UPS acknowledged getting swamped by the seasonal cheer and failing to deliver thousands of orders in time for Christmas.
“The volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity in our network,” UPS spokeswoman Natalie Godwin said in a statement.
Now, even as the company is lionized on the holiday cover of Bloomberg Businessweek for making “dreams come true”, customers are streaming online to pummel the shipping giant.
For some of the customers the void under the tree came despite days of phone-and-Web wrangling with UPS customer service. In Houston, the Amaya family toggled between tracking their package online and waiting by the door for UPS to arrive. But after 10 days and two delays, they finally gave up hope.
Christmas is about more than just stuff, many posters acknowledged, but even some of the smaller, more symbolic gifts of Christmas got lost in transit.
“UPS understands the importance of your holiday shipments,” the company said in a Christmas Day statement on its website.
“However, the volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity of our network immediately preceding Christmas so some shipments were delayed.”
UPS acknowledged getting swamped by the seasonal cheer and failing to deliver thousands of orders in time for Christmas
Amazon.com, one of UPS’s biggest clients, cited UPS’s “failure” in an apologetic email to customers Wednesday morning. UPS itself is on a condolences tour, telling NBC in a statement that only “a small percentage” of packages were affected and pledging that most of these will arrive by Thursday.
The last time a significant number of UPS packages were late for Christmas was 2004, when an ice storm crippled Worldport, the UPS distribution center in Louisville, Kentucky, in the run up to the holiday. Back then employees ended up manually loading packages for days, and surprising revelers with Christmas Day deliveries. This year the company declined to call its workers in for holiday service.
It’s still unclear where the UPS network broke down, and the company has declined to specify the size of the problem. But Bloomberg Businessweek detailed the challenges likely to have stymied Santa’s corporate helper this year – and spotlighted the man who may take a fall for the year’s mishaps.
Scott Abell is known as “Mr. Peak” to the brown-shirted faithful, and he spends his whole work year outlining the company’s holiday delivery plans, scrambling hundreds of planes and thousands of trucks from his office at Worldport.
Beyond icy weather, which reportedly hampered UPS distribution hubs, the company was likely squeezed by a smaller window for holiday shopping and a record number of e-purchases being pushed through at the last minute. There were just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At the same time, there was the continued growth of online shopping, which not only facilitates last-minute gifting but often rewards it with deeper discounts.
Online spending jumped 9%, to $37.8 billion, between November 1st and December 15th, according to the online research firm comScore, and retailers expect overall holiday sales to be up nearly 4%, exceeding $600 million.
UPS anticipated delivering 132 million bundles in the week before Christmas, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, and to meet that wave of holiday cheer, Scott Abell organized 55,000 part time workers, 23 extra planes and what amounts to a second fleet of delivery trucks.
A last-minute decision by one of UPS’s clients – reportedly Amazon.com – dumped additional packages into the system last weekend, but Scott Abell doubled the number of shifts at Worldport, still hoping to stay ahead. It wasn’t enough.
Scott Abell usually heads to Florida in January to play golf and decompress after the madness of the holidays. When he returns, the 31-year veteran of the company gathers his lieutenants for a special lemon session, detailing all that could have gone better in the weeks before.
World’s largest online retailer Amazon has announced it is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers.
The drones, called Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 5 lbs to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said.
However, Jeff Bezos added that it could take up to five years for the service to start.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is yet to approve the use of unmanned drones for civilian purposes.
“I know this looks like science fiction, but it’s not,” Jeff Bezos told CBS’ 60 Minutes.
“We can do half-hour delivery… and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds, which covers 86% of the items that we deliver.”
The service will be called Prime Air and comes as Amazon is looking to improve its efficiency to boost growth.
Amazon also posted a video on its website showing a drone picking up a package from one of its warehouses and delivering it to the doorstep of a customer’s house.
However, it still has to wait for permission from US regulators.
Amazon has announced it is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers
The FAA has approved the use of drones for police and government agencies, issuing about 1,400 permits over the past several years.
Civilian air space is expected to be opened up to all kinds of drones in the US by 2015 and in Europe by 2016.
Existing regulations are in place to minimise the risk of injury to people on the ground, said Dr Darren Ansell, an expert on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) from the University of Central Lancashire.
“The UAVs do not currently have the awareness of their environment to be able to avoid flying into people. To deliver goods to people’s homes for example in residential areas, the UAVs must overfly densely populated towns and cities, something that today’s regulations prevent.
“Other things to consider are security of the goods during the transit. With no one to guard them the aircraft and package could be captured and stolen,” he said.
Amazon said: “From a technology point of view, we’ll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place.”
The FAA was “actively working on rules for unmanned aerial vehicles”, the company said, adding that it hoped the green light would be given as early as 2015.
“One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today.”
Zookal, an Australian textbook rental company, announced earlier this year that it would start using drones to make deliveries from 2015 if approved by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Australian law allows the use of unmanned aircraft for commercial use.
A bill to support independent bookstores against competition from online retailers has been approved in France.
The new laws will restrict companies like Amazon from combining offers of 5% discounts with free deliveries.
France’s 3,000 independent bookshops have complained that they can’t compete with the cut-price offers online.
The new laws will restrict companies like Amazon from combining offers of 5 percent discounts with free deliveries
The opposition right-wing party UMP proposed the bill, but it also has the support of the left.
It has been approved by the lower house and will now be sent to the Senate.
French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti has criticized Amazon’s practices in the past, particularly free deliveries or its policy of “tax optimization.”
Amazon insists the arrangement is legal under the European Union’s single market rules.
In June, Aurelie Filippetti said: “Today, everyone has had enough of Amazon, which, by dumping, slashes prices to get a foothold in markets only to raise them once they have established a virtual monopoly.”
France is known for being proud of its local stores, considering them essential to bring culture to small villages.