The Great Package Race
I am currently in the process of deciding how I will send a bunch of important documents by express courier. From Hainan, the choice is between TNT and DHL. FedEx and UPS do not have representation here. If I go to a larger city in the mainland, FedEx will be an option. UPS, despite claiming representation, does not want to give me a quote for time/cost.
TNT seems to be far and away, the most expensive. On the other hand, they did handle a delivery of an important document TO ME quite well when I was in Kunming. I told them when I could be available, and where, and they followed through.
I found this Georgia Tech page interesting – comparing DHL, UPS, and FedEx shipping items to places off the beaten track. DHL won their competition this year. Other than in 2003, UPS has come in last every competition. Now, the fact that both DHL and FedEx had difficulties shipping to Iraq and Myanmar doesn’t affect me much – I am shipping to places much more integrated into modern society. But I am impressed by DHL being able to ship to those places without problems.
Realistically, the competition is only between DHL and FedEx. DHL has lower rates, even if I add on a 80RMB/HKD insurance fee that will cover the costs of obtaining new copies of the documents I am sending (which is far more than the actual value of the documents, being pretty close to 0). FedEx has a huge list of exceptions for package insurance. They void it all around Chinese New Year, so if I have packages at that time transiting China, I won’t send them by FedEx.
It seems like DHL is the winner, but not having used their services in recent years, I am not sure how they fare. The last time was in 1998, and that was really for Airbourne Express in the USA (which later was purchased by DHL, thus extending their reach into the US market).