5 Hard Truths about Shipping with FedEx & UPS This Holiday Season6 min read

The holiday season that sitcoms show is a time of happiness and relaxation involving sending Christmas cards to your co-workers and their families and spending time with dear ones.

For retailers though, Holiday shipping is like tiptoeing around landmines. Delivery delays, lost packages, and anxious customer calls threaten to undo your otherwise successful holiday sales run.

Usually, only a handful of retailers escape unscathed from the holiday last-mile logistics war field that looms with pitfalls. On the one hand, customers are ever unforgiving of delivery mistakes while on on the other, carriers such as FedEx and UPS mercilessly add to your piling shipping expenditure.

Here are some of the harsh truths of shipping during the holiday season that retailers must be aware of to survive through this period:

1. Surcharges will prove to be costly

A look at your shipping invoice will give you an idea of how many unexpected components it contains.

In a nutshell, there are several surcharges in your shipping bill. You need to be able to identify inaccurately-applied surcharges and filter them out.

FedEx surcharges
UPS surcharges

There has been an almost identical hike in holiday surcharges for oversized packages, unauthorized ground packages, and additional handling charges by both FedEx and UPS this year (almost a 10% increase compared to last year).

Both shipping carriers justify their surcharges on the pretext of the holiday season being their busiest shipping season. Granted, the peak shipping season warrants a rejig of their entire fulfilment network. However, both carriers are pulling off a disingenuous act, with no regard to the additional cost burden being placed on retailers. 

However, if you’re looking for some good news amid the gloom, UPS announced that it will not be applying a peak additional charge on residential deliveries, compared to the surcharge of $0.28 for ground and $0.99 for air shipments in the 2018 holiday season. Similarly, FedEx will also not apply additional residential surcharges this holiday season.

2. Reading your contract can be unpleasant

Cleverly hidden among the fine print of long and almost impossible to read shipping contracts are nasty holiday shipping surprises. Among these, it is not uncommon to find an extended delivery timeline by a day or two for holiday shipments.

Most retailers are often not aware of the terms and conditions in their carriers’ holiday schedule. Terms and conditions like the dates on which UPS limits their services by delivering only critical services and the days when FedEx won’t make any home deliveries.

While the carriers explain that such conditions are created to accommodate the huge volume of shipments during the holiday season, it is evident that they are specifically created to cover for shipping carriers’ errors in case they fail to meet SLAs during the season.

To make things simpler for your business, we’ve made note of important holiday-season dates for UPS & FedEx and presented them to you as a free downloadable schedule. Being mentally prepared for the battle you are about to face is the first step toward acing your holiday game.

If merely being aware of the holiday schedule of FedEx and UPS doesn’t seem quite enough, you can arm yourself with comparative data on their services and try negotiating a fresh contract that is to your advantage.

3. Tracking your parcels with your carrier can cause anxiety

Well, how many times have the packages marked as delivered on the carrier tracking page been reported to be missing by the customer? Innumerable? Quite right.

An increase in the shipping volume can only mean shipment tracking goes haywire. Retail shippers have very little control over order deliveries once they move out of their warehouses. They have no clue if the package was delivered to the intended recipient or left on the porch waiting to be nicked. Consequently it makes sense to use a solution that allows retailers like you to take greater control of your last mile and provide a better delivery experience.

4. Delivery delays are unavoidable

Despite stocking your inventory, launching clever holiday campaigns, and bundling orders in shiny festive wrap, when shipments are not on time, all your efforts go futile. 

The delivery delay percentage during this holiday season is expected to be at an alarming high of more than 8% across service types. The customer, of course, remains ignorant of the delivery status of their order. And they are quick to blame the retailer, not the shipping carrier.

Once again, retailers are forced to pay for the mistakes committed by their shipping partners. Only this time, the loss includes unhappy customers who vent on social media.

The delivery delay percentage during the Holidays is expected to be at an alarming high of more than 8% across service types.

With LateShipment.com’s automated parcel audit process, you can monitor your shipping carrier’s performance and get intuitive reports, which can help you hold your carrier accountable for their performance.

5. Money-back guarantees are waived off

The UPS Guaranteed Service Refund and FedEx Money Back Guarantee are clauses that are part of the shipping contract and stipulate that these carriers will refund 100% of the shipping charges if parcel delivery is delayed by even 60 seconds except in exceptional circumstances (natural disasters, weather delays, etc.).

If you are looking for temporary relief in the form of shipping refunds for service failures, then here’s another shocker. What’s lying in ambush, is the suspension of the money-back guarantee before and after the holidays.

Shipping carriers suspend the money-back guarantee for all ground and standard services retaining a revised money-back guarantee for premium ones.

But all is not lost. Retailers still have a chance to navigate (if not thrive during) this shipping season with time-tested last-mile delivery strategies

A Little about LateShipment.com

At LateShipment.com, our focus has remained steadfastly on the last mile, typically the part of the logistics chain that is the most opaque. Since our inception, our state-of-the-art algorithms have tracked over 100 million parcels.

Here are some of the high-impact capabilities we offer you:

  • Enhanced real-time dashboard – Have your finger on the pulse of your shipments and get a 360° view of shipments in-transit
  • Pre-built dashboard for Customer Support reps – See real-time alerts on predicted delays, promptly intervene and proactively fix them before customer impact
  • Stay connected with customers in the last mile – Build credibility and loyalty with proactive issue resolution emails and automated delivery status notifications
  • Create branded tracking pages – Craft a brand-consistent post-purchase experience with custom order tracking pages to increase brand recall
  • Save up to 20% on shipping costs – Automatically claim refunds from 20+ global carriers for over 50 service failures & billing errors like late shipments, wrongly applied surcharges and more.

The best part is, it takes less than 2 minutes to see LateShipment.com in action and comes at zero out-of-pocket costs.The value we add to businesses is most evident when experienced first-hand.

It’s that simple!

Click here to start saving money on your shipping and providing outstanding post-purchase experiences.