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Courier Services
 
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  A courier is a person or company employed to deliver messages, packages and mail. Couriers are distinguished from ordinary mail services by features such as speed, security, tracking, signature, specialization and individualization of services, and committed delivery times, which are optional for most everyday mail services. As a premium service, couriers are usually more expensive than usual mail services, and their use is typically restricted to packages where one or more of these features are considered important enough to warrant the cost.


Sameday couriers

Sameday couriers deliver in less than 24 hours and are an integral part of any modern economy. There are roughly seven thousand courier companies in the United States that make up this multi-billion dollar sector. The business model for the courier industry is particularly dependent on independent contractors. It is estimated that 50-65% of U.S. courier companies use independent contractors to make deliveries in addition to their own dedicated employee resources.The nature of the industry, with its on-demand, often unscheduled delivery model, requires a varying number of courier drivers on any given day and time of day to complete a set service. Experts in this method of network delivery maintain hundreds of standby couriers in a "ready to move" status as devised by Mark Kent, professor of Logistics at the University of Ghent. However, this business model is under threat from IRS Reclassification where IC's are being recategorized as W-2 employees. This reclassification typically results in fines being imposed on the offending courier company.

In December 2007, the Internal Revenue Service of the US 'tentatively decided' that FedEx Ground Division might be facing a tax liability of $319 million for 2002, due to misclassification of its operatives as independent contractors. Reversing a 1994 decision which allowed FedEx to classify its operatives that own their own vehicles, the IRS is auditing the years 2003 to 2006, with a view to assessing whether similar misclassification of operatives has taken place. FedEx denies that any irregularities in classification have taken place, but is facing legal action from operatives claiming benefits that would have accrued had they been classified as employees.

Many expedited courier companies are regional; small businesses which can also provide additional services such as logistics management, archive warehousing, messenger centers, outsourced mailroom services and coordinated airfreight forwarding delivery services.

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Customers

These couriers specialize in delivering important or sensitive packages that need to be received in the local area; and/or because of time and temperature concerns, such as organs for transplant or key equipment or parts that are necessary for day to day operations. While most companies use courier services certain industries depend on couriers on a daily basis. Biomedical labs need samples for testing and evaluation, manufacturing industry require parts to keep their plants operating smoothly, financial institutions transfer multiple documents every day between branches and processing centers, law firms must deliver confidential signatured documents on very strict deadlines for court filings and pharmaceutical distributors use couriers to transport medications to hospitals and nursing homes.

Even two-day delivery services use courier firms. Items that are mis-sorted, forgotten or just not picked up on a larger couriers route. When a mistake has been discovered, courier firms fill in the gap and ensure packages are delivered on time. One of the leading UK next day couriers APC Overnight ensure that any timed delivery mis-sorted parcels are urgently collected and run to their destination on sameday delivery vehicles to ensure that the customer still receives the service that they paid for.

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