Pros: Good service, insurance, reliable.
Cons: Not always the best deal for your money.
Over the years I have both sent and received a multitude of packages through UPS Ground and thus far have rarely had any problems with their service. Although I have been on the receiving end of most of these packages, I will cover both ends of their service.
Receiving: Most packages that have been delivered to me have been delivered on schedule, or at least within one day of the expected delivery date. UPS includes tracking numbers with their service, so I could easily go to their website and check on the status of my delivery. It makes it nice when I can look and see exactly where my package is, and when it is expected to arrive.
I have had a few packages that did not arrive on the day I was expecting them. In one instance, the package was mistakenly delivered to my neighbor. In 1 instance, the package arrived the following day. In one instance the sender hadn't really sent the package when they had told me. In the other instance, they were waiting for the billing information to go through from the company I had ordered from. This isn't bad considering the number of packages that are delivered to my residence.
The deliveryman has always been friendly and courteous. Actually, we have two different men here, and both are pleasant to talk to. They always offer to carry the larger/heavier packages inside for me as well. I appreciate that since my back injury causes me difficulties with items like this.
Usually the packages arrive in good condition. There was one occasion however, when my package was damaged in shipment because of the way it was packaged. Although the damage was not severe, and did not harm the contents of the package, it is nice to know that UPS provides up to $100 of insurance included in their shipping costs, just in case this item had been damaged. Additional insurance is also available for a fee.
Shipping: Although I live in a small town, UPS does have a presence here. They have a pickup area nearby. These are available in many areas where the actual UPS center is not located in the area. These are run by employees, and not operated by UPS employees, so the service level is somewhat different. Up until recently, these were the only options I had used to ship my packages using UPS Ground.
Those who ran this pickup area seemed to be well trained by UPS as to the proper procedures to follow when accepting my packages. I was asked several questions concerning my package destination, and preferred delivery date. My package was weighed and measured. I was then charged a fee according to weight and package dimensions. The shipping process went smoothly, and the package arrived at it's intended location.
I recently decided to check out the actual UPS Shipping and Receiving Center in a town about 60 miles from me because I was going to be in the area on some other business. It was quite interesting to note the differences between the process in the corner of the bakery, to the UPS Shipping and Receiving Center.
First, I entered the building with my package. The contents of the package were just over 2 pounds, and were packed in a small box. I was greeted immediately, although the woman at the counter was busy with one customer and had another customer busy at a computer station filling out some paperwork.
I was directed to the counter where the man was finishing up with the computer, and told that she would be right with me. She finished up with the customer ahead of me and came to get me started on the customer data entry station. She asked me several questions and typed in the information according to my answers.
She told me that I could set up a user account which contained my shipping information so I would not need to type this in every time, or I could simply send the package as a guest. I needed to fill in all of the shipping information and package contents, which were then printed onto a label. I was then directed back to the main counter.
The total charge for this package, including all taxes and fees was $6.05 for UPS Ground. There was a tracking number provided on the receipt, and the package was expected to arrive in 3 days. Again, I like being able to track my packages so easily. With this number, both parties can determine the location and delivery status of the package.
Cost: The cost to have a package shipped by UPS Ground is somewhat more expensive than some of the other options available. This varies however, by destination, value, contents, weight and package dimensions. More information follows.
Other Services Available:
In addition to the services already mentioned, UPS also provides more services, depending on your needs. Although I chose to drop my packages off at the facility, they also have the option of picking up your packages. You can have it set up so the driver will stop at your location each day to pick up any packages you may want to send. This option is great for those who send packages out on a daily basis, but unnecessary for those of us who send them out sporadically. For us, it is possible to schedule a pickup either online or by telephone. Since I have never used this service, I can't tell you too much about it. Their website does tell you though, that if you do not have an automatic daily pickup account, pickup fees for air services may apply.
Packaging supplies and services are also available from UPS. Once again, I haven't used this service, but I did notice that it was available. When preparing your package for shipping, UPS provides the following guidelines:
Use a rigid box with flaps intact
Remove any labels, hazardous materials indicators, and other shipment markings from the box
Wrap all items separately
Use adequate cushioning material
Use strong tape designed for shipping
Do not use string or paper over-wrap
Use a single address label that has clear, complete delivery and return information
Place a duplicate address label inside the package
Weight and Size Limits for Packages:
UPS does have specific weight and size limits for the packages, although these are reasonable limits and should generally not be a problem for most shippers. Packages can be up to 150 lbs., up to 165 inches in length and girth (distance around) combined, and up to 108 inches long. Any package that weigh more than 70 lbs. requires a special heavy-package label. Oversize packages and packages with a large size-to-weight ratio require special pricing and dimensional weight calculations. If your package exceeds these limits, it will be subject to an "Over Maximum Limits" charge.
So, what are the cost differences between UPS Ground and other options? These prices were taken from the various websites and/or promotional materials. Keep in mind that the cost comparison given is for specific package sizes and weights. The destination used for all packages was the same, to avoid any differences in cost due to location differences. These prices assume that I have packaged the item myself, and drop it off at any appropriate drop off location. These prices do not include any taxes, which may vary depending on your area. All packages used in these comparisons are of the same size, 8" x 8" x 5", but of varying weights.
Package Weight = 1 Pounds
UPS Ground $4.85
FedEx Ground $3.45
USPS Parcel Post $2.96
Package Weight = 3 Pounds
UPS Ground $5.10
FedEx Ground $3.64
USPS Parcel Post $4.08
Package Weight = 5 Pounds
UPS Ground $5.50
FedEx Ground $3.92
USPS Parcel Post $4.45
Package Weight = 10 Pounds
UPS Ground $6.50
FedEx Ground $4.65
USPS Parcel Post $5.63
Package Weight = 15 Pounds
UPS Ground $7.50
FedEx Ground $5.35
USPS Parcel Post $6.27
Package Weight = 25 Pounds
UPS Ground $9.20
FedEx Ground $6.58
USPS Parcel Post $7.27
Package Weight = 50 Pounds
UPS Ground $13.70
FedEx Ground $9.80
USPS Parcel Post $10.39
My Final Recommendations:
UPS Ground is in many cases not the best option. FedEx Ground and USPS Parcel Post may both be cheaper routes, depending on the value of the item being shipped. In the above examples, the rates for FedEx Ground and USPS Parcel Post are somewhat less expensive, especially for smaller packages. Remember though, that neither FedEx Ground nor USPS Parcel Post include insurance in the listed prices, unlike UPS Ground.
Additionally, the USPS Parcel Post expects to be delivered in 2 days rather than the 3 days provided by UPS Ground. FedEx Ground services boasts 1 day delivery time as opposed to the 2 and 3 day delivery times of the others.
Although I have never had any problems while using UPS Ground, I would have to say that USPS Parcel Post is the better choice in many cases. In all cases, I would suggest going to the appropriate websites and doing a rate check with each to determine which service has the best rate for your needs.
I will soon be posting my reviews on the other two services mentioned in this review. You can get more information from these other reviews, coming soon.