Without a doubt - FedEx or even USPS for smaller items! I just had to run out to get last minute business cards printed locally because UPS doesn't consider delivery on Saturdays standard (I wasn't aware of this when selecting my shipping options) - so the 2nd day air package that shipped on a Thursday didn't arrive until Monday.
Aside from that - I take issue with their attempt to manipulate other carriers by lobbying for changes in the laws that regulate air shipments - visit http://brownbailout.com to get more info.
I definitely prefer Fedex for receiving packages. With FedEx I can sign a signature release form and all but the highest level of signature requirement packages will be delivered and left. I have tried in vain for several years to get UPS to do the same thing. I always end up having to go to the station to pick up anything from UPS that needs a signature.
I ship my orders via Priority Mail in those flat rate boxes. Works quite well.
When Diane has something shipped she requests UPS. We know it's going to be here. Bert just leaves the packages on the porch, or if he knows we're away, he leaves them in our truck in the driveway.
When something's shipped FedEX, it goes through private companies and we never know which franchise is going to deliver it. (Around here, the delivery guys are not FedEX employees. They work for private delivery companies with FedEX trucks.) If it comes out of Albany, NY, the drivers are nasty and they can't find their way around Vermont with a Seeing Eye Dog.
FedEx is much better. I was a big UPS supporter for many years but their service and quality of care with deliveries has diminished over the years. However, with rush orders within Florida, I sometimes use UPS because they can get regular Ground packages delivered in 1-Day. But FedEx is my #1 choice.
USPS flat rate is always my first choice. Second is UPS. with Fedex I've received damaged boxes of electronic equipment several times. Once I shipped a PC and didn't pay for 2 or 3 day service. I tracked the package online, and they left it on the truck for 2 days! It arrived damaged.
Part of the difference could be the local hubs and delivery people. My local UPS people seem much more professional that my local Fedex.
Our experience in NC is overwhelmingly favorable for FEDEX Ground. The drivers are independent contractors who own their own trucks and only get paid for what goes in or out of the truck, so they are really customer service oriented. I have my local guy's cell #, call him when I have a pickup, get same day service with no pickup charge. Sent oxy-probe from our gas kiln back to Axner for service, one day from NC to FL, one day back, at standard rates.
Fedex for us-our art is very fragile-have had no problems with Fedex. Also-they are more dependable if you are not in a large city-we are in the Keys at the end of Florida. UPS is not reliable here when compared to Fedex.
I had been using UPS for years until last year when I had a shipment damaged by them and they refused to pay even though I had paid the insurance. They claimed I hadn't packaged the art well enough. The customer I had sent it to thought it was well packaged. Anyhow after years paying extra for the insurance I had felt had.
I then decided it was time to try Fed Ex. I'm not sure if Fed Ex is more careful in deliveries or not, but no problems so far. But there are a few things I like better about them compared to UPS. First off their rates are almost always better! When you drop off a package at a Fed Ex Office I can get a receipt showing I indeed dropped off the package. My limited experience with their customer service seems better than UPS.
We ship lot of frames every day, mostly with FedEx. It is interesting to see the different comments and obviously a lot of the preference comes down to which part of the country you live in and the quality of your local delivery people.
FedEx Express drivers are employees of FedEx. FedEx ground drivers are sub contractors. Sometimes the driver is the owner of the truck and route, and sometimes he is employee of a larger sub contractor who owns multiple routes and trucks. All UPS drivers are employees of UPS.
As for rates, UPS web published rates are higher than FedEx however I have learned that their contract base rates, fuel surcharges, residential delivery fees and oversize fees are all identical. If you are under contract the price difference will be based on your negotiated discount rate.
As for shipping time we are shipping from Dallas TX and most of the country is within 3 days for us with both carriers. Fedex has a little more inside 3 days than UPS.
Both UPS and FedEx charge extra for residential delivery. FedEx has a separate service called FedEx Home for residential delivery and they deliver Tue-Sat. Commercial delivery is via their standard ground service and is performed Mon-Fri. If you have a business in your house, you will still get delivery via FedEx Home service since the classification is based on neighborhood. I am not sure about UPS other than I know that they do not deliver to commercial locations on Saturday.
I do not like trying to file a claim with FedEx. They usually want to pick up the material from our customer for inspection which I consider unacceptable in the case where only part of the order is damaged. They typically want items to be double boxed which are too expensive for us especially since the 2nd box will be causing additional dimensional weight charges and possibly oversize charges. Of course we are shipping frames without artwork so it is difficult for us to justify additional shipping cost with our customers. On the one occasion where we needed to ship a large order of frames that contained single edition artwork I was told by both FedEx and UPS that their shipping insurance did not cover art and we had to purchase insurance from an independent company. I have been told by UPS their claim service is a little easier however I have yet to try it out.