When you live on a farm and you’re in building mode as we are, you buy a lot of stuff and have it delivered. Quite without intending to, we have become connoisseurs of delivery services.
It’s important when shipping essential supplies and tools that both the shipper and the customer be able to track the location of the package to know where it is and when it’s likely to arrive. For reasons I can respect if not fully understand, the US Postal Service has opted not to provide that service at a reasonable price, so it comes down to a choice of one of two providers, UPS or Federal Express.
We use Amazon Prime, which means we receive a LOT of deliveries by UPS 2nd Day. For security reasons, we normally keep the gate to our farm closed. When it’s open both companies drive up the driveway to the barn and deliver packages. It’s when the gate is closed (its normal state) that the difference between UPS and FedEx becomes most apparent.
When UPS finds our gate closed, the driver, with whom we’re on a first name basis, places the package in a safe location we’ve agreed on and calls me from his cell phone to tell me it’s there. I’m generally eager to use whatever it is, so I run down quickly and pick it up, but if I’m not able to spring free, I know my package will be safe, and so does the driver. This is a procedure UPS and I worked out effortlessly within about three weeks after we began living here.
FedEx can’t seem to manage that. Instead of getting my package, I get an insipid little note stuck to my gate telling me the driver was here and COULD have delivered my package, but because the gate was closed, I’ll have to wait until the next delivery. Or the next. We never know when FedEx will come back; all we can do is hope.
Here’s an example that illustrates the difference between the two services. Within days of each other, I ordered a new battery for my computer from Dell and a pair of wire rope cutters from Amazon. Dell used FedEx; Amazon (as they always do) used UPS. The battery was scheduled to arrive Thursday of last week; the cutters were scheduled to arrive today.
On Thursday, we kept the gate open all day, knowing as we did that our delivery from FedEx depended on an open gate. The battery never came. On Friday we had to be away, so the gate was closed. On Friday, we didn’t get our battery, but we did get an insipid little note on the gate. Yesterday we left the gate open all day so FedEx would finally bring us the battery. No delivery. I can’t tell you why; I just know the gate was open all day and the package never came. Meanwhile, UPS brought the cutters yesterday, a day early.
My cutters work great, by the way, producing a nice smooth cut on 1/8″ aircraft cable so I can thread it through the trellis posts for our orchard. Maybe someday I’ll be able to tell you the battery works great too. Right now, though, I’m racing to finish this post before my aged battery gives up the ghost.
Receiving as many packages as we do requires that you make a few returns too. In our small town of Tallassee, there’s a sign store that also doubles as a UPS shipping location, so we can drop off UPS packages there anytime during business hours. No such service for FedEx. There’s a FedEx drop box in Tallassee that accommodates tiny packages, but if we need to return a FedEx box, we have to drive 30 minutes to Wetumpka to do it.
During the short time we’ve lived at Longleaf Breeze we’ve received more than 100 packages from UPS and perhaps 10 from FedEx. Twice a FedEx package has failed to arrive on the day promised, so twice I’ve called FedEx Customer Service to figure out what went wrong. On neither occasion did anyone at FedEx offer any apology or explanation, only a promise to bring the package on the next delivery. I honestly don’t know whether the Customer Service staff at UPS are jewels or jerks, BECAUSE I’VE NEVER HAD TO CALL THEM. That’s right; our success rate on more than a 100 packages delivered by UPS is 100%. Our success rate on about 10 packages delivered by FedEx is 80%.
I honestly don’t know what either of these two companies charges the companies that use it to ship packages. The rates those companies charge me seem more or less comparable, but I assume FedEx offers some sweetheart deal to shippers to get their business. FedEx can’t be making the kind of money UPS makes, though, because it costs FedEx so much more to give lousy service than it costs UPS to do it right the first time. I can’t tell you I never order items from companies that ship via FedEx, but I can tell you that I pay attention to which one they use. If I have a choice, I’ll go with the one that uses UPS.