MILLEDGEVILLE — Many last-minute shoppers and holiday shippers across the country expecting to have their packages arrive to loved ones by Christmas were disappointed as poor weather and overloaded systems caused delays for UPS and FedEx carriers.
Customers who shipped packages from The UPS Store of Milledgeville using the 2nd Day Air Service by Friday, Dec. 20 and Next Day Air Service by Monday, Dec. 23 were guaranteed to have their packages arrive by Christmas, but that was not the case for a few local shippers.
“If a package shipped using an air service did not arrive on time due to a weather-related issue, customers will not receive a guaranteed service refund. If it was a UPS error, then we will be able to help locate it and refund the entire shipping cost if it was shipped from our local store,” said Andy Patel, owner of The UPS Store in Milledgeville Friday. “Please let us know if you shipped with us using an air service and your package did not make it in time for Christmas; we’re willing to investigate the issue and possibly reimburse you.”
An employee of the Ship Or Sell store located near Kroger said they experienced no issues or complaints. The store is an authorized FedEx shipping center.
Heavy spending in the final days of the mostly lackluster season sent sales up 3.5 percent between Nov. 1 and Tuesday, Dec. 24, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, which tracks payments but doesn’t give dollar figures.
Online shopping led the uptick, with spending up 10 percent to $38.9 billion between Nov. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 22, research firm comScore said.
Analysts say FedEx and UPS typically work closely with big retailers to get a sense of the volume of packages they’ll handle during peak times like the holiday season. Extra flights, trucks and seasonal workers can be added if the projections are large. Extra workers were being brought in Christmas night to the company’s hub in Louisville, Ky. to sort packages for Thursday and Friday delivery.
This year, weather played a role. Snow and ice in the Midwest last week and an ice storm that hit Dallas two-and-a-half weeks ago could have hurt operations. That caused packages to start accumulating which got compounded by a late surge in shipments.
Another problem was the growing popularity of retailers offering free shipping. Amazon, for one, has a two-day free shipping offer that comes with its $79 annual Prime membership. The company said in the third week of December alone, more than 1 million people signed up for the membership.
Amazon is offering customers with delayed shipments a refund on their shipping charges and $20 toward a future purchase. Other retailers such as Macy’s said they are looking into the situation.
UPS and FedEx did not quantify how many packages were affected but said they were just a small fraction of total holiday deliveries.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, FedEx handled 275 million shipments.
For more information about a shipped Christmas package that has not yet arrived call the local UPS Store at 478-804-0134, or UPS customer service at 1-800-PICK-UPS (1-800-742-5877). For questions regarding a FedEx shipment, call the local Ship or Sell store at 478-453-7447, or FedEx customer service at 1-800-GoFedEx (1-800-463-3339).
-The Associated Press contributed to this report.