Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Christmas Cheer Transportation News

Surge In Online Orders Overwhelms UPS Christmas Deliveries 378

Posted by timothy
from the coordinating-unknowns-is-hard dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that the high volume of online orders of holiday packages overwhelmed shipping and logistics company UPS delaying the arrival of Christmas presents around the globe and sending angry consumers to social media to vent. The company projected 132 million deliveries last week "and obviously we exceeded that," said UPS spokeswoman Natalie Black without disclosing how many packages had been sent. "For now, UPS is really focused on delivering the remaining packages. You might not see trucks, but people are working." Asked why the company underestimated the volume of air packages it would receive, Black noted that previous severe weather in the Dallas area had already created a backlog. Then came "excess holiday volume" during a compressed time frame, since the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was shorter than usual this year. Amazon.com responded with an email to affected customers offering shipping refunds and $20 gift cards to compensate. Packages shipped via UPS for Amazon.com by Prime customers, who pay $79 a year for two-day shipping, may be eligible for additional refunds. Amazon's stated policy for missed deliveries is to offer a free one-month extension of Prime. Frustrated consumers took to social media, with some complaining that gifts purchased for their children would not arrive in time to make it under the tree by Christmas morning. '"A lot of these employees keep saying 'It's the weather' or 'It's some kind of a backlog,' said Barry Tesh. 'Well then why, all the way up until the 23rd, were they offering next-day delivery? That guaranteed delivery was 80% of my decision to buy the gift."' However, others on social media urged shoppers to be more appreciative of the delivery company's work during the holiday season. 'While others take vacation and time off in December, remember we aren't allowed ever to be off in December. Ever,' said a 20-year veteran UPS driver on the UPS Facebook page. 'So when you see your family and complain that your package is held up, everyone who moves your package is working and doesn't get the Xmas experience you get, Be thankful for that.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Surge In Online Orders Overwhelms UPS Christmas Deliveries

Comments Filter:
  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:06PM (#45788321)

    I can understand that UPS / Fedex failed to predict their full load. It's too bad, but part of life.

    What really surprises me is that they didn't have a system in place that (a) detected when they were at risk of having too many order to keep their QoS commitments, and (b) warning prospective customers that they might not get a prospective order delivered by Christmas.

  • 'merica (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:09PM (#45788353)

    #firstworldproblems

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:11PM (#45788357)

    It seems to me, they worship physical objects, and not their Creator. Give the U.S.P.S. a break if there's a snowstorm. I can't believe that a holiday these folks allege to be a Religious one can be "ruined" because stuff they want (that has nothing to do with the religious observance) is a day late.

  • serious (Score:1, Insightful)

    by kcmastrpc (2818817) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:12PM (#45788381)
    I rarely say this, because it's so often overused... but... "1st world problems..."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:18PM (#45788427)

    Actually, they did.

    My wife works for a relatively well-known shoe/clothing manufacturer that also does direct sales (website, catalog, etc.) FedEx was warning them several days before Christmas that they predicted a delivery problem due to late orders rising faster than they predicted. Her company has an overflow agreement with UPS, so they started witching some orders to them, but then both companies hit a wall in terms of delivery capacity.

    It sounds like this was one of those problems where they both saw it coming, but couldn't do anything about it. There have been more than a few articles about FedEx in particular cutting back its container plane fleet due to fuel costs and the overall drop in package deliveries relative to a few years ago. I can only assume UPS has done the same -- when you cut back capacity in order to remain profitable, it stands to reason that a sudden, unexpected and massive surge of packages in your system is going to cause problems. And because both UPS and FedEx are for-profit, public companies, it's ultimately probably cheeper for them to suffer the ill-will and make-goods required of an event like this than to have a lot of excess capacity sitting aorund unused.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:21PM (#45788463) Homepage Journal

    That being said, having the deliveries that you paid for timely delivery of arrive a little late falls in the First World Problems category.

    Yea, still true, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't bitch - they paid for a specific service and the corporation failed to hold up their end of the bargain. UPS deserves to get hit hard for this, because they only do one thing, and they somehow failed to do that right.

    Capitalism accepts no excuses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:30PM (#45788525)

    How do you know physical objects are not The Creator? For all you know, the universe could be run by Kindle Fire HDXs, and they only chose now to manifest themselves in reality.

  • Re:Thankful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damicatz (711271) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:35PM (#45788567)

    UPS and FedEx drivers have been working 10-12+ hour days 6-7 days a week since Thanksgiving.

    Your Christmas will not be ruined because of a late package unless you value some item or trinket over spending time with your family. First world problems indeed.

  • by Deadstick (535032) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:36PM (#45788577)

    That being said, having your gifts arrive a little late falls in the First World Problems category. Get over it.

    True, but so is a corn futures contract. If you sell me one and the corn doesn't show up at the warehouse, I'm not gonna let you off the hook because you had a dry year...and Fedex/UPS should be expected to compensate their customers some way. It won't kill them to knock something off the next shipping bill.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:37PM (#45788589)
    I've been seeing commercials about a company that has solutions for this sort of thing... can't recall their name but they keep yammering on about "logistics'.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:37PM (#45788591)

    If anyone would have bothered to read either UPS's or FedEx's website, they would have seen around the 19th of December they had NO guarenteed delivery date deals. Those promises were purely from the retailers at that point. It's a shame though of course the curriers are the ones who catch the flack.
    Not to mention if people WOULDN'T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST DAMN MINUTE or get out of the house and VISIT A STORE, much of this could have been avoided. I'll admit, I ordered a few small things on the 23rd with the gift wrap and next day option from Amazon more as a test.. and all 4 items arrived by noon on the 24th. (They were shipped from an amazon DC in the same state so that surely helped).

    Hell my wife's gift from my brother didn't arrive before Chrismast (and he didn't expect it to).. no big deal. For the people who waited to order *everything* in the last few days before christmas and all of it via online.. well maybe you should have grabbed a few from the store or have done the "Ship to store" or "instore pickup" option instead. Or at the very least do what we've done before and print a picture and wrap that and just tell the person it wasn't going to arrive in time.

    Maybe I'm getting more bitter as I age but this 'I wanted it tomorrow and it didn't make it, I don't give a shit about the massive volume of items from other procrastinators like myself or the ice storms and other weather, I WANT MY SHIT IT'S THE CARRIERS FAULT!' mentality is just so damn annoying.

    Lastly, it's not always as it appears either. Over the summer I ordered an RC heliocopter for my son and did 1 day delivery so it would arrive in time for our trip to the beach. All indications on Amazon were it was in UPS's hands later that night. It didn't arrive the next day, and I kept checking the tracking info and it still appeared to be stuck in the intial location in the hands of UPS. After 3 days I called Amazon to find out what was going on, and the agent figured out UPS never had the item as THEY didn't have it either. Here the 3rd party seller or whatever that Amazon did the fulfillment and what not for (for prime and all) hadn't sent them any stock or something along those lines (could have been a complete BS store and Amazon just never packed my stuff). Either way, while the tracking info made it look like it was UPS holding up the show, it was in fact the retailer Amazon that had fucked up. It makes me wonder how many other online retailers didn't have the capacity to fill orders fast enough or were out of stock while the website still listed stock so they had to wait for more before they could box and ship, YET the shipping information was already entered into the system creating a tracking number for UPS or FedEx, which made it LOOK like the delay was on the shipping company used.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:38PM (#45788597) Homepage

    The libertarian thing to do, then, is to order many individual packages during December, with careful attention paid to the origin and destination so as to maximize the expected profit.

    The invisible hand of the free market will finally serve the consumer!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:39PM (#45788603)

    they didn't. The RETAILERS did. As of the 19th both FedEx and UPS said there was NO guarentee for a "By the 24th" delivery date, yet the retails kept that promise. The blame is getting passed onto the wrong parties

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:39PM (#45788605) Homepage Journal

    At least part of the problem is, not that UPS or other delivery companies promise you, the customer, delivery on time for Christmas. It is Amazon* and other bulk suppliers who are making these promises.

    As AC states below, UPS and Fedex were making warnings to those retail suppliers. Amazon, or whoever, didn't pass those warnings on to you, the end user.

    Do we expect that Amazon is going to make a public apology to all those children who had to wait until the day after Christmas for their presents? I don't think so. Amazon has your money, and they are going to keep as much of it as they think they can. They'll pass out a few gift certificates, and refund some shipping fees, but they are going to keep as much money as possible.

    All of my shipments came in on time.

    There IS a shipment which UPS intends to deliver today. Comparing notes, no one in the family seems to have any outstanding orders. Maybe it's a gift from one of the grandparents from several years ago? A gift from the afterlife? Oooohhh - a supernatural gift! More importantly, UPS is going a little extra to deliver whatever the package might be, by calling the house to see if anyone will be available to receive it. We have never before been contacted prior to delivery.

    Bottom line here - if you wait until the last minute to place an order, you can expect to be disappointed. Any adult should understand that. Any adult should be ready to explain it to a child. Life is life, and stuff happens. I've had late deliveries in off-peak seasons, after all.

    * I am using Amazon here as an example - replace Amazon with your motor sports supplier, or whatever.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:47PM (#45788667)

    "'I wanted it tomorrow and it didn't make it, I don't give a shit about the massive volume of items from other procrastinators like myself or the ice storms and other weather, I WANT MY SHIT IT'S THE CARRIERS FAULT!' mentality is just so damn annoying."

    Society is increasingly narcissistic. The person to whom this is a reply is correct in the statement quoted above as he explains the instant-gratification mentality he observes.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday December 26, 2013 @01:56PM (#45788767) Homepage Journal
    If you ordered a gift at the last possible second, the problem is not UPS. It's you.
  • Re:Thankful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Salgak1 (20136) <<ten.ysaekaeps> <ta> <kaglas>> on Thursday December 26, 2013 @02:25PM (#45789017) Homepage
    . . .except, of course, that it was NOT UPS (or FedEx, or DHL. . . ) that promised the 2-day shipping. The MERCHANTS did. And that's who the medium-large can'o'whoop@ss should be opened on. . .
  • by torkus (1133985) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @02:31PM (#45789049)

    So just to use your own point...if emergency rooms (i.e. critically necessary medical services largely funded by the gov't) can't provide capacity necessary for the exception-circumstance...how is it reasonable to expect FedEx or UPS to do even more? Getting a beanie boo before xmas isn't quite as important as pushing saline for a trauma victim with low BP. (though if you read the FB page for FedEx or UPS you might get the impression otherwise)

    I think the vendors deserve much of the blame here if the delivery companies were communicating with them. Heck, if Amazon posted that orders are surging this year and deliveries may be delayed for last second orders...so order RIGHT NOW. just like they do with the silly (but effective) timer for when you can last order something to get it by X day.

    What I find truly ironic - people are blaming FedEx and UPS for 'failing to plan ahead properly' when *they're* the ones ordering things at the very last second. UPS should include a small, complimentary mirror with each of these delayed packages when they're delivered.

  • by torkus (1133985) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @02:39PM (#45789103)

    The problem is the vast majority of people sending things aren't interacting with UPS or FedEx other than selecting shipping speed through xyzshopping.com

    They were told 'last day to order for xmas eve delivery is 11:59PM on Dec 23rd (or whatever) by the retailer.

    Last second shopping? Go to a freaking store people. :)

  • by geoskd (321194) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @02:50PM (#45789165)

    "But they could have I think, for a nominal fee, booked more charter flights"

    I'm afraid that extra flights, contractors, etc are just not available.

    You are entirely correct that it is a management failure. Management should have their own extra equipment, and they should have sufficient personnel already hired to operate the equipment. But, you're simply not going to find a lot of planes, trucks, and temporary personnel to contract right at Christmas.

    That extra capacity comes with a price. Are you willing to pay an extra $8 shipping on every order all year long to pay for the equipment that sits idle for 11 months out of the year?

  • Re:Thankful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2013 @03:04PM (#45789255)

    Thanks.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @03:08PM (#45789293)

    The real war on Christmas.

    The day after the birthday of the Savior what do we have as news? UPS couldn't deliver packages full of meaningless crap.

    This is so wrong.

  • by geoskd (321194) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @03:12PM (#45789335)

    'While others take vacation and time off in December, remember we aren't allowed ever to be off in December. Ever,' said a 20-year veteran UPS driver on the UPS Facebook page.

    As somone in a similar position (not career, but limited vacation-time availability), that's a career choice each person must make. If you aren't happy with it, change careers.

    And just what career do you think that a delivery driver (who I might add is not qualified to do anything requiring more than a high school diploma) is supposed to switch to? Remember, half of the people in the world have an IQ below 100 by definition. Should we just relegate all of these people to 2nd class citizen status with poverty level jobs (if any job at all)? Most of these people dont have any other options that offer any chance of paying enough to allow them to raise a family. Or is it your considered opinion that these people exist only to serve you? People like you invented slavery, and would have us return to it in the name of capitalism.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @03:16PM (#45789357)

    So just to use your own point...if emergency rooms (i.e. critically necessary medical services largely funded by the gov't) can't provide capacity necessary for the exception-circumstance...how is it reasonable to expect FedEx or UPS to do even more?

    It seems unlikely that half of FedEx and UPS board of directors are actively trying to sabotage their company for ideological reasons. The same is not true of federal government - and sadly, this sickness seems to be spreading as well as the rest of American culture.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @03:28PM (#45789477) Homepage Journal

    That extra capacity carries with it some benefits, as well as a price.

    I've some experience in trucking. I know that some companies only have enough trucks to meet commitments. Other companies have a few extra trucks sitting around the yard. I don't mean 30 or 50 percent extra capacity - but maybe 10 or 15 percent.

    What good are those trucks? Well - a driver who is coming through the yard with a truck that is due (or overdue) for maintenance can bail out of his truck, and take one of the spares to complete his run. Preventive maintenance, done on schedule, can prevent breakdowns and accidents.

    That extra 10% of vehicles can pay for itself in fairly short order, really. And, when you DO have a surge, all you need is to pick up a few temporary people to put those trucks on the road, to meet the surge. I've seen it done. We had a contract come up that required tens of thousands of tons of rebar to be moved, and all those extra trucks were put on a dedicated run to help meet the deadline.

    BTW - those extra trucks are usually older, nearly worn out vehicles that have already paid for themselves, many times over. They are still roadworthy, they are paid off, they are still insured, they still pass inspection - why get rid of them? Keep a few around for whatever emergencies might happen. They've already been depreciated, so on the books they are valueless, and cost next to nothing.

  • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Thursday December 26, 2013 @04:08PM (#45789761)

    I ordered a toy for my nephew 5 days before Christmas, with Amazon Prime 2-day GUARANTEED shipping. Right on the item page, Amazon GUARANTEED that it would arrive by Christmas. I don't hold UPS responsible. I hold responsible the vendor that made the claim. I spent my Christmas Eve driving to a Toys-R-Us 3 towns over, instead of sipping egg nog and decorating the tree.

    Congratulations on teaching a child the true meaning of Christmas.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

Working...