Courier Service in Canada

Not all courier services are built alike. They all claim to do fundamentally the same thing, delivering your parcels in a timely and efficient manner, but do they all actually deliver as advertised?

Since I work from home as a freelance writer, I get random deliveries from time to time, typically containing samples of products that I can then review for my clients. I do not hold an account with any of these courier companies, so my experience is mostly from the perspective of someone receiving an item rather than the perspective of sending something out.

Naturally, my experiences with these courier services may not be quite the same as yours. There are variations based on geography, the drivers in your area, the customer service representative that picked up the phone, and so forth. For instance, I hear that the driver in iPhone Gary‘s neighborhood will actually send you a text message to let you know that he’s on his way. That’s above and beyond the call of duty for sure!

So, which courier service (mostly in Canada) reigns supreme?

Canada Post and USPS

The package delivery service by Canada Post and the United States Postal Service (USPS) tends to be the most economical, so it’s a good way to cut back on expenses if you’re shipping things out. Whenever I host a contest on Beyond the Rhetoric, like the current contest for an iTrip nano, I send out the prize via Canada Post.

The online ship-in-a-click service is very convenient, since I can print a shipping label from home. This service is also integrated with eBay, allowing you to pay via PayPal. That’s the good news. The downside is that the tracking of packages via Canada Post and USPS is absolutely terrible. It seems like they only update the tracking every three or four days, so it’s not the most accurate thing in the world.

In terms of receiving items, the delivery drivers are typically very friendly and efficient. If you’re not home, they’ll leave a delivery notice, letting you pick up your parcel at the nearest post office. Living in an urban centre, the nearest post office is typically only a few blocks away. Compare this to the “depots” of other couriers; there may only be one of those per city.

DHL Express Canada

I haven’t had all that much experience with DHL, presumably because they don’t push their corporate accounts nearly as much with suppliers. I haven’t run into any problems with their service thus far, but I also haven’t had any stellar experiences either. If you’re using DHL Express, feel free to chime in through the comment form below.

FedEx (Federal Express)

The customer service agents at FedEx are consistently friendly and courteous. The same can be said about the drivers when they happen to drop off cool new toys for me to enjoy. They’re more than happy to return to the truck to grab more supplies for me and the drivers can very patient if I happen to goof on the waybill in some way. If I happen to miss a delivery attempt, a notice is left on my door and they’ll typically try again later on in the same day. That’s a definite plus in my book.

The online tracking tool is very good, but I do have one big suggestion that I’d like to make to FedEx. It would be much more convenient for me if I could schedule a pickup through the website rather than having to relay the information over the phone. I like the reps on the phone, but it usually takes more time out of my day to do that. I’m thinking that if I had a FedEx account, I’d be able to make better use of the website. There are some convenient self-service drop centres around town, but these don’t feel quite as secure as handing off a box to another human being.

UPS: What Can Brown Do For You?

Just like FedEx, the drivers at UPS are typically quite friendly and efficient. They’ll always greet me with a “good morning” or “good afternoon” while proceeding with the usual “sign here” procedure. Everything gets sent along very quickly and the online tracking tool is just as good as Federal Express. Should I miss a shipment, the delivery notice usually provides enough information to let me know when they’ll be trying again, but it’s usually not within the same day.

On the plus side, I am able to schedule a pickup through the UPS website rather than having to phone it in. I don’t need a UPS account and I can be pretty specific about the pickup window. Typically, I give them at least a four hour window, but this is certainly better than the standard fare of expecting a driver sometime between 8am and 6pm.

Purolator Courier

By far, my worst experiences with courier services has to be with Purolator Courier. I posted an open letter to Purolator late last year. When I missed a delivery attempt, no notice was left on my door. When I called in to redirect the shipment, they claimed that I did not provide a unit number (but I did provide the business name). They are not at all proactive and they even called me a liar. That’s not good customer service at all.

This wasn’t an isolated incident either. I was expecting a separate shipment and was told that it would be delivered on a certain day. I waited all day, only to receive a phone call at 5pm asking when I would like to pick up the package from the depot. The depot is at least a half hour drive away. They don’t leave delivery attempt notices, they call their customers liars, and they never follow-through on their promises. Do not use Purolator, even if it happens to be the official courier of the 2010 Olympic Games.

What has your experience been with the different courier services in your area? Do you prefer one over the others?