, but often comes at a price.


8:30 pm on Sep 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

^ ^ Agreed. Neither UPS or FedEx here. You will only see savings on UPS if the package exceeds 7 lbs. As a programmer, the API is simpler to work with too, only requires destination and weight, not city and package dimensions. :-)


11:53 pm on Sep 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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DHL still exists, they are by far the smallest of the three.


2:50 am on Sep 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You will only see savings on UPS if the package exceeds 7 lbs.

That's an odd statement with no basis of reality that I can find. A seven (7) pound package going cross country, from CA zip code 90210 to New York zip code 10002 would be $18.30 for USPS Priority Mail (2-3 days). That same package would be $7.94 (rack rate, no discounts!) via UPS and take four days. If it went to a residential address it would be $13.53 via UPS (again, rack rate). In either case, that is not only a savings, but a VERY substantial savings.

only requires destination and weight, not city and package dimensions

You do realize that, as of about six months ago, USPS now has dimensional weight as well?

To answer the original question you're really not going to see a big discount on ground service with any carrier unless you are doing seriously big business (think amazon, buy.com, overstock, newegg, etc). Once we passed about $4000 in weekly UPS shipments, our Ground service discount jumped up a fair amount but has flattened since then. Air service, however, is much easier to negotiate and the savings can be substantial. At this point, we're only paying slightly more for 2nd Day Air packages than Ground. If you are doing significant volume, you should have a dedicated UPS rep and should meet with him/her several times per year and renegotiate your rates yearly. We always schedule our rate negotiations for October - right before the holiday time.


8:21 am on Sep 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

That's an odd statement with no basis of reality that I can find.

Because you're comparing apples and oranges, Priority and UPS ground are not comparable shipping services, doh. Even though parcel post claims 7-10 working days, it takes nowhere near that.


1:25 am on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Parcel post, for that same package, is $12.88 and shows eight days for delivery between those zips. Apples to what?


1:28 am on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

FedEx Ground over UPS Ground.

And, aren't FedEx routes now franchised? I think you are more apt to find the higher level of service at the franchised level. Their income is based soley on your business.

Although I have clients that continue to use USPS Priority Mail.


2:05 pm on Sep 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm curious - of the people using FedEx or UPS here, how many have flat-rate agreements for two-day or overnight shipping? We are currently speaking with UPS about using them for expedited shipping, and the rates will be flat if bought in bulk (not contingent on location or distance) - ie, buy 1000 2nd-day shipments and they will be $X per pound or per shipment.

Does anyone else have this kind of agreement?


2:57 pm on Sep 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Flat rate shipment is growing all the way. what's ur opinion?


3:48 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The problem with the Fedex ground franchise/route owner is that the owner of the route isn't always the driver. Sometimes one guy can own 3 routes, and pay drivers to run it. The hired help drivers are typically disgruntled when doing pickups of 200 pieces daily. Reflecting back over the years all 3-4 Fedex pickup drivers we had where disgruntled. I have used FedEx for years, but UPS thinks they can save me money so they are crunching numbers.

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