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News You Can Use When Shipping Christmas Packages

Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 14:38 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

PackageBefore you send off your holiday gift packages to parts near and far, take a few minutes to check out this story in Popular Mechanics about a little experiment they conducted. In an effort to see in what condition the three major U.S. carriers (FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service) would deliver a parcel, the author and his cohorts arranged to shipped a sensor-equipped package around the country using different carriers and different services each time, 12 trips in all (24 actually, since each “trip” started at location A, was delivered to location B, and then was forwarded to location C). They they analyzed the physical environment—position changes, g-forces, and temperatures—to which the package was subjected.

After crunching the data and averaging the number of spikes recorded by each carrier on each trip, we found that the USPS has the gentlest touch, with a per-trip average of 0.5 acceleration spikes over 6 g’s. FedEx and UPS logged an average of three and two big drops per trip, respectively (see graph, next page).

It looks to me like UPS is overall the best bet. Although this exercise is nothing close to a statistically significant study, it’s still worth reading the whole thing to get the rest of the low-down. Don’t ignore the comments, which contain some potentially useful reader suggestions and interesting anecdotes. (One commenter strongly advises against marking any package “fragile,” as his experience shows such markings actually increase the likelihood that the package will be damaged.)

(Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds.)

Categories: business & economics
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