There yet? UPS, FedEx moving Christmas packages late

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(CNN) — UPS has trucks up and running Thursday — and hopes that holiday cheer may assuage the frustrations of angry customers.

The shipping giant’s backlog left some Americans with gifts missing from under the Christmas tree Wednesday.

“We’re terribly sorry,” spokeswoman Natalie Black told CNN.

UPS wasn’t alone. FedEx was late with some deliveries as well.

“We’re sorry that there could be delaysand we’re contacting affected customers who have shipments available for pickup,” FedEx spokesman Scott Fiedler told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Reached by CNN on Thursday, FedEx wasn’t commenting on any delays. “Our 300,000 team members were focused on safely delivering our customers packages this holiday seasonand we are proud of their efforts,” Fiedler said in a statement.

The U.S. Postal Service had no immediate comment on whether it experienced any similar delays. When asked for comment, postal spokeswoman Zy Richardson said in an e-mail, “We take great pride in delivering packages for our customers in time for their holiday. … Our carriers continued to deliver mail on Christmas Day, in many locations, to make sure everyone enjoyed their holiday.”

UPS did some package sorting Wednesday, but the company stuck to its plan to make no deliveries on Christmas, giving drivers a break after doing a lot of Sunday special deliveries.

Both UPS and FedEx noted they were handling hundreds of millions of shipments in a compressed holiday shopping time frame, because Thanksgiving was later than usual this year.

FedEx is projected to handle 275 million shipments, and “operated with very high service levels — over 99% at FedEx Ground, for example — during our busiest time of the year,” Fiedler’s statement said.

Black, at UPS, said that last week, during the peak of shipping season, “we projected to deliver more than 132 million packages.”

The company got more air shipments than it expected and was already dealing with a backlog from previous severe weather in the Dallas area, Black said.

“Thanks for totally screwing us AND lying about it all day,” customer Mo Husseini posted on Twitter in response to a UPS tweet.

“We know how hard it is for everyone to receive their holiday packages, and we’re working around the clock to resolve this issue,” Black said Wednesday.

On the company’s Facebook page, Melissa Gilbreath wrote that she ordered her sons’ gifts on December 9, but the packages have sat in Fort Worth, Texas, since December 18. “I realize it is not about the gifts but that is part of Christmas,” she wrote.

But the Facebook page is also filled with messages from people who say they are UPS employees and proud of their work and the company. “We all work really hard and I think people have too high of expectations,” Misty Fulton wrote.

Amazon responds

Online retailers who promised customers delivery in time for Christmas are damaged by UPS’ problems.

Some customers received messages from alerting them of the “failure in the UPS transportation network.” In the message, the company offered to refund shipping charges and provide gift cards.

“Amazon fulfillment centers processed and tendered customer orders to delivery carriers on time for holiday delivery,” spokeswoman Mary Osako told CNN. “We are reviewing the performance of the delivery carriers.”

“We have a relationship with Amazon. We will definitely work with all of our retailers,” Black said. “We’re going to make good on our service commitments. What that exactly entails I don’t know, but we’ll work with them to maintain that relationship.”

After January 2, the day the industry processes returns of holiday gifts, the company will examine what happened and gauge its contingency planning and losses, she said.

Weather has caused delays in previous years. Technical glitches have as well, but Black said it’s been “quite some time” since that happened.

Medicine didn’t arrive

The backlog isn’t just affecting Christmas presents.

The Warren family of Heath, Texas, had to go a few days without special medicine their 14-year-old son needs in order to eat. “It was just sitting” at a UPS outlet in Mesquite, where the family finally picked it up, Patrick Warren told CNN affiliate WFAA-TV on Tuesday.

“People are really upset in there. They have security guards,” one woman outside the UPS distribution center in Fort Worth told WFAA.

CNN’s Lateef Mungin, Ryan Rios and Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


  • ByeByeToTheRite

    The problem here isn’t with workers – as usual with 1000% of America’s problems. The problem is with a) overly aggressive management, and b) overly assertive customers. First, UPS and FedEx shouldn’t promise what they can’t deliver (literally) witih their current staffing. Either hire more, good help (hard to find and do) or just tell the truth, which I know is difficult for pompous executive types who think they can get anybody to do anything with a charmful smile. And people shouldn’t be such lazy yet demanding customers – if you want yer stinkin’ present by the 24th, then order before the 23rd – we can probably imagine the type of people who buy on the 23rd and DEMAND it gets there the next day; I’d say Tea Party people, likely – demanding yet lazy. These are the same folks who shopped at Walgreens on the 25th – completely inconsiderate of anybody but their own pious selves, a typical conservative trait. So, don’t expect me to care if your mom had to “wait at home all day” for her present that never arrived – there are more serious problems in the world – llike that attitude.

  • Buddy

    At least UPS, FED EX and AMAZON were giving refunds on shipping. I think that shows they know they screwed up, and are genuinely sorry.

    We shipped with the US Postal service. Express two day something or other.. Not guaranteed apparently. We expected a week or so to be honest. We were realistic! The USPS however, screwed it up, and sent the package to a totally different town and let it sit in somone elses’ post office box for over a week! When we tracked the package, it was slated as “ready for pick up” in a town nowhere near where it was supposed to be. A few phone calls later, and they apologized for the inconvience, and told me there were NO refunds on shipping with the USPS.

    • TK

      That is the difference between a government run business and a private business….. Just a glimpse into our future!

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