UPS Ruins Christmas

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My live panda didn't show up in time for Christmas. Apparently,'s (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) wave of last-minute orders overwhelmed United Parcel Service¬† (NYSE: UPS  ) , leading to missed delivery times and sad faces on Christmas (also the selling of a live panda is "illegal and immoral," or whatever). The companies have pledged to make it up to customers, though, with Amazon already offering affected shoppers a $20 gift card, a refund on shipping costs, and (let's imagine) a time machine to go back and give little Jimmy his red wagon on Christmas morning instead of Boxing Day.

Amazon's massive Christmas bonus
For a company that moves little boxes from one place to another so well, UPS' shortfall on Christmas was surprising. It's doubly surprising because Amazon is an important customer for the shipper. If the increase in Amazon Prime members is any indication, 2014 is going to be a very big year for Amazon and UPS. According to a press release from Amazon, the retailer "shipped enough items with Prime this holiday to deliver at least one gift to every household in America." 

That huge surge is probably why my panda and your kid's sled haven't shown up. UPS wasn't ready for the rush, and the company blamed the delivery failures on the combination of volume and weather. Spanning both of those issues was a timing issue, with customers waiting longer and longer to make those late purchases.

Shopper expectations
As shipping becomes faster and cheaper, shoppers are pushing out their orders more and more. Amazon's free shipping deal for Prime members is also exacerbating the issue. This year, websites of online businesses were plastered with claims about the last days for ordering in order to receive shipments by Christmas. Those deadlines set clear expectations that UPS then failed to meet.

A representative said UPS was going to "make good on its service commitments," but it was unclear on what that response would look like for customers. Amazon's quick move to refund customers' shipping fees put the retailer in a good light, and most of the blame seems to have fallen on UPS. In a worst-case scenario, Amazon would rethink its business with UPS, but that level of fallout seems unlikely.

Instead, expect Christmas 2014 to see better planning on UPS' part. For customers still awaiting package deliveries, there's not much to do but wait. Amazon should be reaching out to affected shoppers, but no gift card can bring back a Christmas morning letdown. Now if you'll excuse me, there's an animal control car parked outside, so I need to run. Please feed my panda, if you see it while I'm gone.

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Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (0)

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  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2013, at 9:42 AM, alexf wrote:

    Disagree that they "ruined Christmas". Sounds like hyperbole to me. Granted they could have done it better but there are always weather-delays at this time of year in the USA, and maybe they over-promised. The same goes for Amazon where they promise to deliver by Christmas if you click 10 minutes before the day. Talk about over-promising.

    Let's also not forget the public is also to blame. Perennial procrastinators shop at the last minute and expect to have all deliveries in time. Buy a week earlier and you will see them come by the deadline, so don't complain.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2013, at 10:15 AM, tcso447 wrote:

    UPS did the best they could, even renting uhauls to deliver. I was one of the ones effected but no big deal. UPS is great on deliveries for me. I live in the country and my house is hard to find but UPS knows it well and if a new driver comes out they ask the old driver or call me for directions. Fedex on the other hand did not do well or does well where I live. They dont call and most of my packages are a few days late and traking says business closed or customer not home. Well I am home waiting on my package (or wife) why did you not call me. They were late with a pakage from walmart who did the same promise, the package was on the truck for delivery and then at 1600 it say delivery not attemted. Really?? UPS told me what happened, the truck from Oklahoma City arrived late and they were not able to get it unloaded before the delivery trucks left...OK. Fedex said they had know idea what happened. So all this bashing on UPS needs to stop, like the other comment said dont wait last minute. The delivery from ups was last minute (mon) and paind for overnite delivery and they refunded the delivery fee. So I am not upset by that. The delivery from fedex was order a week prior.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2013, at 3:00 PM, mickijay wrote:

    I must agree with the previous comment, I ordered from Kohls 3 weeks ago and ran into the same thing with FedEx, a comment on their tracking page stating "delayed due to weather", while the package was sitting in a warehouse 30 miles from my home and it was 60* here in NEPA, the best weather we have seen in December in years. UPS however can find me out here in the sticks, they know right where to leave the packages and rain, snow,sleet or hail...they get it here. I am very disappointed with FedEx.

    As for overnight delivery...really people get it together, it is Christmas.. not a magic show. Don't expect someone to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Not what this Holiday is about.

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