Santa's Sleigh Delayed After Snags at UPS, FedEx

Christmas-Delayed Packages
Charlie Riedel/AP
By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ

NEW YORK -- Santa's sleigh didn't make it in time for Christmas for some this year due to shipping problems at UPS and FedEx.

The delays were blamed on poor weather earlier this week in parts of the country as well as overloaded systems. The holiday shopping period this year was shorter than usual, more buying was done online and Americans' tendency to wait until the last possible second to shop probably didn't help either.

Neither company said how many packages were delayed but noted it was a small share of overall holiday shipments. While the bulk of consumers' holiday spending remains at physical stores, shopping online is increasingly popular and outstripping spending growth in stores at the mall.

"UPS is experiencing heavy holiday volume and making every effort to get packages to their destination; however, the volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity of our network immediately preceding Christmas so some shipments were delayed," United Parcel Service (UPS) said in a service advisory online Wednesday.

UPS isn't making pickups or deliveries Wednesday and plans to resume normally scheduled service Thursday.

Some FedEx customers are able to pick up packages Christmas Day at their local FedEx Express centers.

"We're sorry that there could be delays and we're contacting affected customers who have shipments available for pickup," said Scott Fiedler, a spokesman for FedEx (FDX).

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, FedEx handled 275 million shipments,
according to Fiedler. Those that weren't delivered in time, he said, "would be very few."

The problems appear to have impacted many parts of the country. The Associated Press spoke to people in Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia and other states who didn't receive presents in time for Christmas.

Many were left with little or no time to make alternative plans.

Jeff Cormier and his Dallas family were among those whose gifts never arrived.

He had three separate UPS packages -- including two for which he paid extra for expedited shipping -- delayed.

"I've had to apologize to three different people when I thought I had everything wrapped up and good to go way before," Cormier said.

He and his wife are celebrating their baby daughter's first Christmas and flew in his grandmother from Ohio to join them. Her gift, a customized iPhone cover with a photo of her new great-granddaughter, didn't come in time for Christmas.

"My wife and I had our presents to open. Our daughter had her presents to open. And my grandma, she didn't have anything to open," Cormier said.

Three people told The Associated Press that when they tracked their packages online, FedEx said deliveries to their homes were attempted but failed because "the business was closed." During follow-up calls with customer service, they said they learned that the local depot was overwhelmed and didn't attempt delivery.

On Sunday, Eric Swanson ordered a doll for his daughter and a sweater for his wife through Amazon.com and one of its affiliated sites. As an Amazon Prime customer, there was a promise of two-day delivery, getting the gifts to his Carmichael, Calif. home just in time for Christmas. One was shipped via UPS, the other FedEx.

"I thought it would happen," Swanson said. Online tracking tools said the packages would arrive by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Neither did.

Amazon.com (AMZN) has been notifying some customers affected by the UPS delays that it will refund any shipping charges and is giving them a $20 credit toward a future purchase.

Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako said the company processed orders and got them to its shippers "on time for holiday delivery" and is now "reviewing the performance of the delivery carriers."

While some customers may get money back, they might think twice about ordering online next year.

"My wife understands but my 5-year-old daughter ... I think we're going to let it be a surprise when it comes," Swanson said. "Next time, if I need to get a gift and cut it that close, I will just have to enter the fray and go to mall."


Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

What are Penny Stocks

The lucrative and dangerous world of penny stocks.

View Course »

Basics of Diversification

Learn one of the fundamental concepts of building a portfolio.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

105 Comments

Filter by:
vancecline

Your headline gives an insight into your liberal standing.. UPS and FEDEX had almost nothing to do with the delays. One cannot predict the number of users that procrastinated to the point that they overloaded the two systems. Maybe you should have headlined "LATE SHOPPERS CAUSE CHRISTMAS GRIEF FOR THEIR FAMILIES"..

December 27 2013 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rick

Just so it\'s not a big surprize...Christmas falls on December 25 next year...try plannig ahead.

December 27 2013 at 9:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pug1214

Most of you who are blubbering about not getting your packages in time for Christmas probably did not order your gifts until December 23 and then, thinking that you would get them the next day if you paid a little more for shipping, did not take one thing into consideration (besides the fact that you should have ordered them earlier), UPS Next Day Air's terminal is located in Louisville, Kentucky where they had a pretty good sized storm last weekend. UPS officials there estimated that there would be about 2.1 million packages coming through that terminal in the last few days before Christmas. Would you like to know approximately how many really went through their facility? Something on the order of 3.3 million. Between the weather and that number of packages going through one facility, that they got as many delivered as they did is nothing short of a miracle. The lesson here is next year, do you ordering earlier and, if you continue to procrastinate and wait until two days before Christmas to place your orders, then you deserve everything (or nothing) that you get.

December 26 2013 at 11:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kwredmans

i work for fedex and the people who say we dont care iis funny we were working 15 hr days breaking all DOT rules working in ice storms snow storms walking on driveways side walks and steps covered in ice walking packages down driveways city blocks long calling to correct bad addresses from shippers it is not an easy job physical and mentaly demanding lots of lost family time couldnt go to my own family gatherings some may not care but i do care bah humbug

December 26 2013 at 9:42 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
dmathvin@gmail.com

I ordered 2 gifts on 11/28... one arrives 12/17 and the other on 12/22 after being "on the truck for delivery by EOD" for 4 days in a row and having to call both sellers to place a trace on the packages. Still don;t think it's UPS' fault?

December 26 2013 at 8:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dmathvin@gmail.com's comment
experimenttoo

When did the company actually ship them? In other words when did they actually give them to UPS? Also what kind of shape was your driveway or road in? Warning letters and suspensions for getting stuck are given out. A legit place would have given you a tracking number beginning with 1Z as soon as they shipped so you would not have needed to call the seller.

December 26 2013 at 11:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Glen

For once it wasn't the postal service.

December 26 2013 at 7:57 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
auctionsurplus

Everyone on here whining and complaining.......I saw drivers out at 6a.m. and still out delivering at 9p.m. You want more trucks and more drivers? Bet you don't want to spend more on shipping to cover it! Drivers work hard. The delays were not from lack of trying. and NO I DON'T work for Fed Ex or UPS. There were also winter storms....snow/ice/sleet/freezing rain in MANY parts of the country. To me, no pkg is worth the life of a driver. Someone's daughter/son/wife/husband/etc. Here's a thought for all of you waiting...........maybe next year remember to actually get your gifts ordered earlier.

December 26 2013 at 7:48 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Rhonda

still waiting

December 26 2013 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
btowngal

Both companys knew it was Christmas time. It was not a surprise. They need new staffing directors. But finding the Fedex packages in street and contacting them two days before Chrismas as of today 12/26 still have heard nothing from Fedex. Would love to hear excuse for leaving packages in street. While there maybe trouble with both of these company, at least UPS is just late, Fedex just doesn't care.

December 26 2013 at 5:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to btowngal's comment
d1anaw

They are not responsible for the weather. While I would agree, that they probably should have delivered on Christmas day since they were behind, the fact is that people need to stop behaving as though it's the worst thing that could happen. They need to change their expectations. People don't die because a package is late, but people did die due to weather related injuries. How about a little perspective here? Or is that really too much to ask?

December 26 2013 at 8:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to d1anaw's comment
btowngal

What does any of that have to do with fedex packages in the street??? I agree ordering early is the answer, but if it ends up in the street, early ordering will help
With no word from Fedex it is just bad customer service.

December 26 2013 at 9:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
ddacarrier46

I've read all of the comments made and my opinion is why are people blaming these companies for not receiving their packages before Christmas. You waited until the last minute to order, you paid additional fees when you could have saved and ordered ahead of time. FedEx and UPS had their drivers out working extremely late trying to make people happy. It does get to a point when those drivers safety becomes a concern. So if you didn't get it, you should have ordered it earlier.

December 26 2013 at 4:42 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply