Maybe so, but I trust USPS far more for a safe delivery.
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I, too, have NEVER had a problem shipping USPS. Ever - but I have heard horror stories from others about ALL shippers. With respect to cost, though, it varies. I almost always find USPS Priority Mail cheaper - except when comparing to UPS or FedEx Ground. Where I live, Bay Area (CA), I will not have anything shipped to me via UPS unless I absolutely cannot avoid doing so. 2 of 5 times they misdeliver or just bang the living snot out of the package. I've declined to order a few times from businesses that say UPS only because of this.
USPS also has a new "flat rate" Priority Mail box that is only $7.70 irrespective of weight. If you print your label online from the USPS web site, the delivery confirmation is free.
I use USPS almost exclusively to ship hundreds of packages a month and they've only lost two the past two years. Pretty good in my book!
My latest USPS story-
An $800 money order sent by priority mail with delivery confirmation. Mailed on Monday from Nebraska to Virginia. When it did not arrive by Thursday I went to the Post Office and they said:
"Well, its not a guaranteed service. Our tracking shows it left here on Monday".
I could have told them that. They then said if it is not there by next Monday (8 days later) they would trace it for me.
It arrived on Saturday after 6 days (2-3 day service my butt). As an experiment I shipped the same person a small package by FedEx ground that got there in 3 days and was tracked all the way. Difference price 97 cents.
Just my 97 cents worth with the USPS.
I bought insurance through USPS on ten 78 rpm German picture disks and other collectable 78's. A few of the records were broken in shipping and they paid the claim without any animosity at MY established value in two weeks. I've never had a piece of mail lost or undelivered. The Postal Service handles billions and billions of pieces of mail every year with very few complaints. We enjoy the most efficient, lowest cost and quickest most reliable service on the planet bar none. In this case you do, in fact, get what you pay for. BTW, those $7.70 boxes will go all the way to Iraq. There are still places in this country without electricity and phone service. Name me one place where the mail doesn't go for a flat rate. The companies that ship cheaper won't do this because they are not compelled to by law while the Postal Service is. Making points is tiring. Just let me say that I'm so very disappointed in the lack of knowledge by so many educated people in our society about the HOW and WHY our system is set up the way it is. Equality began in this country through the example set forth by the US Postal Service. Try comparing shipping records via all methods. Media Mail is subsidized for the benefit of libraries, schools and charitable publishing companies. It's the concept of equality that gives us audiophiles the right to ship our media (vinyl, CD's, books, magazines and tapes) at a subsidized rate too. Does UPS or FEDEX deliver all our governments mail for free? Schools in the country are abysmal as proven by the thread head.
I have had FedEx pay a claim within 2 weeks and UPS actually pay one with in a month. As long as you jumg through their hoops it my experience that you can recover your loss. Now granted they were both less than $300 but they did pay relatively promptly.
For shipping small packages with low value I use USPS. And I do agree with Lugnut for flat mail anywhere in the country and overseas you will not get a better deal.
If you are shipping something that is very light, the USPS is a good buy. Above that FedEx Ground is the clear best buy.
Entrope, I have never had FedEx or UPS pay in shorter than two months, after initially refusing payment for improper packing. They do pay with one exception. My most recent claim was for $7500.
The FedEx payment at two weeks stunned me also. It was for $225 for a plate amp I shipped. Nonetheless the check came and cleared with no denial or additional questions.
Perhaps that size claim was easier to pay than deny or a rep was not briefed yet on "no", "nyet", "nein", etc.
I understand UPS claim reps are recruited from HMO's.
Entrope - I have zero experience shipping equipment but lots of experience shipping documents. UPS 2nd or 3rd day service to a large or medium size city will very often arrive a day earlier than the service requested, sort of a "hidden" discount. Tracking is included in the price (I'm not sure about Priority Mail). It's a good choice for payment, if time is a concern, and may be cost effctive for large dollar transactions. I've had the same experience you did with the timeliness (or lack thereof) of Priority Mail. Express Mail is much better and it is delivered on Saturday for no extra charge, but the rates are not much less than USP or FedEX.
Lugnut - A couple of years ago I read that junk mail is a significant source of revenue for the USPS, supporting the subsidies you refer to. Makes you wonder what would happen to postal rates if junk mail were subjected to a law similar to the "Do not call" law for telemarketers, which I am sure some people with cluttered mailboxes would support. Oh, I agree that Media Mail is a great deal.
While junk mail is a significant revenue source it is not a source of profit. The history of the Postal Service is an incredible story. Some of the most interesting aspects occured in the late 60's and early 70's when Congress (proving that they are and can be bought) peeled off the most profitable services and handed them over to private enterprise. That's the only reason UPS and Fedex, etc. exist today. The Postal Service is today a quasi-private mix of government/private enterprise. What they provide to society is much more important than most citizens realize. Important enough that the founding fathers ensured it be created as we knew it before the 60's. IMO, the Postal Service is government at its finest. I choose to use it as much as possible because of its reliability and also to add to its profitability so that GWB and the 535 boneheads that control this country don't also wish to turn it over to private enterprise. Would anybody be foolish enough to believe UPS or Fedex would do it as well? Proper functioning of society demands reliable delivery of important documents and most people take for granted what is dropped into their mailbox every day. Sorry for the rant but I feel strongly about this issue along with a number of other issues that can have negative consequences for all of us. Don't get me started on schools. I'd melt down. LOL
Lugnut, I don't dispute your view that the postal service in the US is valuable, but your history is a bit in error. The US post office did not really get into action until the early 1800s and then was basically private enterprise with payment from the government. I discovered all of this when I was researching how much postage was in the past.