Some waiting for Christmas gifts in the Merced area are still waiting after UPS and FedEx experienced some shipping problems this week.
Shellee Randol of Merced, who commented on the Merced Sun-Star’s Facebook page, said she was expecting a package shipped Dec. 17 via FedEx’s three-day priority method. As of Christmas Day, it was in the Midwest.
“It is now floating around Chicago somewhere,” she wrote. “The shipper can’t even file a claim until 15 days have passed – not the end of the world but kind of a bummer.”
An undisclosed number of packages from either shipper did not make their scheduled arrivals Christmas Eve. A heavy load of shoppers and bad weather early in the week in parts of the country were to blame, according to officials from both shipping giants.
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“UPS experienced heavy holiday volume and is making every effort to get packages to their destination as quickly as possible,” according to a message on the UPS website. “UPS has resumed normally scheduled service on December 26.”
Last-minute shoppers and a short shopping season also likely added to the shipping problems, according to analysts. Because Thanksgiving fell so late in November, there were six fewer days for shopping than in 2012.
Scott Fiedler, a spokesman for FedEx, issued a statement. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, FedEx handled 275 million shipments, according to the statement. He said there “would be very few” not delivered on time.
“We’re sorry that there could be delays, and we’re contacting affected customers who have shipments available for pickup,” the statement said.
One of those affected was Melissa Starks of Mariposa, another Facebook commenter, who sent gifts out of state and figured she had given enough time for their arrival.
“My granddaughters in Oregon didn’t get their gifts from me and we waited Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – still nothing,” she wrote. “(The gifts) were sent off (Dec.) 18 even, to give them plenty of time – very disappointed to say the least.”
California was not alone in later-than-Christmas deliveries. Late gifts were also reported in Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
The U.S. Postal Service saw no more delays than in a typical holiday season in the Merced area, according to spokesman Augustine Ruiz. He said the volume of packages was up 19 percent from last year.
“We’ve been doing this for 238 years, so we get Christmas right,” Ruiz said.
He attributed the increase in packages to a greater number of shoppers buying online. Ruiz said the Postal Service delivered packages Christmas Day with carriers volunteering to work holiday shifts.
For UPS and FedEx packages, the “last mile” is often carried by the Postal Service, particularly in less densely populated areas, Ruiz said.
Severe weather in other parts of the country likely contributed to some late deliveries, shippers said. But that wasn’t a problem in California because conditions have been mild in the run-up to Christmas, according to Ruiz.
Mail Boxes Merced, which ships through FedEx, UPS and other shippers, was “pretty dead” Thursday, according to co-owner Marina Holmes. She said she had no customers lament over tardy gifts.
Holmes said her busiest day this holiday was the Monday after Thanksgiving, so most of her clients left plenty of time for their items to get delivered. “We didn’t have a lot of last-minute shippers, like we’ve had in the past,” she said.
Several commenters on the Sun-Star’s Facebook page said their packages arrived just in time for their children to enjoy.
That’s likely little consolation to Merced’s Kandi Ramos, who also was a gift short come Christmas morning. She had to make other arrangements because the present originally scheduled to reach her home by Dec. 15 wouldn’t make it until Thursday, the day after Christmas.
“It cannot be a gift from Santa any longer though,” she wrote. “We had to purchase a different gift for Santa to deliver.”