UPS, FedEx scrambling to deliver delayed Christmas packages

By Michael Anderson

By Associated Press

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Dec. 26 2013 1:20 p.m. MST

A UPS truck in West Valley City Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, heads out to deliver packages, some of which were supposed to be delivered in time for Christmas.

Derek Petersen, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

SALT LAKE CITY — Both UPS and FedEx are trying to catch up with a Christmas backlog as thousands of people, many here in Utah, are still waiting on holiday packages.

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, as consumers purchased more online and some shoppers waited until the last minute.

But some people placed their orders very early in the month.

“I ordered something Dec. 2 for my brother from Texas,” said Salt Lake Community College student Jake Gisseman on Thursday. “He’s in town today, so hopefully it gets here pretty soon.”

Amazon shipped the package Dec. 4.

“It’s kind of hard to understand where it is right now,” Gisseman said.

“I guess I understand that it’s the holiday season and (what) comes with it, but what can you do?” Gisseman said.

Clarisse Offen placed her orders on Dec. 10, paid for two-day delivery and thought it would arrive a little late, but not as late as it did. They arrived on Christmas Eve at 10 p.m.

“Two guys, just running around, dropping things off, and I felt horrible,” she said. “We chased after them, gave them a plate of food to wish them a Merry Christmas, and we were hoping they were heading home, but they sounded like they still had a lot of deliveries to do.”

Offen said didn’t expect the delivery people to be working so hard, so late. “Had I known that, I would have just gone to a little shop locally,” she said.

Herold Hensley, of West Jordan, said he went to UPS every day for the past four days trying to get the items he ordered at the beginning of the month.

“I ordered this stuff early enough that I could do what I wanted to do for Christmas,” Hensley said.

He was told they're stuck on the back of a truck and might be available Friday.

UPS Inc. issued a statement on Thursday, apologizing to both shipping and receiving customers for any delays. But one mother said it was too late for an apology because the global package delivery company already ruined her family's Christmas.

Nicole Cintrom of Herriman waited for UPS to deliver a state-issued benefits debit card for three weeks. She blames the fact that UPS lost the package three times for the presents that were missing under her tree this year.

"They (my children) had nothing for Christmas because this debit card is the only thing linked to my account," Cintrom said. "There is really nothing you can do. You can't tell a 2-year-old Santa didn't come."

UPS trucks are out in full force trying to deliver a backlog of packages that were supposed to be delivered by Christmas morning.

“We apologize that our customers did not receive their packages on Christmas," said Natalie Godwin, a spokeswoman for United Parcel Service Inc.

Godwin said snow and ice in the Midwest last week and an ice storm that hit Dallas two-and-a-half weeks ago were partially to blame. She also said the volume of packages shipped exceeded the capacity of UPS but would not share the number of packages shipped or what the company's maximum capacity is.

UPS did not make pickups or deliveries Wednesday. Extra workers were being brought in Wednesday night to the company's hub in Louisville, Ky., to sort packages for Thursday and Friday delivery, according to Godwin.

Godwin said that UPS will honor its peak shipments commitments to customers who used its air delivery service. Those shipping by ground have no guarantee past Dec. 11. Godwin said she didn't know if customers would receive refunds.

However, some FedEx customers were 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 Corp.

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

Amazon.com 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."

Contributing: Shara Park

Email: manderson@deseretnews.com

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