A UPS truck arrives for a delivery in Miami Springs, Fla., in January.(Photo: Alan Diaz, AP)
Updated 5:50 p.m.
Social media exploded on Christmas with complaints about UPS and FedEx from customers furious about empty spots under their trees.
Most complaints were directed at UPS, which issued statements on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Day acknowledging that the company was overwhelmed by unexpected volume and some packages were delayed until after the holiday.
Barry Tesh, 52, of Jacksonville, Fla., said in an interview, "A lot of these employees keep saying 'It's the weather' or 'It's some kind of a backlog.' 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."
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UPS and FedEx did not respond to phone calls and e-mails seeking comment on Christmas Day.
"This has been the worst Christmas ever," said Larry Ledet, 55, of Houston, who has been a UPS driver for 27 years. He made 337 stops and delivered 505 packages Monday.
Even though Ledet and other UPS drivers have been pulling 60-hour weeks, thousands of holiday gifts didn't arrive by Christmas.
UPS normally delivers 16.3 million packages and documents, 2.3 million by air, every day. Those numbers soar around the holidays.
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A statement issued Wednesday said, "UPS understands the importance of your holiday shipments. UPS is experiencing heavy holiday volume and making every effort to get packages to their destination."
UPS spokeswoman Natalie Goodwin said on Christmas Eve that "a small percentage of shipments are delayed and will not be delivered today."
Mike Reynolds, 43, of Martinez, Calif., said UPS' biggest mistake wasn't the delivery delay -- it was that statement.
"They said 'a small percentage,' and that was insulting as a customer. It made me feel marginalized," Reynolds said. "My mother stayed home last night waiting for packages to come in. She just waited and waited and waited, and it never happened. She missed out on the festivities."
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UPS elected not to ask employees to work on Christmas.
Christopher Le, 34, of Moore, Okla., is still waiting for UPS packages, but he says it's not a problem.
"It's really easy to sit behind the internet and bash UPS," Le says. "People forget it's not just a corporation -- it's people, too. I am proud that they made the decision to let their employees take off and spend Christmas with their families rather than make them come in because people were angry about their presents. The holiday season is about family."
On Facebook, there has been an outpouring of support for the "Santa's helpers in brown" along with criticism for UPS administrators.
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Angela Lemond, 42, of Allen, Texas, placed an order with Amazon, which guaranteed delivery on Dec. 23. Now her packages won't arrive until at least Dec. 26.
"I feel bad because I see that UPS workers are being worked to the bone," Lemond says. "There is something that needs to be done higher up. They shouldn't be promising something they can't deliver."
As for UPS workers, "We are doing the best we can," Ledet says of his UPS colleagues. "I am sure I'll be working until 10 pm tomorrow."
PACKAGE DELAYS ON THE FIRST COAST
In Jacksonville, Maria Cole told First Coast News she ordered a gift for her husband to be sent via UPS before Christmas. She said she ordered the gift in time for it to arrive by Christmas.
"It was supposed to be delivered on Christmas Eve. They guaranteed that to me, but it didn't happen. But, it's OK," she said.
Thursday morning, Cole said she was still waiting.
"I'm upset, but I guess, in a way. It tells me I need to start shopping a little earlier," she said.
Pamela Sanderson said she too was waiting on a gift that was supposed to arrive via UPS on December 23. She said the order was rescheduled for delivery on December 24th.
"If the shippers are blaming weather for creating a backlog they couldn't overcome, then why didn't they say something earlier? It was sad giving my son a printout of the order instead of the gift," she told FCN. "He's old enough to understand but it seems like it didn't have to happen. I think the shipping companies got greedy and over-committed ... but under-delivered!"
Despite delays, Manuel Hirezi said his FedEx package arrived on Thursday as scheduled.
"As a consumer, I think everything turned out perfectly. All my packages came on time. I think what happened with the weather up north, is clearing up."
On the FCN Facebook page, several people sounded off and reacted negatively to the UPS and FedEx delays. Many people were also in support of both UPS and FedEx.
Thursday afternoon, A UPS spokesperson issued a statement to First Coast News saying:
"UPS apologizes to both shipping and receiving customers who may have delays. We had additional sorting operations at Worldport, the UPS international air hub in Louisville, KY, on Christmas and are making deliveries and pickups today. We expect all excess volume to be delivered today or tomorrow. Customers should continue to access UPS.com for the most updated information."
Thursday morning, FedEx spokesperson, Bonnie Kourvelas, also issued a statement to FCN saying:
"Our 300,000 team members were focused on safely delivering our customers' packages this holiday season and we are proud of their efforts. The fact is, FedEx was projected to handle 275 million shipments in this shortened holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we operated with very high service levels - over 99% at FedEx Ground, for example - during our busiest time of the year. Customers with questions about their shipments should contact (800) GO-FEDEX."
Kourvelas added that FedEx counters were open on Christmas Day for customers to pick up packages
"The entire network is working hard today to get everything delivered," she said.
First Coast News contributed to this story
Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY