questionswhat is the best service to use for shipping a…

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The answer is ... it depends. Lighter stuff and to rural areas, I find USPS tend to be the cheapest, even paying for delivery confirmation and/or insurance. More than a few pounds to residential, FedEx tends to be cheapest. To commercial, it's a tossup between FedEx and UPS. Heavy and bulky, Greyhound.

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Narfcake pretty much nailed it. I would add, however, that with FedEx you get your own account and don't use one of the stores. It's considerably cheaper to ship if you have your own account and manage shipments yourself.

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USPS with delivery confirmation

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Also check out the flat rate boxes at USPS. Depending on the weight and distance as well as size, it may work. If you are sending books check out media mail.

If you print an online label, tracking (delivery confirmation) is free for priority and first class and 19 cents on other options. There is a small discount on the postage for priority and first class if you pay online, too.

Are you thinking of a specific item or in general?

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@narfcake: what he said!

I use USPS, UPS and FEDEX. State, Region it just depends.

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I always use the USPS. I print my labels online and get free delivery confirmation; however, my shipping is rarely more than 6-8 oz. YMMV

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I'm a USPS man.. they're the best for me on all fronts: They're the fastest and the cheapest.. although, my packages don't always come and go in 1 piece... but hey, everybody's got problems right?

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I am biased as a UPS driver to the answer. If you really want to track your package or be able to locate if it fails to reach the destination on time the USPS is not the way to go. They do not scan the item and upload information for each leg of the journey the package takes. Both UPS and Fedex give more detail about where your package is and when it should be there. I know that UPS also has automatic insurance of up to $100 on each package and you can print labels online. You can give a UPS package to any driver or drop it off at a UPS store for no extra charge. As I said though I am biased.

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@asahel01: FWIW, registered/certified mail is strictly scanned at every leg of its journey. And any package with delivery confirmation is scanned during its journey 90+% of the time. I've had it skip a sorting a facility a time or two (same with FedEx and UPS), but most of the time it's a solid offering for .75 extra. It also qualifies as enough proof for eBay or Paypal shipments. USPS gives you an approximate date of arrival which is generally on point. UPS target date can change at any time, so I don't put a ton of stock in either of them honestly. Additionally, time of day with UPS is completely up in the air. Sometimes I get my packages 10am and other times it's 8 oclock at night after my business is closed. USPS is the exact same time every day. USPS allows you to print postage online as well, and in fact, gives you a slight discount in some instances if you do. You have always been able to give the package to your mailman or drop them off at any post office. I don't work for USPS

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@firebirdude it has been a while since I used USPS and then it was a scan where it left and when I checked online it would not have any more info till it reached its city of destination. If you do receive your UPS after 8 p.m. and it is to a business address that has closed for the day you can get the shipping charge refunded since all business address are supposed to be delivered by 5 p.m. If your mail comes the same time everyday you are fortunate. When the economy went south many routes in the delivery business got cut and several areas became ping pong balls between those that still had set routes. Each carrier chose the areas to do this independently so while your mail in one place may not have changed your Fedex may have. Or your Fedex remains the same, but the mail and UPS are unpredictable. Some never noticed and others never know when anything will show up during the day. The drivers hate this as much as the customers.

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@asahel01: Many of us regularly receive packages with tracking numbers via USPS because woot uses Smartpost for so many of its packages, or because we trade t-shirts via teetrade or the Trading thread on shirt.woot; they definitely scan packages at every stop - at least most of the time, which is similar to my experience with UPS (i.e., both services occasionally skip a step or make a mistake). So far this year, my experiences with USPS have been stellar, while UPS dropped a package off at the wrong address and scanned it as delivered; I never located it. (I was home at the time UPS claimed it was delivered, so I know it wasn't delivered to my address). Woot made it right for me, although I would have preferred to receive my puppy-hamster tunnels... I mean, toddler-hamster tunnels...

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@neuropsychosocial: Smartpost is shipped by FedEx or UPS and scanned by them until they deliver it to your local post office and then the postal employee does the last part of the journey. The daily average volume of Postal, UPS, and FedEx is close to 587,000,000 items to be delivered to a specified address. The Post office has the most (they can keep the junk mail) with over 560 million pieces, the UPS with over 15 million and FedEx with over 9 million. If only 1% of all deliveries never made it that would be 587,000 daily lost due to damage, misdelivery, or a black hole. Yes UPS may have sent your tax documents on the wrong trailer and they are in the wrong state. Sure FedEx delivered the mortgage documents a month later. Yes some postal employees take the mail home and hide it in their closet instead of delivering it all. On the other hand it is amazing how much is delivered by all carriers each day on time and intact each day considering the numbers.