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USPS vs Other Delivery Services

When deciding on a mail or package delivery service, the choice usually comes down to the government-owned and run USPS versus the private competitors such as FedEx, UPS, and DHL. For over 200 years, the post office has been the go-to choice for many people and businesses when sending packages and letters. However, the private sector has taken advantage of the shortfalls of the USPS being controlled by the government which led to the rise of worthy competitors like FedEx and UPS. However, as much as the private firms have gained popularity, the USPS remains the top choice for most people and businesses across the US.

Why the USPS is still on top

The main reason why the USPS remains the best option for most people is that it holds a monopoly on first class shipping. According to Article I, section 8, Clause 7 of the Constitution, Congress has the power to establish post roads and post offices, which was interpreted as a de facto monopoly over the delivery of non-urgent residential letters- also called first class residential mail. No other system of first-class mail delivery– public or private- is tolerated without consent from Congress.

The mission of the USPS is to provide every US citizen with a trusted universal postal service. The Universal Service Obligation (USO) guides the Postal Service in achieving this mission and includes multiple dimensions; range of products, geographic scope, delivery frequency, access to facilities and services, uniform and affordable pricing, quality of service, and security of the mail. The postal monopoly was established to fund the USO, and it has existed for over a century.

The postal monopoly is built on two main pillars; the Private Express Statutes and the mailbox access rule. The Private Express Statutes refers to the USPS’s monopoly over first-class mail delivery. The mailbox access rule refers to the USPS’s exclusive access to mailboxes.

FedEx and UPS are not allowed to deliver non-urgent letters and cannot ship directly to US mailboxes at commercial and residential destinations. However, they both have a transit agreement with the Postal Service where they can ship to the destination post office where the item will be transferred to the recipient’s mailbox by the USPS.

Where Private Companies can compete

UPS and FedEx directly compete with the USPS in package delivery and express mail services, making nationwide delivery of packages and urgent letters.

While the USPS is the better and cheaper choice for shipping parcels under 3.5 lbs, FedEx and UPS often prove the better option for parcels weighing over 5lbs and for shipments where on-time delivery and up-to-the-minute tracking is important.

Ground shipping a package over 5 lbs to certain locations in the US is several dollars cheaper with FedEx and UPS than with the USPS. For shorter distances, both UPS and FedEx can ship a 5lb ground parcel faster than the Postal Service, with guaranteed delivery dates.

Another benefit of UPS and FedEx is that they both allow packages weighing up to 150 lbs which is a lot more than the USPS which only allows packages weighing up to 70 lbs. As such, there are packages that you can only send using FedEx or UPS.