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February 19th, 2004

Comparing Shippers Tracking

A few weeks back, I ordered items from three different companies that were each delivered by a different shipper. One came USPS, one came UPS, and the third came via FedEx. They all arrived promptly enough, but I was able to get a pretty good comparison and each major shipper’s online tracking capabilities. My impressions:

UPS: UPS tracking hasn’t changed much in the last few years, which is to say that it remains pretty accurate and easy to use. I was able to keep a close eye on where the package was throughout its journey. In the past I’ve actually found out online that my package had been delivered before the person at the front desk of my work called to tell me I had a delivery, but this time the “delivered” note on the UPS site came up 20 minutes after the fact. Still, not too shabby.

FedEx: FedEx’s tracking capabilities are similar to UPS’ except they seem to update slightly less frequently. FedEx’s site was updated within a few minutes after they had delivered my package and gave a bit more information than UPS’s did (who signed for it). Again, a good showing.

USPS: The US Postal Service is kind of an interesting case. Their tracking is practically worthless… for days all I saw was a notice that they had “received notice to expect the package for shipping” and only shortly before I received it did I see any sort of change in the tracking information. But the USPS offers one option that the other two shippers don’t (as far as I can tell): e-mail updates. Sure, with UPS and FedEx you can e-mail the current update to someone, but you can’t get an update each time the delivery status changes. Of course, I signed up for this option with the USPS but didn’t receive any e-mail notices until after my package had arrived. Not terribly useful.

FedEx and UPS both offer pretty much everything one could want in package tracking, including an estimated delivery date (though FedEx continues to deliver early if they can while UPS will almost always hold onto your package even if it’s at the local delivery office early). If they were just able to offer e-mail updates (or an RSS feed!) for package tracking, they’d have it all.

Posted in Consumer Commentary

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