Who’s faster at shipping to me from China? FedEx or UPS?

I ordered two products from Apple on one order. Both were made in China, and shipped straight to me from the manufacturer. UPS was tasked with delivering the product made in Shanghai, and FedEx was tasked with delivering the product made in Chengdu. Apple sent me two shipment notification emails, one for each product. According to the email headers, UPS got the package at 10:35 pm my time, and FedEx got the package at 10:45 pm my time.

I chose the standard free shipping. My guess is that Apple chose to use UPS and FedEx because they were the cheapest supplier at each location. FedEx calls their service International Economy Distribution, and UPS calls their service World Wide Express, making the UPS service sound faster, but why would Apple pay extra for a higher level of service?

Since UPS got an 10 minute and almost 2,000 mile head start we’ll spot FedEx a day in the race. I’ll call it a tie if the FedEx package gets to me the next business day, and give FedEx the win if both packages arrive on the same day.

The race started on a Wednesday (Thursday in China). The race will span at least one weekend, and probably the Fourth of July holiday. I’ll only count my business days.

Update 1

UPS took an early lead. While FedEx said the package got to them after their local cutoff in China, UPS got the package at the same time and got it moving. China has one timezone, so they got the packages at the same time on the clock, but the sun sets about two hours later where FedEx picked up their package. So FedEx is far behind after the first lap.

Update 2

Twenty two hours after the initial shipment notification emails FedEx reports that the package is sitting at their location in Chengddu. UPS is reporting that they are having mechanical difficulties with their airplane, which should be an excuse for slowing them down. Yet, they’ve gotten the package to Anchorage, AK. Looks like UPS is expanding their lead.

The Results

I got both packages the same day. UPS actually got the package to my office door on Saturday, but nobody was here, so they had to come back on Monday. The day the packages arrived FedEx was a few hours later in the day, but, as I said above, FedEx was spotted a day for having to travel further. So for speed, I have to award a tie.

Considering service, style, and overall quality of the experience, UPS did a better job. The UPS website was updated in real time. As far as I could tell events scanned in on the package are communicated back to the home office and posted to the website immediately. Each event that happened appeared on the website as it happened. FedEx batched updates to the website. There would be no updates for a extended period of time, then suddenly a bunch of updates would appear. The website would report that the package was received at a location, processed, and departed the location over a few hours. During that time I did check the website, but didn’t find any updates. Then hours later the updates would appear. For example the package was on the truck for delivery before I woke, but when I checked on the race the website reported it was still in Tennessee. Four hours later the website reported that the package left Tennessee, arrived in Milwaukee, got processed, and was placed on the delivery truck.

FedEx also made a mistake. I work in an office building with a number of different companies. My office is on the second floor. The delivery label clearly said “Second Floor”. Yet the FedEx package was dropped off with a company in the basement.