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Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« on: December 25, 2013, 07:25:30 PM »
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/shipping-overload-leaves-many-christmas-giftless-2013-12-25

 Dec. 25, 2013, 11:39 a.m. EST
Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless

 By Shelly Banjo

Many shoppers are blaming online retailers for stealing Christmas.

Companies from Amazon.com Inc. to Kohl's Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. promised to deliver items from headphones to television sets before Christmas, but shipping delays left gift-givers across the country without anything to put under the tree.

On Christmas Eve, Brandon Scott was still waiting for a 46-inch Samsung TV and Kate Spade watch he ordered from Amazon on Saturday.

"I'm frustrated because these items could have easily been purchased at various retailers in my area, something I would have gladly done had Amazon not guaranteed' their arrival before Christmas," said Mr. Scott of Ann Arbor, Mich.

An unexpected surge of online orders in the past few weeks appears to have strained the limits of delivery and fulfillment infrastructure at retailers and parcel carriers. While instances of bad weather, Web glitches and late deliveries from manufacturers also played a part, the sheer volume may have been the problem, according to retail analysts.

United Parcel Service Inc. determined late Tuesday that it wouldn't be able to get some goods to customers in time for Christmas, as a spike in last-minute shopping demand overwhelmed its system.

"The volume of air packages in the UPS system did exceed capacity as demand was much greater than our forecast," spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said in response to questions. UPS delivers around 45% of U.S. packages and saw more shipments enter its air network on Monday than the 7.75 million it expected.

In notifications to some Amazon customers, though, UPS also seemed to blame the e-commerce giant for some of its troubles, saying shipping delays were because it had "not yet received the package from the shipper."

Having pushed delivery deadlines even later this year, some merchants weren't ready for the jump in online orders that came in the last few weeks of December, said Eric Best, chief executive of Mercent Corp., which helps facilitate online sales for more than 550 retailers.

"During the holidays, we reach the limits on the capacity of these retailers," Mr. Best said. "It's a double whammy for conservative retailers, which have been burned by excess inventory in the past, and underestimated demand."

After years of losing sales to online competitors, retailers have invested heavily in infrastructure to support Web sales and this year made aggressive promises for delivery by Christmas. Last-minute shoppers responded. During the last shopping weekend before Christmas, Web sales jumped by 37% from the year before, according to IBM Digital Analytics. Market research firm Forrester Research expects online sales to increase by 15% this holiday season amid slow mall traffic and weak sales at brick-and-mortar retailers.

In Alexander City, Ala., Kohl's shopper Andi Burks grumbled over the realization she wouldn't be able to give her husband the sweaters Ms. Burks had ordered on Dec. 19, a day before the cutoff for "guaranteed Christmas delivery."

"I thought that since they had stated on their website that it was guaranteed to arrive on time that I would be OK," she said referring to Kohl's. "Apparently I was wrong."

Kohl's said on Tuesday it would pay the full cost of all items not delivered in time. "We are deeply sorry for disappointing our customers expecting delivery in time for Christmas," spokeswoman Jen Johnson said.

Groupon Inc. sent customers an email this week suggesting they print out a picture of their present in lieu of the promised on-time delivery of the actual gift, as well as a $25 gift certificate. "We know it doesn't make up for the disappointment of not getting your item in time for the holidays," the email said.

The deals site "successfully fulfilled and delivered an overwhelming majority of orders," said spokesman Nicholas Halliwell.

It is unclear how widespread the delays were or which retailers suffered the most problems. Weather delays, mislabeled packages, and even errors by customers entering their own delivery information can cause delays.

Kohl's, Wal-Mart and UPS said a small percentage of customers experienced delays but declined to elaborate on how many people were affected. Amazon said it was unaware of major shipping delays.

Typically, about 15% of online shoppers who order items by retailers' specified cutoff dates don't get their packages by Christmas Eve, Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said. But with more gifts being shipped in the mail, the volume of errors is likely to rise, even if the percentage doesn't.

UPS, which handled more than 500 million packages during last year's peak period, was expecting an 8% rise in volumes this year. The U.S. Postal Service, meanwhile, said it expected to ship a record 420 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year's, an increase of 12% from last year. The Postal Service in some cases plans to deliver on Christmas Day itself.

"We've heard more noise about shipping problems this year than usual," said Chris Saridakis, president of eBay Enterprise, which handles shipping for more than 70 retailers including Toys "R" Us Inc. and AĆ©ropostale Inc.

Part of the problem is handling an increased number of orders in a shorter time frame, given that there were six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

"These retailers just don't have enough labor," Mr. Saridakis said, noting that while most of the distribution centers are automated, "you still need people to pack and unpack boxes."

Retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart have been building more fulfillment centers and other infrastructure to handle surging online orders. This year, Amazon hired 70,000 seasonal workers for its U.S. warehouses, a 40% increase from the year before.

To ease pressures on possible shipping bottlenecks, many retail chains have promoted the option to pick up items purchased online inside stores. That plan might have backfired for companies like Wal-Mart, where dozens of customers complained that items weren't available for pickup in stores by the promised date.

The problem seemed to be biggest for customers who had lined up for hours during Thanksgiving weekend to get special deals on popular televisions and tablets.

As part of Wal-Mart's Black Friday promises, shoppers who lined up for the best door-buster deals were told that if the store ran out of stock, then the items they paid for would be available for store pickup by Dec. 22. But in some cases, the items weren't available and shoppers jammed customer-service phone lines and took to Facebook and Twitter to gripe at the retailer.

Wal-Mart said the issue affected only a small percentage of the five million people who took part in its one-hour guarantee promotion.

But by Christmas Eve, it was too late for some customers like Terence Kavanaugh in Louisville, Ky.

After losing hope on getting the $98 Emerson television he bought his 9-year-old daughter at Wal-Mart over Thanksgiving weekend, he went to Best Buy and bought a second TV for $179.

"It's more expensive but I'm not going to let Wal-Mart ruin my daughter's Christmas," he said.

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Offline Atomic Cow

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2013, 08:04:13 PM »
UPS hasn't been able to pull their head out of their rear in the DFW and OKC area for 3 week snow.  I still have about 20 drop ships to my customers that are sitting in Dallas, with each day having an exception due to "Weather Delay" or the occasional "Left at a UPS Facility" excuse.  Now with most government offices and schools closed, it is causing us even more havoc.

FedEx mostly cleared their backlog after the ice storm in less than a week, but UPS still cannot figure it out.
"...And these atomic bombs which science burst upon the world that night were strange, even to the men who used them."  H. G. Wells, The World Set Free, 1914

"The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections." -Lord Acton

Offline raml

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2013, 08:17:39 PM »
There were both snow and ice storms across the nation and anyone who on Saturday ordered online really doesn't have any common sense. I could care less what was being advertized I never go by what the retailer says I go by what is smart and practical. Counting on purchases getting to you before Christmas when ordering during the last week before it is taking a great chance it won't be there Christmas morning. I blame the customer not the retailer. So if you want Christmas on Christmas use common sense and make sure all presents are in your home by doing in store shopping the last two weeks before Christmas and do any online when you can be sure it actually will get to you long before last minute rush.

Offline Atomic Cow

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2013, 08:22:02 PM »
I still have packages sitting in the UPS hub in Dallas that shipped from the vendor 2-3 days before the ice storm on the weekend of the 7th hit DFW.

My company has a lot of hacked off clients because UPS can't do their job.
"...And these atomic bombs which science burst upon the world that night were strange, even to the men who used them."  H. G. Wells, The World Set Free, 1914

"The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections." -Lord Acton

Offline SouthTexas

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2013, 09:14:57 PM »
UPS hasn't been able to pull their head out of their rear in the DFW and OKC area for 3 week snow.  I still have about 20 drop ships to my customers that are sitting in Dallas, with each day having an exception due to "Weather Delay" or the occasional "Left at a UPS Facility" excuse.  Now with most government offices and schools closed, it is causing us even more havoc.

FedEx mostly cleared their backlog after the ice storm in less than a week, but UPS still cannot figure it out.

I've had issues with both of them for years,  I think at times they are trying to compete with the USPS screw ups.

Offline LambChop

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2013, 09:32:32 PM »
I've had issues with both of them for years,  I think at times they are trying to compete with the USPS screw ups.


HHMMMM.  Those "USPS screw ups" have delivered all my packages on time or before, and I have happy customers.  Some shipments were due Christmas Eve, but managed to be delivered Monday.

Offline Atomic Cow

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2013, 09:39:56 PM »
I've had issues with both of them for years,  I think at times they are trying to compete with the USPS screw ups.

My company uses FedEx and except for the occasional mis-routed or lost package, we've been very satisfied with their service.

FedEx is also one of the few large US companies not in bed with Democrats.
"...And these atomic bombs which science burst upon the world that night were strange, even to the men who used them."  H. G. Wells, The World Set Free, 1914

"The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections." -Lord Acton

Offline SouthTexas

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2013, 10:36:08 PM »

HHMMMM.  Those "USPS screw ups" have delivered all my packages on time or before, and I have happy customers.  Some shipments were due Christmas Eve, but managed to be delivered Monday.

Good for you!  I haven't had such luck with them.

Offline SouthTexas

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2013, 10:38:51 PM »
My company uses FedEx and except for the occasional mis-routed or lost package, we've been very satisfied with their service.

FedEx is also one of the few large US companies not in bed with Democrats.

Several years ago we tried both to overnight payroll to a jobsite.  Both consistently failed to deliver on time. 

Offline olde north church

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2013, 06:09:48 AM »
Do you remember the first FedEx TV ads, "When it absolutely, POSITIVELY has to get there overnight.", and the delivery guy is looking in the boarded windows of a shutdown business, two days later?

Why?  Well, because I'm a bastard, that's why.

Online mountaineer

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2013, 08:42:12 AM »
Quote
On Christmas Eve, Brandon Scott was still waiting for a 46-inch Samsung TV and Kate Spade watch he ordered from Amazon on Saturday.

"I'm frustrated because these items could have easily been purchased at various retailers in my area, something I would have gladly done had Amazon not guaranteed' their arrival before Christmas," said Mr. Scott of Ann Arbor, Mich.
There's a novel concept: supporting your local merchants.
The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.
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Offline Lipstick on a Hillary

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2013, 09:14:05 AM »
My company uses FedEx and except for the occasional mis-routed or lost package, we've been very satisfied with their service.

FedEx is also one of the few large US companies not in bed with Democrats.

Really?  That's good to know.  My local FedEx guy is a rabid conservative.  He doesn't share that with customers unless he sees something that tips him off--like a derogatory Obama sticker on my car.  :laugh:

I met a conservative woman from my town recently, and we got to talking about our FedEx guy.  She said he told her if our citizenry ever needed to rise up against govt--come to his house--HE will watch out for us!

Sorry for taking this thread off topic-but wanted to share that!

Offline happyg

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2013, 09:20:01 AM »
A lot of the overload was probably due to the bad weather, so people decided to shop online, which bogged down the system. Besides, why wait so late to order important gifts, such as televisions?


Offline SouthTexas

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2013, 09:39:48 AM »
A lot of the overload was probably due to the bad weather, so people decided to shop online, which bogged down the system. Besides, why wait so late to order important gifts, such as televisions?

Thought of this last night after I shutdown, the shippers get blamed for a lot that actually falls on the manufacturers or stores.   They can't very well deliver something they haven't received yet.

Offline Chieftain

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Re: Shipping overload leaves many Christmas giftless
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2013, 09:53:34 AM »
My wife sent our package to the kids in Texas last week, UPS picked it up on Thursday with a delivery of Monday.  They finally delivered it Tuesday night at ten after nine. 

Interestingly, our daughter sent us a package last week and mailed it on Friday, and we received it on Monday afternoon.

I can certainly believe that Amazon is capable of completely overwhelming UPS like this, and I am amazed they didn't do the same thing to Fedex and the USPS.  But ultimately this is the doing of the Me-llenials who expect things to happen instantly, and who have become so depersonalized from human to human contact that they do all of their last minute "shopping" via smartphone and Amazon.  You don't even have to wrap your gifts or even find a card.  E-Christmas cards are quickly replacing real Christmas cards, not in small part because it is so difficult for many people to hand write anything.

UPS is a symptom.







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