You might have heard about the business partnership between USPS and FedEx, which has been in place since 2001.
But what about USPS and UPS? Do they have any working partnership where the two can be used somewhat interchangeably?
Namely, can you drop off USPS at UPS? Have you ever been able to do so? Here is the answer I have found.
Can You Drop Off USPS At UPS In 2022?
Currently, it is not in customers’ best interests to drop off their USPS packages with UPS, unless the shipper is a member of the UPS Mail Innovations Returns program. However, in the event of a mistaken parcel drop-off, UPS endeavors to get packages into USPS hands for regular shipment.
To learn more about what happens if you mistakenly drop off a USPS package with UPS, whether USPS customers can use UPS Access Points and even what happens if the opposite occurs (UPS box to USPS) – keep reading!
What Happens If You Put USPS Package In UPS Drop Box?
Short answer: Your package will very likely make it back into the hands of USPS, but it could take a few extra business days.
Not only that, while the package is being transferred over, it is totally at the mercy of its handlers, and you have no way of tracking it or knowing where it is.
(Or you won’t at least until it makes it back to USPS and they scan it into their system, thus starting the parcel’s recorded history.)
But let’s back up.
Say you’re running around, getting shipments out, and you accidentally drop off a USPS package at your local UPS drop box.
Since reaching back into the bin is inadvisable, you have to trust that UPS will get it into the hands of the appropriate shipper.
And the good news? For the most part, UPS will achieve this, with only minimal disruption to your estimated delivery date.
This is because these kinds of mistakes are way more common than you might think.
And in order to handle these common mistakes, all the major shippers – UPS, FedEx, USPS – have made it part of their routine to go collect packages meant for themselves.
But what if you’re doing it on purpose, because you think the two shippers are interchangeable?
Unfortunately, they are not, and while you might have continued success using UPS as a USPS drop-off substitute, you’re ultimately inconveniencing your recipient.
That’s because you safely tack on at least an extra business day, to account for the time needed to transfer ownership of the package from UPS to USPS.
And in fact, the transfer might take even longer; so you’re just prolonging your recipient’s wait time.
Even worse, it increases the time during which the parcel is unaccounted for, as package drop-offs leave you with no receipt or proof of ownership with UPS.
If a package goes missing after a mistaken UPS drop-off, there is almost no way of retrieving it. All the normal avenues for finding it – its travel history, for one – are nonexistent.
So, ultimately the wisest course of action, both for yourself and your recipient, is to cut out the middleman (UPS) and just drop off your USPS packages with USPS.
They’ll be scanned into the system much faster and, if they go missing, they’ll be much easier to track down.
Can You Put USPS Package In UPS Access Point?
UPS Access Points are not an alternative to dropping off a parcel at the Post Office.
This is because UPS Access Points – UPS-partnered retailers and other businesses who accept UPS packages for drop-off and pick-up – tend to be manned service desks.
For example, there is one in my city’s Kohl’s store, and you simply go up to the customer service desk for pick-up or drop-off.
So while it’s easy enough to mistakenly (or otherwise) drop off a USPS package in a UPS drop box, with a human at the UPS Access Point, the box is less likely to be accepted.
Unless the associate really isn’t paying attention, they’re going to catch that you’re attempting to use the wrong shipper.
Especially since a USPS barcode is not the same as a UPS one.
What If You Drop A UPS Box At Post Office?
As I mentioned, the shippers aren’t interchangeable, but experience has led them to assume that mistakes will be made and their packages are going to end up in each other’s hands.
So if you drop off a UPS box with the Postal Service, you can expect much the same as when the situation is reversed.
UPS will eventually come and get their wayward parcels, but until they do, that box is in la-la-land, untraceable and untrackable.
Now, there is one glaring exception to the glaring “Don’t go dropping your UPS boxes at the Post Office” rule.
And that is if you are the recipient of a parcel from a sender who participates in the UPS Mail Innovations Returns.
This program is specifically geared toward regular shippers (small ecommerce businesses would be one example) who also deal in regular returns.
It appears to be the latest iteration of a program UPS rolled out in 2010, which was called UPS Returns Flexible Access.
It offers recipients hassle-free returns, where the shipper provides the paid-for label, and the package can be dropped off at any Post Office location.
Or it can just be left in the mailbox for the mail carrier to take.
The best part is that, with this program, the parcel is scanned into the system upon receipt and it’s fully trackable on its journey back.
But this is the only case where it is advisable to turn in a UPS package to the Postal Service.
It is inadvisable for customers to use UPS for their USPS packages, no matter how convenient it might be.
While UPS and USPS can get parcels to one another for delivery, those packages are largely untraceable until the correct shipper can scan them into their system, making them vulnerable.