Holiday shoppers took a hit in 2013 when stormy weather right around Christmas resulted in tens of thousands of shoppers not being able to get packages to their intended destinations on time. Not only was it disastrous for shoppers, but retailers took a hit, also.
If shoppers and retailers don’t want a repeat of last year’s Christmas nightmare, package deliverer UPS surely is banking on better delivery results. The company was barraged by criticism last year when the company failed in delivering thousands of packages by Christmas Eve. Brown insists it’s well-prepared to make this a merrier Christmas in 2014, even as increased online shopping is likely to put greater strain on the company and its rivals.
UPS is trumpeting the $1 billion in facility, vehicle and personnel investments it has made worldwide as reason for customers to be confident that Santa will get their gifts to good little boys and girls (along with grown-up goods) on time. UPS officials stress that the upgrades have been made with an eye toward positioning their business beyond this holiday season. The company has also added to its season workforce, upping numbers 12%, to 95,000. Rival FedEx has boosted seasonal hires 25%, to 50,000. And even the U.S. Postal Service has delivery every day of the week through Christmas Day.
Yesterday was considered the busiest mailing day, and UPS indicates that its processing centers will be at their peak of its holiday shipping season, one in which it estimates it will handle about 585 million packages. The following Monday before Christmas will be UPS’ busiest delivery day—the shipping giant will move about 34 million packages worldwide.
I remember last year well. I was working on the phones at a major retailer’s phone center. Customers were cranky and weather woes made it impossible for me to guarantee packages would make it by Christmas day, upon information provided by both UPS and FedEx. Of course, the customers on the other end of the phone expected me, Mr. $12-an-hour-seasonal-phone-rep to play God (or Santa) and tell them that planes would be able to fly through snowstorms and trucks could make it across the frozen tundra of the Midwest. Telling them the truth merely drew their ire.
While I might not be able to afford to put as many packages under our Christmas tree this year, it’s a happier holiday season for this freelancer in 2014, as I’m not pulling any moonlighting duties on the phones for the first time in three years.