Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Tale of Two Shippers

This past Sunday I placed an order for several items with Amazon. Because of what was ordered, Amazon shipped the items from two different warehouses using two different "lowest cost" shipping methods - UPS and the US Postal Service. Both packages left Amazon's warehouses on the same day - June 30th - and both packages left the shippers' facilities on July 1st.

And here's where it gets interesting. Package #1 was shipped from Harrisburg, PA via UPS. It traveled a total of 366 miles and I received it the very next day (July 2nd). It took less than 30 hours! This gives an average delivery speed of 12.2 miles per hour.

Package #2, shipped via USPS, came from Springfield, MA - just 70 miles from where I live - and it still hasn't arrived! From the limited tracking information provided by the US Postal Service, the package left the Springfield, MA facility on July 1st, the same day the UPS package did. But apparently in a cost reducing move due to high gas prices, the US government is now using ponies for their parcel post delivery. Assuming I receive the package on Monday (and that's wishful thinking), this would mean it took 7 days to deliver a package just 70 miles. That's an average speed of less than a half mile an hour! I guess that's why they call it snail mail. From a snail's point of view, I suppose that's actually a very fast speed.

Anyhow, the lesson I take away from this is UPS is a far more efficient shipping method than the US Postal Service. In just one day my package travelled through three different UPS distribution centers and arrived at my doorstep. Coming up on seven days now and my US Postal Service package has passed through just one postal center and it's not certain where the package is or when it will actually arrive. I can only imagine there's some team of ponies slowly trudging their way through southeastern Massachusetts working their way toward the Rhode Island border. Hopefully they avoid the thunderstorms this weekend. Those poor ponies...