The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Regarding FedEx Smartpost and UPS Surepost

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The Bad

UPS and FedEx will show up at the local Post Office at the most inopportune times and dump as many as 5,000 packages; according to some anecdotes on Amazon, the Postmasters hate Smartpost because of this.  Since what I read were mostly anecdotes, I thought I would verify this with a friend who works for the US Postal Service. I briefly talked to him about this, and asked if what I had heard was true; he verified that it was.  Even the mail carriers hate these packages.  Once UPS or FedEx drops them off at the Post Office, you’ll get no updates on tracking at all; once your package hits the Post Office, it goes into oblivion until it gets to you.

The other really bad part about the service is that sometimes you won’t even know if your item is shipping via UPS Surepost or FedEx Smartpost until it’s too late; you may not even have a choice.

The Ugly

I mentioned that you usually don’t get a choice about how your item will ship, with the option being hidden under the standard shipping.  The ugly part of this is how long it may take for your item to arrive.  For instance, on a recent gift I ordered, standard shipping said it would take 3-5 days for arrival.  I figured that would be before Christmas, so they should get it in time.  AFTER the item had shipped, it was indicated that the package had shipped FedEx Smartpost, and the delivery estimate was now December 27.  That’s not 3-5 days; it’s more like 11!

I find, on average, that it seems to take anywhere from an extra day to as many as 7 to ship via these services, but I’ve heard MUCH worse.  People might never never even get their package — or they’ll receive it days later than expected.

The one good thing here is that this usually is the free shipping option;  the bad news is that it takes FAR longer than it should.  If I pay $9.70 to ship a package to Anna, TX via first class mail, it should get there in 2 days.  This is cheaper than FedEx 2 day shipping, and it’s actually more convenient for me.  I’d rather pay a nominal amount and have a close estimate of when the item will arrive.  With SurePost or Smartpost you get neither, it’s neither sure nor smart.

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About the Author

Joel McLaughlin
Joel is a consultant in the IT field and is located in Columbus, OH. While he loves Linux and tends to use it more than anything else, he will stoop to running closed source if it is the best tool for the job. His techno passions are Linux, Android, netbooks, GPS, podcasting and Amateur Radio.