What's the difference between UPS and FedEx?

In general, deliveries to my home (online purchses etc.) seem to be 80% UPS, 20% FedEx.

Are they direct competitors or do they each have their niche? Does one offer services that the other doesn’t? If a business was shipping large quantities from a warehouse, would there be a reason to choose one over the other based on package size, type or product being shipped or is it just the personal preference of the owner?

And also how does DHL fit into the mix?

Originally, FedEx specialized in express deliveries via their extensive airline network, while UPS specialized in delivering boxes via trucks.

This changed as UPS started developing their own airline operations in the 1990s, and FedEx acquired RPS to create their FedEx Ground division.

So now they both offer express deliveries, cheaper ground transport, freight services, and logistics to some extent.

But only FedEx has Kinko’s.

Although UPS a few years ago bought up the “Mailboxes, etc.” franchise chain. They don’t offer exactly the same services as Kinko’s, but there’s a lot of overlap.

I’ve worked for both, as inside sales rep, field sales rep, manager of sales reps, and at least one other position I shan’t specify. UPS is overall bigger than FedEx, but FedEx’s overnight business is bigger. Their base prices are pretty much identical, as the services they provide are so similar that both are reluctant to raise their prices much over the other. Also the sales reps on each side are … strongly encouraged to know the details of what the other company is doing.

UPS bought Mailboxes Etc. first, as I recall; FedEx bought Kinko’s in response, and the latter is now branded FedEx Office, just as MB is now the UPS Store.

I won’t say which company I think more highly of. I will say that FedEx is very important to the economic health of my home town. Everyone in Memphis knows someone who’s worked there in some capacity at least once.

Why not?

Because that would imply certain things, wouldn’t it?

I mean, I’ve already given Rushgeekgirl too many clues to my real name. :wink:

One thing I noticed if you’re buying a “questionable product,” like a cell phone zapper (a device that will noise out a cell phone next to you), that are illegal in the USA but legal elsewhere, you almost always see DHL as the only option for deliver, as UPS, FedEx and USPS won’t touch such things

Simple. One has white trucks the other brown.

IME DHL does the cross-country shipping, then the hand it off to USPS (i.e. the one that has rumors of going under) for delivery to my door.

UPS seems more willing to ship things like firearms or ammo with less hassle than FedEx or USPS.

FedEx has the coolest logo.

I would guess that has more to do with the location of the seller than the legality of what’s being shipped. DHL is primarily an international shipper where UPS and FedEx are primarily domestic US shippers. In fact, as of 2008, all DHL domestic US packages fly on UPS planes. This, after DHL got their asses handed to them trying to compete with UPS and FedEx on domestic US service for five years. DHL still does the ground delivery, but all their domestic shit flys UPS these days.

If I have a container of cell phone jammers in Sheboygan, WI, I think UPS and FedEx will both gladly accept my shipping business. Both have restrictions about what they are willing to ship, but to my knowledge, neither have much in the way of enforcement. I have no first hand, nor any hand knowledge of anyone ever receiving a package delivered by UPS or FedEx that had been opened for inspection.

So, unless you have some cite that UPS and FedEx hold some moral high ground to DHL in the legality or morality of what they may ship, I think you’re absolutely mistaken. Correlation does not imply causation.

I once had to take a driving test at a UPS store. I still don’t understand why. Maybe UPS offers driving tests and FedEx doesn’t.

It’s not a matter of us inspecting the package; we’re not going to do that unless it breaks open. But let’s say you are doing your business online and want to integrate UPS or FedEx into your point-of-sale system. This is (probably) going to involve a sales rep at some point: a field sales representative (who’ll be coming out to your site) if you’re doing over $200 a day in business, or an inside sales rep (who deals with you over the phone) if you’re doing less than that. In either case they’re going to be asking what sort of things you’re shipping, and if you reply that it’s something illegal, the rep may well decline to assist so F/U can avoid liability.

Here’s one very annoying practice that FedEx has that UPS does not:
A major line of separation between their Ground (Federal Express Ground) and Air (Federal Express Express) services.
One truck & driver won’t pick up the other, there’s different forms to fill out, the labeling is different. If I call for a Ground pickup, they won’t come until the next day while Express pickups happen the same day I request it.

Right. And if I were such a blithering idiot to admit that my business involved trading illegal goods, I would well and truly deserve worse than a refusal of my shipping business.

The implication was that UPS and FedEx are above such things while DHL are a bunch of dirty ne’er do wells who have no qualms with dealing in criminal trade. That whas what I was objecting to. I wasn’t trying to say that UPS and FedEx are a bunch of crooks, or need to do more to enforce the restrictions on the content of their cargo. I was saying that it’s factually wrong and irresponsible to imply that DHL is some dirty whore of the shipping industry who will look the other way for a few bucks.

The truth is, if you’re not such a blithering idiot so as to tell the sales rep of any company that you’re willfully breaking the law, any of them will gladly book your business without too many questions.

That’s a remnant of the fact that FedEx Ground was once its own company (RPS). The services are discrete, and I can’t find much fault with them for that. It’s just what it is. If you think of them as seperate companies, which you should, perhaps your annoyance level will go down a bit.

Some differences I’ve noticed (YMMV):

UPS is union. FedEx is not.

FedEx ground is a franchise. UPS is corporate.

UPS charges for all labels made; unused labels must be voided on their ship manager to escape the charge. Charges start when the label is made. FedEx doesn’t charge for labels, and doesn’t bill you for the shipment until it is complete.

UPS usually takes 1-2 days longer to deliver a package than FedEx does, IME.

My UPS guy is way hotter than my FedEx guy. :smiley:

There are just such blithering idiots. Thankfully they tend to be more likely to be inside sales customers than field sales customers, as some of them are also given to threatening violence.

Oh, I don’t object to what you just wrote. And I’m quite certain both UPS and FedEx carry goods the law prohibits from time to time; it’s unavoidable given that we don’t inspect packages the vast, vast majority of the time. (How could we?) But if you were running any sort of business with automated ordering and wanted technical assistance and a bulk rate, neither UPS, FedEx, nor DHL is going to help you if you’re shipping illegal merchandise.

Somebody upthread mentioned union versus non-union, and that’s both true and susprisingly important. Working for FedEx I had prospects, particularly up north, whom I could not close no matter how charming I was or how deep I cut my prices, because they would not choose a non-union ship over a union ship out of principle. Working for UPS I sometimes had to fight the perception that UPS, being unionized, was always going to be more expensive and less efficient that Fed.