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November 12, 2008


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My problem with the postal offices in my area (NYC) is that they are all jam packed and the workers are S L O W... The line inches and you could be there for an hour with just a few people in front of you, now that the holiday season is coming up good luck. This is worse if you have an EBAYER on the line with a 20-30 boxes.

I've always had good luck when shipping with the post office, they are so much cheaper than UPS or fedex. But the lines can be unbearable, I've had to wait an hour or more at times. Add to that the poor customer service, good thing they're cheap or no one would use them.

I forget what the weight is, but there is a certain weight where UPS is cheaper than USPS. I'm not sure about Fed Ex. Don't quote me on this, but I think it was 8 pounds. I used to work at Office Depot, which has UPS inside it, and we all had to be UPS certified for the Christmas season.

I can tell wrt International Service that USPS is the best option in terms of value for money. They have tie-ups with the national carriers in each country and are most effective wrt cost & service, even if not the fastest.

True story - Sent a international package of Documents to a friend in UK via UPS. They lost it and took 10 days to "confirm" that they lost it. Their plea is that the shipping label might have fallen off - this is when their guys put it on the package!!!

BTW, did you know that even DHL & UPS use USPS for on-forwarding to remote areas (a.k.a. places they are not interested in servicng...).

I once sold something on eBay to a buyer in Sweden. I shipped on Thursday and the item was received on Monday (!)

What's weird is that the buyer's payment took something like five weeks to arrive. The problem was obvious when I received it: the handwriting on the envelope was extremely unusual by American standards, and very difficult to discern if you (like a U.S. postal worker) did not know its origin and destination. The payment was sent promptly but must have passed by a lot of eyeballs before someone figured out how to pass it on.

The postal service is well know for not deliveing their next day service packages on time. They also have no in route tracking of packages and can not issue refunds online or over the phone. Everything must be handled in person at a post office.

The USPS rocks!!! I sell items weekly on E-Bay, print my shipping labels at home (using PayPal) and drop the packages off at the post waiting in line, just walk in and hand them to any worker, or leave them on the post office counter. Never a problem, and I have been doing this for over 2 years.

I have always had good luck with the USPS since they went head-to-head with commercial shippers. The trick on lines is to go to the smaller ones, go at different hours, and don't go to those which are slow (I venture to suggest these might be the urban ones which are trying to serve a larger population or one where there are more people not working during 9-5 (day shift) so that you have a larger number of folks who are there throughout the day rather than just making long lines at lunchtime and after 5). To make it even better, learn how to do a lot of self-service (weighing, stamping, dropping off, on-line notices of changes/stop), mailing early when you know you will have a lot of packages, reducing the need for packages (send gift cards or checks or something from an online store direct), buying stamps somewhere else or using a postage meter at work (if your office allows this - ours did, with reimbursement). There are also a lot of transactions you can do at your own mailbox with your own postal worker. Establish a relationship with him/her (holidays are coming up - give them a tip and there is the beginning of a personal recognition that you are different from the rest of the folks on your route, perhaps) and find out what you can do at your own mailbox. We used to be able to leave money for stamps. It looks like you could also leave money for mailing packages, but I am not sure how that works. Smile at the postal workers you do have to work with - particularly the slow ones. Think anyone else is? Everyone deserves consideration when doing a hard job, not more gripes. It's amazing how far politeness and consideration can carry you.

I have to ship to Australia a couple of times a year. I now go USPS. There are about 30 dollars cheaper and get there just as fast. I did try UPS to get things delivered either rush or two day and it got there two weeks later. When I asked about it they told me that once it leaves the country they have no control. So basically I was paying $$$$$ to ship it from where I live, 30 miles outside of Los Angeles to Los Angeles.

The reason the postal service is cheaper is because it's subsidized. It can afford to lose money. FedEx, UPS, etc all have to make money and deliver a certain rate of return to their shareholders.

Brad is wrong when he says the USPS is subsidized. It receives all of its monies only from sales of stamps. It is true that Congress gives them money each year, but that is to offset the cost of free mailing privileges for the blind and for the cost of all of those newsletters that we get from our congressional representatives. And, even then, Congress does not pay the USPS enough to cover the actual cost to the USPS. You and I make up that shortage by paying more than we should have to pay for our postage. Hidden tax, anyone???

My experience with USPS is that they have had problems delivering to my office building - despite regular deliveries of US mail to the same address. In addition, "next day" does not actually mean "next day", and there's no way to track it, and too bad for you if you paid the extra money for it to arrive the next day.

While USPS is certainly cheaper for your standard overnight 8 oz, 9x12 cardboard envelope, I've noticed two significant deficiencies in their service compared to UPS and FedEx.

1. Living in a very rural area, FedEx is the only true overnight service. Note the "Guaranteed overnight delivery to most locations or your money back" on the USPS website. If I ship using Express Mail on Monday, it gets there Wednesday. FedEx will get it there on Tuesday.

2. The online tracking with FedEx and UPS is vastly superior to USPS. FedEx and UPS will give you a planned arrival date and will tell you were your package is at any given time, whereas UPS will only tell you that yes, your package has arrived, or no, it hasn't. This is only really important for obsessive compulsives like me, but when you're shipping really important documents, better tracking=higher confidence.

That said, sometimes I'm willing to accept the deficiencies in order to get the lower price. Maybe even more often than not. But to say the products are equal just isn't true.

Not all countries have such an efficient Postal Services. I use the Malaysian one quite a bit (it was privatised some time ago, so some local semi bozos manage it now).

For time sensitive deliveries, I never use them. They also run a so called "next day" service, but the cost is so expensive when you consider that you have to go to the Post Office, line up, fill up forms etc and then pay.

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