Shipping Myth: More Money Does Not Necessarily Mean Faster Service

Many of us grew up with the expression, “You get what you pay for.” This was meant to be a lesson to not be cheap. If you buy inexpensive junk, you couldn’t expect it to last long or perform as well. While this may be true in some areas, it certainly is NOT true when it comes to shipping. I can’t tell you the amount of waste that I have seen from shippers, who pay more, sometimes 10 times more, with the false belief that it will get there faster!

I have a peculiar hobby. I love to look at invoices and ask provocative questions. I was reviewing a FedEx invoice of a client the other day and saw the following:

  • A FedEx 3Day Freight shipment from San Francisco to Los Angeles for $745. I asked the logistics manager why he chose FedEx 3Day Freight for this shipment as was told, “We had to get it there in three days and did not want to take any chances. This customer would have been very angry if the shipment was late.” I checked and found that there were several Less Than Truckload (LTL) carriers that would have delivered the same shipment for $125 with a one day guarantee. He paid 6 times more because he thought that by paying more would be faster service.
  • I was in another client’s office and watched this Corporate Headquarters mailroom processing UPS 2nd Air packages. There were 100 packages in a pile on the floor, all being sent UPS 2nd Day Air and I asked why these packages being sent this way. The answer was that they received a corporate discount on UPS 2nd Day Air of 50% and that they wanted to be sure that all their sales people received this package by the weekend. Just for fun (and with permission from my client), I went through the stack and found 40 packages that were being sent in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT). All 40 packages could have been shipped ground and were guaranteed to be there by the end of the next day. (They were shipping on Wednesday and they were guaranteed to be there by 5:00PM on Thursday). The cost for ground was $8.00 per package. Their cost for UPS 2nd Day Air with their 50%, $11 with a guaranteed delivery of Friday—one day longer. So they paid 30% more and wasted over $320 with the false belief that because it was air, it would be faster.

The bottom line is that more money in shipping does not necessarily mean faster service! What can you do about it? Compare prices and delivery. Don’t assume.


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