Know What Service Alerts In The US By UPS and FedEx Mean (And How To Handle Weather Delays)4 min read

Winter is here

We knew winter was coming, but not exactly like this.

The blizzard caused by the arctic blast in certain parts of the US and Canada has made life difficult for many. Several states in the Midwest witnessed temperatures of up to -50 degrees (which hasn’t been recorded in decades)!

Check out this picture of the arctic blast shared by NASA. Quite chilling.

polar vortex in canada and america

Normal life has come to a standstill as people have been advised to stay indoors, and schools and offices have been closed. Unsurprisingly, package delivery has been delayed across the US and Canada.

Major shipping carriers like FedEx and UPS have issued service alerts on their websites and via email letting customers know which zip codes will experience delivery delays.

How are shipping carriers handling the blizzard?

Shipping carriers have shut down operations in the most affected areas and are working on contingency plans.

The UPS Worldport hub in Louisville, Kentucky for instance has operational difficulties and the carrier has notified customers in advance of the possible delay in all packages shipped out from there.

Most of us are familiar with the communication from carriers like UPS and FedEx stating cease of operations in certain areas as the safety of delivery personnel was in question. Even those hardened to extreme weather conditions happen to find this arctic blast quite intense. With weather cold enough to freeze boiling water midair, it certainly is unsafe for workers to be out delivering packages.

Amazon had to close fulfilment operations across several areas in the Midwest as freezing temperatures slowed operations down to a standstill.

You can check out UPS Service Alerts and FedEx Service Alerts here.

Is the freeze getting to retailers?

Retailers have also put up a delayed shipping tab on their websites so that shoppers are not disappointed with surprise late deliveries.

Despite the prior notifications, shippers have no way of identifying the exact packages that are delayed till its too late. Wouldn’t it be much easier if you could notify customers a little in advance about the certainty of a delay? Instead of a overall warning on the checkout page.

On the other hand, shippers will also be missing out on the refunds that they usually collect for late deliveries. This is because of the fact that any delays or exceptions caused due to weather conditions or natural disasters are not covered under the UPS Service Guarantee or the FedEx Money Back Guarantee (weather is out of their hands, after all).

So any refunds are out of the question. Unless they are for any of the other 50 odd service failures that are likely to occur without any assistance from the bad weather.

States with maximum impact on package delivery

Of all the states affected by the arctic blast, the worst affected ones are: Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Chicago, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New York, Minnesota and Nebraska.

LateShipment data collected since the arctic blast began show that the states with most number of delayed packages are Nebraska (9.3%), Minnesota (5.7%) and Illinois (4%).

UPS shipments faced maximum delays in the following states.

states with most weather delays for UPS

FedEx shipments were delayed mostly in the following states.

states with most weather delays for FedEx

With UPS, the states with most number of delays so far are Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin.

As for FedEx, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin faced the most number of delays.

What can your business do?

Yes, it’s quite difficult to get into work and field those customer calls on packages that are dreadfully behind schedule. But there are a few things you can do to ensure things don’t go from bad to worse.

There are several online tools like that track your packages for you across multiple carriers and let you know precisely which ones are likely to be delayed.

All you have to do is turn on the automatic notifications feature, and your customers get notified in advance! That’s like more than half your frustrated customer calls reduced.

Besides this, you can also work out a plan where customers can do free returns for products that have been damaged or perishables that have arrived too late. Offer a replacement or a discount voucher. That will ensure they stay on even after the disappointment.

Stay tuned for any service alerts from FedEx and UPS.

Do contact us if you need any more tracking information on packages delayed due to the weather.

Let’s bundle up till the weather lets up!

Joelah James

Writer. Wanderer. Impulsive artist. Always on the lookout for great coffee, books, and more coffee.