UPS Blames Bad Weather, More Packages and Online Shopping for Delays

Some are still waiting for their Christmas presents

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Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

UPS on December 20, 2012 in San Francisco, California.

With many still waiting for their Christmas presents, UPS blamed this year’s surge of holiday package delays on a “perfect storm” of circumstances, including severe weather conditions in Dallas, a shorter time frame between Thanksgiving and Christmas and an uptick in online shopping.

“All of this culminated to become the perfect storm, so to speak,” UPS spokeswoman Natalie Black told CNN. “We’re terribly sorry.”

After many customers were left waiting in vain for on-time delivery of Christmas presents, the company issued a statement apologizing for the hold-up and said it was working to resolve the problem. UPS sorted packages on Wednesday, Christmas Day, so drivers could get an early start Thursday, Black said.

“This has been the worst Christmas ever,” Larry Ledet, who’s been a driver for UPS for 27 years, told USA Today.

Meanwhile, companies like Amazon also took a hit from the shipment backlog. The online retailer, which promised some customers a delivery in time for the holiday, issued an apology for the UPS failure and offered to refund shipping charges and provide gift cards.

[CNN]

14 comments
Thai
Thai

UPS's blaming "..a shorter time frame between Thanksgiving and Christmas.." as one of the reasons they failed to deliver on time, is rather a humorous excuse. Yes there were 5 fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they haven't changed the calendar since the year 1582, so that excuse is inexcusable. They should have planned for that earlier.

PhDEE
PhDEE

The only thing we need to work out is the blame share.  I say UPS/FedEx should get 40%, since they absolutely could have hired more people; retailers get 30% because they should know that telling people they can order on Sunday for a Tuesday delivery just encourages people to wait until Sunday; the consumer gets 35% as you have to be smarter than waiting until the last minute for SOMEONE ELSE to deliver your packages.  Yes, that's 105%, because if you're not willing to give 105% during the holidays, then you'll be forced to wait until December 26th for your packages.

MelC
MelC

Just remember it was Amazon advertising "Order Sunday and get it by Christmas" when the only part of that promise Amazon had to fulfill ended at its own loading dock. And they were far from the only major online retailer doing that.


Hopefully next year the retailers will exercise a little bit of caution in their messaging...wait, who am I kidding? Amazon is blaming UPS.

Channah
Channah

I did 90% of my shopping on line-mostly Amazon.  I had my shopping completely done and in hand before Thanksgiving.  You can also blame these people who wait till the last minute before they shop.  There is no reason to wait.

vadertime
vadertime

For several months, all the experts have been pointing to record online sales for Amazon and other online retailers. Now, shouldn't companies like UPS and Fedex, experts in their area of transportation and logistics, plan accordingly. This was no secret that more and more people were shopping online, Also, storms and bad weather are always omni-present during the holidays and present special challenges to shippers, but shouldn't companies like UPS and FedEx have a plan B, in case their major hubs are swamped by bad weather? Trying to point to the online consumer seems like blame-shifting and not taking responsibility for better planning and execution of what the whole world knew was going to be a record season for holiday online shopping.

D_Coder
D_Coder

This doesn't make sense. They knew they'd have fewer days (calendars are pretty well known) and they should have realized that online shopping only increases from year to year. What am I missing, or what are they not telling us, or did they just manage to screw this up?

elee554
elee554

@Channah Exactly right. All the blame is being placed on the UPS & FedEx, but the customers are to blame too with their last minute purchases. I shopped at Amazon two weeks before Christmas and all the gifts were delivered on-time.

Channah
Channah

@vadertime Yes--I just said this (comment above yours).  Why did people wait till the last minute to do their shopping?  Mine was all finished before Thanksgiving.

elee554
elee554

@vadertime It's very easy to be an armchair quarterback. Sometimes bad circumstances just snowball into a perfect mess. It's not like UPS & FEDEX didn't try their best. My FedEx guy delivered a package at 8:45 PM on Christmas eve. I'm sure he would have preferred being home with his family.

Channah
Channah

@D_Coder It was the shoppers who waited till the last minute do to their shopping who screwed things up.

D_Coder
D_Coder

I finally heard (elsewhere) the root cause. Last-minute deals (where "last-minute" means a month or couple weeks before the holiday) from Amazon and other online stores caused volume to grow even more than forecast. So no, they didn't have a year to figure this out. I know UPS et al can't ramp up at the last minute.

D_Coder
D_Coder

@MelCDo you have any evidence that they couldn't find more trucks or drivers? Considering that they had, oh, a YEAR to figure this out? And if that really was the case, why didn't they just say so?


Maybe it's just easier to blame the customer than admit that they screwed up.

MelC
MelC

@D_Coder @Channah So what you're saying is that UPS simply needed to dig into their magic bag of infinite resources, and everything would have been magically delivered on time? 


They're already employing an army of drivers, sorters and vehicles...pretty much as many as they can get their hands on. Cheap two-day nationwide delivery is something you'd have thought insanity a little more than a decade ago.


As a wise man said, "everything's amazing and nobody's happy."