FedEx Failure

FedEx failure It has been widely reported in the media that both FedEx and UPS had problems delivering items due on Christmas Eve. Most of the reports I have seen are attributing this to weather or just unexpected demand. But in my case, the package I was expecting FedEx to deliver by 8pm on December 24th had been sitting in their Oakland facility since 7:41am on December 23rd. That is over 36 hours before the end of the estimated delivery time.

Weather & Unexpected Demand

The weather here in the SF Bay Area was clear and sunny every day this week until today, but even then it was a long way short of being bad enough to delay anything. Of course, the package could have been delayed getting here from somewhere with more severe weather conditions. But remember the tracking said it arrived at the local Oakland facility on Monday.

Perhaps it was unexpected demand that caused the problem. But really? Neither of the two largest shipping companies in the US were able to predict a spike in deliveries for Christmas Eve? Maybe they just didn’t predict it being as large as it was, but remember that tracking info shows them actually deciding not to try to deliver on Monday because that would be early. It would also have allowed them to help leave capacity on December 24th to actually make their commitments. Is it too much to expect that kind of planning from companies that offer logistics management as part of their available services? 

They must also know their local delivery capacity, so they should be able to advise shippers that they can’t meet that date once they have committed to that capacity at the time the package is dropped off (or the entry is made in their systems for the package). Again, they claim logistics is something they can take care of – managing capacity is a basic requirement there. They had my package since the Saturday as it happens, so they had plenty of time to determine whether there was capacity in Oakland to deliver everything on December 24th. It’s not as if these were same day delivery.

OnTrac, On Time

We also had a package that Amazon shipped using OnTrac that did arrive on time on Christmas Eve; in fact well before 8pm too. So some shipping companies managed to keep their commitments. OnTrac seems to have a different ethic though – I will frequently receive things from them faster than the two day Amazon Prime promise. It appears as though they try to deliver everything as soon as they can; none of that “not due for delivery” nonsense causing it to sit for a day.


I have seen a lot of posts on Twitter and under online articles commenting that we should give them a break since they delivered so much on time. Or that the problem is lack of planning on the part of the people who ordered late. Sorry, but neither of those are acceptable when these companies promise they will deliver on time; FedEx even paints “The World On Time” on its planes. No matter the reason I need something delivered on a given date, if FedEx promise they can do it, they should deliver.

As it happens, we had another package, sent “overnight” with FedEx, that was also delayed. We didn’t need it for Christmas, but FedEx still charged a premium rate to deliver something the next day, and failed to keep that promise.

Of course, there are times when something beyond their control prevents delivery (natural disasters, accidents, weather related delays). But it should never take 36+ hours to get from the local facility, a few miles away, to my house. And adding a note to the tracking that basically says they are delaying delivery so as not to deliver early is crazy, especially a day before one of, if not the busiest delivery day of the year.