UPS and FedEx were unable to deliver on Christmas, leaving trees barren across the country and many customers upset or outright enraged. Analysts are blaming a combination of three factors: a shorter holiday season, leading to shoppers ordering later in the month, leading to an increase in online shopping. As of now, employees of both companies are scrambling to get late packages where they need to go through sleet and snow. Many FedEx and UPS offices are contacting customers with late packages that are available to picked up, and this is taking some of the load off of drivers and shipping centers.
This year the holiday season was six days shorter between Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Morning, meaning more shoppers than usual were caught off guard by the sudden approach of the Christmas deadline. With local shops often swamped, or sometimes cleaned out, over 60 million Americans turned to online stores over Thanksgiving weekend to get their gifts in time to be opened on Christmas Morning.
Despite the increase in online traffic, popular online retailer Amazon was able to tender all of its orders to delivery carriers on time, meaning the reason that UPS and FedEx were unable to deliver on Christmas is within their own systems. Amazon is set to offer affected customers $20 gift cards and discounts on shipping if the packages they had promised to deliver on Christmas were late.
On top of the extra work load, UPS and FedEx had to deal with terrible weather in the Midwest, with winter storms bringing ice and snow that halted many small towns and debilitated UPS and FedEx shipping centers. UPS was particularly hard hit with shipping problems, ranging from delayed pickups to stranded drivers. Problems extended to the UPS website as well, with some customers using the package tracking service being told their deliveries had arrived when they were still waiting.
FedEx representatives say they handled over 257 million deliveries smoothly, and the number of missed packages they are responsible for is very small. Both UPS and FedEx are expected to drop shipping charges on packages that could not be delivered in time for Christmas Morning.
Amid the turmoil, the U.S. Postal service has reported a 19% increase in package volume compared to this time last year.
Thousands of customers across the U.S. are furious that UPS and FedEx were unable to deliver on Christmas, despite some ordering very early to ensure timely delivery. Other customers even paid extra for express two day shipping and still ended up waiting a week. Amazon, UPS, and FedEx have all offered apologies, as well as refunds and discounts, but for some, Christmas has been ruined and nothing can repair it. Although both companies are enjoying very high service rates in nearly all of their installations, it is a simple case of demand outweighing supply. Representatives from UPS said that the volume of packages “exceeded the capacity of our network.” Combined with bad weather and late surges in shopping, there was little more that could be done to get packages under the tree in time.
By Daniel O’Brien