Folks, I haven't followed this whole thread, so sorry for any redundancy or dumbdancy. A friend who runs a hifi shop who has for years shipped a lot of very expensive gear switched to Fedex a decade ago after having both package and billing problems with UPS. He was reluctant, because the local route guy was good, and he knew Fedex was a union-buster and labor-grinder. But, the service has been superior. That's my experience, too. For better handling, he tells me, use at least 2nd-day. Pack tightly and professionally using double-boxes for anything heavy or valuable. Drop-ship to customers whenever possible! That way, although the store still gets billed for freight, the manufacturer or distributor is responsible for the shipment. A few years ago, the fellow who covers that rural/small-town route got into trouble. He'd left a package for a regular store customer, signing for it himself, as the shop keeper was busy. Somehow, that got back to Fedex, and they fired the guy. He'd gone through the whole hiring wringer on the route, and everybody appreciated his exceptional service and hard work. He'd call customers ahead to tell them ETAs so they could connect - things like that. He appealed, and just about everyone on the route wrote supporting testimonials. But no good. He was out. They'd just had a kid and bought a house.