UPS Christmas Delays Hit Home in Houston

At about 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, I could wait no longer. With family members set to descend on my house within two hours, it was time to get the final gifts wrapped, especially those for my mom and that side of the family as we would be exchanging those before dinner. Unfortunately, my mom's gift -- a nice single coffee maker -- had yet to arrive. I ordered it a week earlier from Amazon, but shipping had been delayed via UPS despite my Prime membership.

So I wrapped the filter that had been delivered several days earlier. It was a sad little box that would find its way under the tree, but at least it was something.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one with this problem. Both UPS and FedEx struggled to get packages delivered by Christmas and many people didn't get their gifts on time.

Digital purchases are forecast to represent about 14 percent of buying this holiday, up 9 percent from last year. Many of these purchases are being made from big stores and outlets like Amazon, Walmart and others. The stores have had a hard time keeping up with orders and UPS has had a difficult time shipping them, owing to the change in how Americans shop and how quickly it has happened. Stores and shippers simply weren't ready.

I could tell something was strange when, several days before Christmas, I got a delivery at 10:30 p.m. I know the time because UPS drivers have an uncomfortable way of announcing they left a package on the porch: they ring the doorbell and then bang on the door like a S.W.A.T. team looking for a kidnapped toddler. Needless to say, someone pounding on the door at 10:30 p.m. got my attention.

But that wasn't the only anomaly. I even received a few package deliveries the Sunday before Christmas, which immediately brought to mind Jerry Seinfeld dressed as a postal carrier delivering mail on a Sunday to help get Newman transferred to Hawaii. Clearly, they were working hard, but not hard enough. Well, not hard enough for everyone, it would seem.

About an hour before my mom and other family members arrived, I saw the familiar brown van outside the house. The very last gift had arrived just in time for dinner. A Christmas miracle? Probably not. But despite all the troubles and delays, it came. Just like Christmas morning, it came just the same (Shout-out to Dr. Seuss!).

I was one of the lucky ones. There are still thousands of people out there who didn't get their gifts for Christmas. Hopefully, UPS wasn't "Santa" for those folks. I'd hate to be the parent explaining that one.

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