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The Ugly Truth: as TNT / FedEx takeover concludes, what happens to ugly freight?


As the FedEx-TNT merger concludes, David Jinks MILT, head of consumer research at international parcel broker ParcelHero, warns of possible increased costs and transit times for large and heavy items.

When heavy and outsize loads need to be shipped, many businesses and consumers traditionally choose TNT Express. It has made so-called ‘ugly freight’ a speciality. But the FedEx takeover of TNT Express could impact on its large and heavy item deliveries.

Many carriers have restrictive parcel size and weight restrictions; but TNT has significantly greater flexibility on the size of packages it accepts, operating bigger vehicles than other carriers, generally with tail lifts capable of loading pallets and heavy parcels.

FedEx are specialists in international delivery services; but have no culture of supporting ugly freight to any extent. If TNT Express is steered away from such items once they become a part of FedEx – and it’s undeniable that they do require more investment and expertise – the loss of these services would be keenly felt.

ParcelHero, like TNT Express, finds beauty in ugly freight; and we know senders like to have flexibility and as low a price as possible when shipping such items. Many carriers avoid outsize loads as they don’t fit easily with their systems: or they charge significantly more for such shipments; but TNT only last year opened a Sydney ‘superhub’ capable of sorting outsize objects over 1.5 metres in size or 30kg in weight to reinforce its ugly freight capability. The express large and heavy items service needs to be protected after the take-over.

We welcome the merger of the two organisations: TNT Express is largely about European ground based operations and it has only a limited presence in the US; while FedEx is known for its Europe-UK to America quality international service. They are, therefore, largely complimentary and won’t constitute the monopoly the UPS-TNT proposed merger would have.

However, large and heavy items are frequently shipped through ParcelHero’s parcel broker service and we would hate to see the loss of TNT Express’ unique and cost-effective approach to this part of the delivery market.

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