We knew the closing times of all local post offices (and they knew us as the annoying people who came in when they wanted to leave) for the surrounding 5 towns, and the most efficient way to drive to get there. But being in Southeastern Connecticut (NYC suburb) and driving around rush hour still meant that there was much aggravation. After pulling our hair out with rushing to the post office every other day for a few months, we were happy to switch to FedEx. We used FedEx for many months until discovering Stamps.com. The next post will be about Stamps.com. This one is about FedEx.
Time for processing:It involved signing into our FedEx account. For each order, I filled out the Contact Name, Address (part 1), Address (part 2), City, State, Zip, phone number, and email address. Each step would involve a separate copy and paste. Then I had to enter the weight of shipment, dimensions — length, width, and height, select the date mailed, select home delivery, select pick up type, select ground shipping, select waiving the signature confirmation, etc. Then the next page would confirm the address. Once I check everything, I would finally get the label for printing. Each page reload, checkbox, and copy paste field took time and introduced possible glitches and mistakes. It took about 10 minutes to pack and ship each order.
Time for shipping:Because most people selected ground shipping, it took 5 days to reach the West Coast. Some people didn't like having to wait a week to receive their package. FedEx Home Delivery didn't deliver on Monday, but it did deliver on Saturdays.
Price:Shipments to the East coast cost less than the West coast shipments, so we had to take an average. Each shipment cost between $4-7. If we didn't ship enough packages, FedEx has an extra charge. Home delivery costs extra — FedEx prefers to deliver to businesses. Their address checker software determines whether an address is residential or not. Rural address like many places in the Midwest would cost an extra $4. When we were using FedEx (late 2007), gas prices were extremely high, so they had a gas surcharge, which varied from place to place. We negotiated with out nice FedEx sales representative for lower ground rates, but they don't give much discount on that. They do give better discounts on Express shipping. Our packages were usually less than a pound, but we had to pay for the minimum one pound charge. Big packages would be worth the trouble because FedEx rates for items weighing a few pounds or more is cheaper than the USPS.
Bookkeeping:Each package was FedEx.com followed by the shipment number, and it would show up on our credit card in about 2-3 weeks. When I import the charges into QuickBooks, each charge would require me to either shorten the name to FedEx.com or create a new vendor account. It was a pain.
Service:The FedEx guy was nice. He came by at 11am every day for the pick up. It's been two years, and it's still the same guy who delivers our ground packages. Ground didn't pick up on Saturdays though. Once it left us, the delivery time was always very prompt as promised and easily trackable. And if the customer changed locations, the package would be redirected before arrival. Unfortunately, if they were not there to sign for it, the delivery may be held up by a few days until they were able to receive it.
Environmental Considerations:FedEx requires a large truck with low gas mileage driving around and parking (leaving the engine running) for about 30 seconds to a minute at each location. If it didn't have to drive there in the first place or leave the truck to walk to your porch, then it would be more efficient.
We were pretty happy with being able to ship without having to drive somewhere and waiting in line. But FedEx did have some drawbacks.