What are DHL weaknesses compared to FedEx and UPS?

by Nigel Lewis on 2010-07-04 00:00:00

DHL, UPSSocial Networking is becoming popular among logistics professionals around the world. It allows people to connect and share information relevant to their industry. One question that arose on one of the Social Networking Sites is a question I thought was very interesting. It was asked of the logistics community and they responded.

The Question was, What are DHL weaknesses compared to FedEx and UPS?  The answers are very informative, Please see below from various users.



If you’re sending a parcel shipments(under 150lbs) you basically get the same service across the board. Its all about you the shipper understanding shipping timetables and policy’s; being proactive about giving good destination contacts,phone numbers and accurate delivery information. Understanding that next day service for instance means 24 hours from the point(time) of pick up. You basically want to shop by price.

Now if you ship LTL shipments (over 150lbs) you’re really in trouble with these companies. Their customer support is weak at best, their operations support is non existent,their communication is totally absent, their valuation and claim process is vague and not properly disclosed,their equipment is bare bones basic and their LTL drivers are of the lowest common denominator and completely helpless if any challenges arrive and they always do. They will return to their dispatch hub instead of trying to solve a field problem in the hopes that it will “just resolve itself” for tomorrows run. If you ship LTL save yourself some heartache and call a real dedicated trucking company or van line.

No website supports this information that I know of, this is from 18 years of personal experience using and working for said carriers in demanding,ever evolving and high pressure environments.

My experience has been that DHL is typically more expensive than either UPS or FedEx; however, I’ve also seen that they go into places (internationally) that neither FedEx or UPS would touch. For example, in late 2003 ONLY DHL flew into Baghdad, Iraq . Depending on location, DHL can be the better international choice while FedEx and UPS seem to offer the more economical choice.

FedEx has guaranteed delivery.

Market share and experience in US Market. Domestic small parcel is there specialty

Having worked for DHL and UPS…I can say that UPS is superior in Technology, from Worldship to Paperless invoice. UPS can import on the clients account number that they ship domestic and export packages. No need for a special 95 or 96 account number like DHL. Also, if a client can be convinced that the International service mirrors that of the great domestic service and great opperations UPS has, this will assist also. UPS also offers more services Internationally…they offer the Saver service which is equal to the DHL WPX or IDOC service…but in additional they offer two quicker time definite transits with Express Plus and Express (Early AM and Noon Delivery) further, they offer a slower air service, Expedited, that can save the client a few dollars when biz is not critical. Finally, UPS International services are day and time guaranteed. DHL has numerous advantages also. It depends what the client needs. But to answer your question…see above.

It’s hard for me to be objective as I’m a UPSer myself and obviously I’d say that UPS is much better than DHL (not to mention the F… word).

Just wanted to say that there are some inaccuracies in Jason Fernandez’ comments. When Jason says “… if you ship LTL shipments (over 150lbs) you’re really in trouble with these companies…” is a big misconception, not to mention that he’s excluding Air & Ocean Freight. UPS Supply Chain Solutions is extremely solid when it comes to move heavy freight (over 150lbs), both in NA and internationally. Our customer and operations support is best-in-class and we have unmatched capabilities.

UPS“…their equipment is bare bones basic …” I don’t know how to take it. I can just say that UPS is the eight largest airline in the world and has the largest fleet of trucks, a whole bunch of them being brand new hybrid trucks.

Anyway, if you need LTL service I would recommend our sister company UPS Freight.

DHL deployed their plan to take the US market by storm by limiting access to their software, charging higher rates, and failing to provide adequate sales and service.

In my experience in the Chicago area, UPS has an edge on FedEx (freight and parcel). Sales on both was more attentive, even if more traditional. It is good to have them both to avoid complacency.

FedEx uses owner operators for their ground operations. Their handling is not as careful, their trucks not as well laid out, and their terminals are less efficient.

Just about everything. UPS and FedEx Express employees are company employees. DHL pickups and deliveries are contractors. I owned a shipping business and the the DHL drivers were some seedy characters. As you all may know, DHL no longer operates ground ops in the USA. They gave that up about 2 years ago. Too many players for ground shipments for them to get a foothold like they thought they might be able to do In the past I had too many billing problems with DHL. Claims were an absolute nightmare. I will give DHL props on their international document shipping. They are able to get to a lot of destinations in the middle eat, China, some places in Africa 1-3 days faster than UPS or FedEx.

DHL’s main weakness – it no longer exits! (at least domestically)

UPS and FedEx are pretty much a classic duopoly but only in the domestic shipping industry. FedEx operates in more countries than UPS, and they want to continue to focus their efforts on expansion in the European and Asian markets. DHL Express is number 1 in Europe while UPS and Fedex are on the top in the US. I think that most people confuse DHL Deutsche Post with DHL Express. Deutsche Post DHL is the world’s leading mail and logistics Group. DHL Express is only one of DP divisions. For example DHL Global Forwarding is the world’s second largest ocean freight forwarder and the global leader is air freight busines.

DHL Express discontinued domestic services in the US but remains committed to the US express market because US presence is essential to DHL entire global Express network. Half of global shipments touch the US…

est Regards

Each of the organizations has its merits and it purely depends on the need of the hour and one’s perception of the service quality. As an analyst who’s been tracking logistics players, I’d structure my answer in two parts:

Delivery strengths: Express Delivery: DHL is strong in non-US destinations, specially in Europe while FedEX and UPS have strengths in US. From a brand re-call perspective, DHL has much better brand re-call as a large parcel player. DHL’s strengths lie in it’s freight forwarding. The good thing about DHL is it has an agile management that could figure out early that they’re loosing more money in maintaining US domestic express network and logged out.

When it comes to FedEx, it’s more tech savvy. With a big tech budget, their leverage cutting edge technologies to ensure they reduce opex, improve customer experience. Some of their investments in technology whether it is route planning or customer experience have paid them off well.

When it comes to Asian markets, UPS SCS has a better brand re-call.

Weakness – DHL’s perceived weakness they are not that tech savvy (which need not be true. DHL has been scaling up on technology at the same pace as that of it’s peers). They have disadvantage when it comes to US domestic express market. (though it is a good business decision, it did have a brand impact).

Perceived weakness is about brand re-call for high end supply chain consulting and thought leadership. Frankly these very areas are DHL strengths as well. But you know strength and weakness is more a matter of perception some times.

DHL – The only issues I had were reliability in the beginning and shipments across countries once in awhile. I really miss DHL. Make sure you work with your salesperson to give you the best prices. From a price standpoint they were very good. Also, if you need authorized return shipping labels, DHL provided the same price for packages up to 150 lbs. Work closely with your representative and make sure you negotiate a great deal in the beginning.

FedEx – Reliable, very pricey
UPS – Reliable, Up to date technology, Easier to negotiate a better deal then FedEx and more options than Fedex.

Key is negotiating a deal with your representative.

Nigel Lewis
CEO - Global Logistics Media Group

  • Comment by Wayne Robinson on 2010-07-29 02:47:46

    DHL = some good price options, shocking, uninformed, even lazy CS in NZ. Ask the same quesiton of 3 people and get 3 different (sometimes VERY different) answers - even down to the simple stuff like max dims etc. Terrible billing systems - most times incorrectly billed.
    By comparison TNT have it all over them.