USPS vs. UPS

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Difference between USPS and UPS

With freight costs usually being the most expensive component of the budget, choosing the right firm takes some careful consideration. And the two companies that often come up for comparison are USPS and UPS. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and those are what we tackle here.

USPS
UPS

Profile

The United States Postal Service or USPS is the U.S. government independent agency responsible for postal services in the country. Formed in 1971, USPS is one of the few agencies authorized by the Constitution of the United States. It is also referred to as the "Post Office", "U.S. Mail", "Postal Service", and the "U.S. Postal Service".

United Parcel Service, Inc. or UPS is a company that primarily provides package delivery services. The company’s headquarters are located in Sandy Springs, Georgia, and in it delivers over 15 million packages every day to more than 6 million customers in over 200 countries all over the world.  

Advantages

One of the main advantages of USPS is cost. For a similarly sized envelope, in 2010 the company would charge just a little over $4 versus almost $15 with UPS. The company is the better option for envelopes weighing 10 lbs. or less.

Delivery times are also shorter with USPS Priority Mail, with 2 to 3 days being the typical wait. In contrast, UPS Ground can take up to 6 days over the same distance. USPS also offers a good selection of packing materials, with several different envelope and box options. You even get free packing tape by asking for a Military Care Kit! Finally, USPS gives you the choice of numerous delivery options, including media mail and USPS Air Mail Parcel Post.

UPS for its part is better suited for packages weighing 10 lbs, or more. The company also offers an excellent tracking system that allows you to find out to within a few days when you will receive your package. Insurance is one other area where UPS excels, and it only costs a nominal amount for even sizable packages. UPS also fares better than UPS in terms of handling lost and/or damaged item claims.

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, USPS only provides tracking information for packages that have already been delivered, and not those that are still in transit. There are additional tracking options offered by the company, although these require an additional fee. USPS also comes with much more expensive insurance costs, and lost and/or damaged item claims may take several weeks.

The main drawback to UPS is the scarcity of outlets in rural areas. This can increase your internal handling times considerably, possibly resulting in delays in sending getting your package out.

Similarities and Differences

USPS

  • The U.S. government independent agency responsible for postal services in the country
  • Short delivery times
  • Offers a good selection of packing materials

UPS

  • Provides package delivery services all over the world
  • Delivers over 15 million packages every day to more than 6 million customers
  • Offers an excellent tracking system
  • Scarcity of outlets in rural areas

Which service is faster and more reliable?
  • USPS
  • UPS
 
 

Discuss It: comments 2

  • Guest
  • AL JUNKE wrote on January 2012

FYI, you have a typo in your article, in the advantages section to interposed usps where you meant UPS had high costs (here the beginning of section).

Should it read like this?

One of the main advantages of USPS is cost. For a similarly sized envelope, in 2010 USPS would charge just a little over $4 versus almost $15 with UPS.

  • Guest
  • DMS wrote on February 2012

posted 2.10.2012 I run a small consulting business. Time after time, I find that the USPS offers better pricing and delivery than UPS on packages under 10 lbs. I shipped yesterday a 8 lb. metal framed back pack wrapped in a heavy duty trash bag 35 miles from my home in Boston to S. NH about 40 miles. I paid $8.05 at the post office PRIORITY shipping and another 85 cents for delivery confiramation with online tracking. USPS $8.85 UPS quoted me $25.65---regular 3 day delivery. That's almost a 3x price differential. I just went online and entered the delivery confirmation number. Saw that the package was delivered about 30 minutes ago - mid afternoon. There is too much bashing of the USPS. We are fortunate to have it. How USPS can save money---we really don't need Saturday delivery.

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