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December 5, 2017 3:45 PM, EST
UPS Warns of Temporary Delays After Cyber Monday Overwhelms Network
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

UPS Inc. is expecting slight delays in package deliveries after a surge in e-commerce sales swamped its network in the days after Thanksgiving.

Online orders on Cyber Monday, Nov. 27, and the days after overwhelmed expectations, UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said Dec. 5, causing a “bubble” to develop at certain package centers. Heavy volumes forced one- or two-day delays for certain items ordered last week, even as the company worked over the weekend to catch up.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest North American for-hire carriers.

Much of the backlog is already cleared, and UPS doesn’t expect to miss Christmas deadlines because of it, Gaut said.

“The bubble has worked its way through the system, and we expect everything to be back in line with our forecasts by tomorrow,” Gaut said.

UPS has been preparing for months to handle the spike in deliveries during the peak holiday season, implementing a 27-cent surcharge for the first time on packages shipped to U.S. residences over certain weeks. The company also expects to add 95,000 temporary workers.

Driver Hours

The shopping surge prompted the company to notify many of its drivers that they would be required to work as many as 70 hours over an eight-day spell, an increase over the 60 hours over a seven-day period that is more typical during peak season, Gaut said. Drivers are entitled to an extended rest following that period.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters alleged that UPS made that move without first consulting the local unions representing employees.

“This is, after all, the third consecutive year in which Cyber Monday purchases have overwhelmed the company’s capacity to deliver packages for the holidays,” Teamsters General President James Hoffa wrote in a letter to UPS CEO David Abney on Dec. 4.

UPS has implemented the temporary 70-hour workweek over eight days in the past, although it is using it more broadly around its network this year, Gaut said. News of the delays at Atlanta-based UPS was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

The courier’s Express unit delivered 89% of packages by the end of the expected delivery day between Nov. 27 and Dec. 2, compared with an on-time rate of more than 99% at FedEx Corp., according to ShipMatrix Inc., a data provider that tracks shippers’ performance.

UPS delivers almost double the volume of packages over peak season that FedEx does. UPS expects to deliver 750 million packages globally during peak season, compared with as many as 400 million at FedEx, according to each company’s forecast.

FedEx ranks No. 2 on the TT Top 100 list of the largest North American for-hire carriers.