UPS was hopeful it could complete deliveries by late Friday.
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - UPS officials concede they under-estimated the number of customers who expected delivery by Christmas, guaranteed. But one Kentucky retailer, e-tailer and UPS customer believes the bulk of the blame belongs to shippers and customers themselves.
A Taste of Kentucky hasn't put all its goodies in one basket, figuratively speaking, but stores owner John Hassmann has shipped the bulk of 40,000 customer orders of Kentucky-centric products through UPS.
"I don't think it's (the Christmas deliveries missed) their fault," Hassmann said Friday. "It's just the situation they got caught in. We haven't had a peep on anything that was promised-but didn't get there on time."
UPS was hopeful it could complete those deliveries by late Friday.
"People have to plan ahead a little bit," Hassmann said. "When you wait til the last minute and trust it to somebody else to do their best, it's out of your control."
"It's busy, it's stressful, but we're ready for it," UPS Louisville spokesman Jeff Wafford said Monday, the last day Next-Day Air delivery was guaranteed in time for Christmas.
Since then, UPS hasn't made its Louisville spokespeople available for on-camera interviews. But in an email to WAVE 3 News Friday, Wafford cited "unprecedented amount of volume that was well above the forecast" as the reason UPS missed delivery targets. "We prepared, but it was more air volume than our capacity," the email continued.
Worldwide, UPS took on 55,000 additional seasonal hires, including 1,300 at Worldport Louisville, 10,000 more delivery trucks and 23 chartered aircraft. Christmas Eve saw twice as many flights as normal and Thursday's air traffic was up 50 percent, Wafford reported. Many staffers will work overtime this weekend, to manage the rising numbers of gift returns.
Hassmann believes he knows where the trouble began and where the opportunity remains.
"People like Amazon and others that promised next-day delivery," he said. "They need to understand the pressure they're putting on their shippers. For them to arbitrarily promise delivery—when they don't have the actual control over it puts (UPS) in a bad spot."
Teamsters Local 89, the union who represents Louisville workers, has vented similar frustrations on its website and its Facebook page.
"UPS received this flood of packages due to the inability of other services to handle this level of Christmas volume," the statement read. "Many members, especially those with young children, missed out on irreplaceable Christmas celebrations with their families. Many of our members clocked over 100 hours of work over the past week and are expected to continue working these extended hours and workdays as long as necessary to deliver customer shipments."
A Taste of Kentucky saw online sales grow more than 20 percent, compared to last Christmas, Hassman said. But staffers also took stock of inventory and orders 10 days before Christmas to "draw a line" regarding delivery dates.
"We'd rather have it get there early or on time than have it come in late," he said.
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