UPS, FedEx Suspend Money-Back Guaranteed Delivery Dec 18-24

FYI: For packages shipped December 18-24, UPS and FedEx suspend their Money-Back Guarantees and won’t refund shipping for packages that are not delivered on time. [FedEx, UPS (PDF)] (Thanks to James!)


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  1. EatSleepJeep says:

    Just when you need it most, they take it away.

  2. tbax929 says:

    Well, at least their telling us on the 16th, instead of the 18th! Good to know.

  3. Jerkamie says:

    What a bunch of jerks.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I think it’s fair. They know that is will not be possible to accomodate that much traffic, which by the way is far more than they handle the other 358 days a year.

      They are saying to you, “we can’t adhere to this commitment at this time.” It’s your decision to decide that means they are a poor company, but at least they are telling you up front instead of giving you the run around after the fact.

      • Jerkamie says:

        So If I work at Fedex and I feel like going home early Dec18-24 I’ll just not deliver 10 or so packages.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          That’s not exactly the issue. If you ship a package Dec. 18 and expect for it to be there by Dec. 24, whether you’ve paid for the two-day or three-day shipping is not going to override the fact that there are huge storms in the midwest, and there is a ton of increased traffic for the holidays. Asking people to keep this in consideration is a reasonable request. Anything shipped regular ground shipping after Dec. 14 and anything shipped now by two-day or three-day is “ship at your own risk” time, IMO.

      • Jerkamie says:

        Stores everywhere hire xmas help to deal with the increased volume why not ups or fedex?

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Hiring seasonally when you’re a shipping and delivery company is not the same as hiring extra workers at the mall.

          If they hire more people and add extra shifts (say, making the delivery window wider), they have to not only pay those people, but pay for the extra time spent delivering packages. If they were to add more shifts to the schedule, they have to pay for the maintenance and the gas for those trucks, not to mention the fact that they have to hire extra people who know the warehouse sorting system to scan packages and put them on the trucks for more deliveries.

          It’s not simple work – you have to know what you’re doing. Delivering packages isn’t easy, either. Drivers have to be very familiar with their routes. And it’s not reasonable to ask delivery truck drivers and haulers to work so much more just because it’s the holidays. They have families too, and hauling packages onto trucks is not easy work.

          • ClutchDude says:


            I can tell they’ve hired a new driver where I live. My roommates suddenly got a “Item could not be delivered. Receiver no longer lives at that address.” letter…despite living there 3 years. Our street is a little weird to get to and does not have a street sign at one side, but I’ve gotten packages from UPS as recently as a week before this happened.

        • Optimistic Prime says:

          When’s the last time you’ve seen a store increase the size of it’s warehouse, sales-floor, or front-end to accommodate Christmas? That’s what you’re asking delivery companies to do. You also can’t hire indian chiefs to do a sun dance either. We have meteorologists galore, but none of them can control the weather.

      • Naame says:

        You mean to say that there is more work to be done than they can handle? Helllloooo??? Recession? 10% unemployment? Hire some seasonals instead of reducing your quality you jerks.

    • Watcher95 says:

      Deliver it yourself?

  4. Underpants Gnome says:

    The UPS store I shipped from yesterday around Noon already said the money back guarantee was suspended. So I guess YMMV.

  5. Shaftoe says:

    Makes sense.

  6. SkokieGuy says:

    Last year, UPS did the same thing. I am a UPS shipper. Last year they did the same thing.

    When using a UPS-issued computer for preparing shipments, when Overnight or 2nd day was selected, there was no indication “guarantee does not apply” or something similar. The charges of course were the exact same as when delivery is guaranteed. How hard would it be to have a simple check-box pop up that would confirm shipper is aware no guarantee? How many pissed off shippers & customers, and wasted CSR calls could have been avoided?

    When I called to request a refund for packages not delivered on time, I was informed that we WERE notified – via some text on our monthly statement. Keep in mind the daily driver dropped of a faxed letter to tell us their pick up and delivery schedule during the holidays, but somehow UPS couldn’t manage to communicate the lack of guarantee in an equally direct way.

    Like many companies, statements go to an accounting department, not a shipping department. For many companies, the bill may be sent to an entirely different location, so this was clearly an attempt to hide the lack of guarantee, which if well publicized, could have cause shippers to use a cheaper class of service.

    My claim for a service guarantee refund was declined, of course, and the (very nice) CSR told me people were screaming all day, because of the lack of well-communicated information.

  7. Underpants Gnome says:

    The UPS store I shipped from yesterday around Noon already said the money back guarantee was suspended. So I guess YMMV.

  8. azntg says:

    UPS/FedEx to the General Public: “We get to ruin Christmas and get to take your money for the privilege too!”

  9. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    I am guessing that during peak season, they are covering their asses due to huge volumes of packages moving around the country. Not to mention this peak season comes during some of the more unpredictable weather in many areas. I can’t say I blame them, honestly.

    • jesusofcool says:

      Though you could argue that companies are only as good as how that fulfill those peak periods. Here it seems like they already know they’re not very good and they’re covering their asses. Kind of sad.

      • tbax929 says:

        I don’t think it’s sad at all. If someone is planning to send something and hopeful it will arrive for the holidays, it’s just poor planning to wait until the last minute to send it. You never know what will happen. They’re giving advance notice that they won’t guarantee the shipment, and it doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    • Guppy06 says:

      Alright, but if they won’t guarantee delivery, will they be charging lower rates?

      • Jerkamie says:

        I’m pretty sure they upped the rates, I tried to ship something two weeks ago and wouldn’t give me a price.

        • thisistobehelpful says:

          If you have a fedex account number for some reason it doesn’t give you a detailed price quote unless you’re the administrator as opposed to another person on the account. However if you sign out it generally does it. I found that to be a complete pain in the ass and the CSR I complained to agreed.

      • jesusofcool says:

        Good point. If one of the best parts of their service is no longer going to be available, there should be a drop in price. But I guess that’s just another example of a retailer taking advantage of high demand to charge whatever they feel like.
        I wonder where this policy puts any retailers who use FedEx and guarantee on their site that something ordered by X date will arrive by Xmas.

    • Jerkamie says:

      You ever hear of Xmas help? How about they hire 5-10 employees and have them trained by Dec 18 to make up for the extra volume.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Again, like I replied to you above: this isn’t easy work. The knowledge of working in these warehouse shipping centers can’t be learned in a 1-day training seminar, at least not enough for someone to do their job very well during what is the year’s most difficult and busy time. Would you rather your package arrive Dec. 28 or not at all because some seasonal worker freaked out at how many packages were rushing toward him and forgot to scan yours into the system?

        Likewise, you can’t take people off the street and train them to know precisely where to go at all times and how to get there. Seasoned delivery people know the ins and outs of streets, and they know how to get in and out of traffic jams with side streets and back roads. You can’t just teach that in a day. And you have to pay more to maintain the trucks because they’re out longer.

        • thisistobehelpful says:

          And not even just the knowledge but the efficiency that takes weeks to acquire. Things like this get down to a rhythm between the loading, scanning, organizing and conveyor belt routine in the shipping warehouses. They have like 30 people standing in a line with trucks behind them scanning packages as they pass by en masse and loading them onto the right trucks that have very specific routes they cover. Learning the pace is just as important as learning the individual actions themselves.

          And they do hire extra drivers but those people have already been trained and are on standby always.

      • Wolfbird says:

        You seem to be ignoring that it’s not just CSRs that you need during peak season… you’d also need more trucks, more plants, more planes, more drivers… essentially more of the really expensive stuff you can’t just pull out of a hat and then put away when you don’t need them anymore.

      • friday3 says:

        I like how people seem to know the logistics of companies they have no knowledge of. They are both not saying it wont be there, they are just not guaranteeing it. Any person who says it will ruin their Xmas is a douchebag. If a present gets there a day late does it make it a lessor gift?
        A better analogy would be to suggest to Target or Macys during holiday season is to open a new or larger store for 4-5 weeks, sign a lease, pay for a build out, train a whole staff, and then let the infrastructure sit around until next year.
        Maybe that works in the auto industry (oh wait, never mind they went bankrupt) or the airlines (more bankruptcy and over capacity issues) but not so much in delivery.

  10. sleze69 says:

    Sounds like collusion to me.

  11. Guppy06 says:

    On the other hand, I don’t think the USPS can renege on its Express Mail guarantee (including 12/25 delivery) without violating federal law somewhere.

    • FLConsumer says:

      USPS Express Mail certainly WILL get there when UPS/FedEx won’t. BUT be prepared to pay the price for it.

      • centaurds says:

        Just checked USPS – they now have a notice saying that the Express Mail refund restrictions will be effective for Express shipments on Dec 22 – 25.

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      Actually, I just went to the post office and saw a sign on the door stating that they won’t refund Express Mail non-deliveries between 12/22 and 12/25 unless the item doesn’t get to its destination more than two days after being mailed.

  12. Wolfbird says:

    This makes sense. UPS/FedEx/DHL/etc did not invent Christmas. It’s notm like they oversold a product and just can’t keep up.

    Too many people send their personal packages last minute, and gum up the entier shipping system, delaying things like time-sensitive contract bids and medication. Most of a courier’s revenue comes from business mail, not personal shipments, so I can understand why they would not be bending over backwards pandering to people they make so little profit on.

    You can’t just make a sortation plant bigger and hire twice the drivers for one week a year, then fire them all later. It’s just not possible. It’s much more economical to just suspend a guarantee for a few days when people are already expecting weather and seasonal delays.

  13. CharlesRichter says:

    This is not nearly such a big deal as people are making it out to be.

    If you read both companies’ statements, it is very clear that they are simply extending their delivery commitments by 90 minutes, not just tossing the commitments out altogether. That is to say, while a Standard Overnight package sent by FedEx typically arrives by 3:00, you can’t claim damages if it gets there by 4:30 during the holiday rush.

    If it arrives 91 minutes after the commitment time, have at it, just as if they missed the delivery time by sixty seconds the rest of the year. You get your money back in that circumstance.

    • ClutchDude says:

      Only for UPS Air or Fexex EXPRESS. It’s suspended completely for everything else: Citations:
      Fedex-“The money-back guarantee for FedEx Ground® and FedEx Home Delivery® services will be suspended temporarily for packages tendered during the 14 calendar days before Friday, Dec. 25, 2009 (Friday, Dec. 11, through Thursday, Dec. 24).”

      UPS-“Peak-season guarantees: Commitment times for air and international shipments delivered within the United States and Puerto
      Rico will be extended by 90 minutes on the following days: Nov. 27, Dec. 18–24 and Dec. 31. International air shipments picked
      up or delivered in the United States are guaranteed throughout the holiday season. The guarantee for all U.S. air services and
      UPS 3 Day Select
      ® is suspended for shipments picked up on Dec. 21, 22 and 23. The guarantee also is suspended for UPS Ground
      and UPS Standard packages picked up or scheduled for delivery between Dec. 11 and Dec. 24. For further details, visit for UPS Tariff/Terms and Conditions.”

      So starting the 11th, if you picked cheap shipping, expect delays.

  14. FrinkLemur says:

    No, UPS/FedEx/DHL didn’t invent Christmas, and no, they can’t hire a slew of full-time delivery drivers for one week a year. Having said that, it’s not like UPS is Jim’s Local Express Service (serving western Kalamazoo since 2004). They’re a massive global entity, they know that there’s going to be the mother of all spikes in volume at the end of December, and they ought to plan for it.

    And if they simply can’t do it — if they know they are going to be overwhelmed, packages will be late, and there’s nothing that they can do about it, I agree — they should offer lower pricing or not offer the express services.

    And if they’re going to offer express services AND charge full price, there damn well better be full, easy-to-read disclosure plastered all over their website, in e-mail confirmations, etc etc that the guarantee is suspended during the holidays.

    I’m fairly sure what they’re doing isn’t illegal (and I’m 100% sure that there’s a team of lawyers that had a long look at the process to make sure it is legally sound), but it’s crappy reactive customer service.

    Consider an analogous situation: The Superbowl is coming to town. Local Domino’s Pizza places know that they’re going to be overwhelmed and can’t guarantee thirty-minute delivery. [do they still do that?] As district manager, do you tell the stores to open the conversation with “Just so you know, we’re running at about a 2 hour wait for pizza right now”, or do you address it by saying nothing to the customer about wait times, and tuck a post-it note in the box, under the pizza, that says “hey, it’s the superbowl. The 30 minute guarantee doesn’t apply.”

  15. admiral_stabbin says:

    Have either of these major carriers dropped their “Fuel Surcharge” since the cost of fuel dropped 50%? I know it’s not directly related, but that’s the most diabolical thing (to me) that they’re doing.

    Dropping a guarantee during a package peak time? That’s just Force Majeure… ;-)

  16. vladthepaler says:

    Two competitors somehow coincidentally decide to make the same blatantly anti-consumer move at the same time. Textbook collusion. Will someone please kick the sleeping attourney general’s chair?

    • friday3 says:

      More than two competitors change their air fares at exactly the same time every single day. The nearest major intersection to my house has three gas stations and the prices change the same day all the time. Collusion is sitting down and discussing it, both doing it is running their business against the competition. If either of them felt they could capitalize on it, they would be saying, we dont do this during the holidays. Go back to your hole and get a life, there was a time in the world before overnight delivery where people PLANNED, and had patience.
      Being in sales I tell customers all the time, we try to have zero per cent mistakes, but if we guaranteed that you could not afford us.

  17. FrinkLemur says:

    DHL is in on that action, too….

  18. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I was on the phone not an hour ago with my FedEx rep telling him how happy I was. I just emailed this to him. Let’s see what he says. I bet it’s something about the traffic increase.

    I don’t recall them doing this last year, but the UPS magazine I get always says in the yearly schedule when something shipped at Christmas will arrive. It’s usually an extra day; for example, a package scheduled for delivery on Saturday will not arrive until the following Monday, etc.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Heard from my FedEx rep. He said, and I quote, “We moved 13 Million packages Monday night in a system design for about 11, and if we gave 1% back in refunds, it would be a major amount of money. Future investors look at our Decembers more than any other month to see if we are worthy.”

      That actually makes sense to me.

  19. thompson says:

    Okay so, everyone realizes they do this every year? Right?

    The vitriol about this decision just amazes me — did anyone bother to actually read what the change to the service commitments entails? 90 minutes. Not three days, not a week, not even 5 hours, 90 minutes. They’re giving themselves an extra 90 minutes to deliver your package without having to comp you for a late delivery.

    This is not, as one other poster called it, a “blatantly anti-consumer move”. Shesh…

    • ClutchDude says:

      Again, read a little further on each of their disclaimers.

      That 90 minutes only applies to Fedex Express and UPS Air and International.

      Everything else has it suspended COMPLETELY. 5 days late? Too bad.

      • thompson says:

        Okay, so if you need your package absolutely positively to get there on-time during the last few days before Christmas, send it Express.

        If for whatever reason you’re sending it ground, then no guarantee — I guess I just don’t see what the problem is here. There is a finite capacity in their shipping systems, and there is a point beyond which it’s not economically feasible to have “spare” capacity laying around all year for the one week when you would actually need it.

        Of all the things that get posted on Consumerist, this just seems like such a minor totally non-issue, I don’t understand why people are getting all in a twist about it.

        • Naame says:

          If the finite capacity has anything to do with lack of human help which I am sure at least some of it does then I still think they are jerks. We are facing over 10% unemployment and over 17% underemployment while these guys reduce their quality because they are not willing to hire extra seasonal hands…

          • thompson says:

            They DO hire extra seasonal help — I know that where I live, I even see Fedex and UPS signs on the side of Ryder trucks that they’ve rented around this time of the year.

            The fact of the matter is that there’s a finite capacity in the physical structure… only so many planes, trains, and rented automobiles. You also can only hire seasonal help for certain segments of the operation — drivers? probably not so much… package sorters? maybe some of the more mindless physical stuff… but it just doesn’t seem like this is an operation where every job can be trained in a two day course.

  20. thisistobehelpful says:

    I think this is fair. People who wait that long to ship christmas presents shouldn’t expect them to be on time since holiday volume goes through the roof. Plan to be more efficient if you can’t hand deliver stuff or wait til after the holidays when the shipping volume takes a dive and explain to your loved ones that their gift is on its way.

  21. humphrmi says:

    All our packages were sent / received in early December. And besides, Hanukkah is over in four days :). Then, I get to sit back, relax, and watch the chaos ensue.

  22. falafelwaffle says:

    I work in an area with a huge UPS plant and they *do* hire tons of seasonal workers.

  23. athmsVT says:

    Yet I still stand in outrageous lines when I wait till the last minute to shop even at stores with holiday help. It is not necessarily the companies fault. Companies do everything they can to try to accommodate the rush. Most retail stores have extra registers they do not use 75% of the time, but at the holidays with everyone open they are still busy. There is only so much they can do that is logical. If people want low prices, the stores are going to give up something in order to provide them to customers.

    Also, both Fedex and UPS hire seasonal workers. Lots of them. My understanding is that during the holiday season, UPS drivers are not supposed to get out of the truck in most places, as they have hired help to carry the packages and keep them moving. Lets get in arms though, because at they are honest about the limitations of their service.

  24. savdavid says:

    Merry Christmas to you (unless we ain’t making a profit from it, then screw you.)

  25. ChuckECheese says:

    I ordered a package for regular UPS delivery 2 weeks ago. It is in North Carolina and UPS simply says that shipping is “delayed.” All my other UPS packages (and one USPS) got to me in less than 5 days this season.

    For all y’all who say that UPS simply can’t train workers fast enough, that’s not true. They used to do it all the time, and UPS had a large on-call contingent workforce. There are a lot of people who used to work for UPS who have been laid off or furloughed and would quickly be productive if rehired. And, UPS has decades of experience in logistics and they know what is required, how much, and when and where. No doubt due to the poor economy, UPS has a lot of un- or underused capacity.

    UPS simply decided to cheap out and not hire extra workers – temp, contingent or indentured – for the end-of-year rush. That and a snowstorm (snowstorms aren’t that unusual in December, just inconvenient) tipped UPS’s hand towards canceling delivery guarantees. This was not some freak of nature combined with impossible learning curves. This was a clear decision by UPS to not increase capacity for the holidays (or to not increase it enough), and cross their fingers and hope things didn’t get too bad. And when things got hairy (snowstorm, more business than they could handle), UPS chose to screw over customers by dishonoring their delivery contracts rather than by honoring its delivery guarantees.

  26. senior chick says:

    I’m glad that I mailed my packages yesterday via the Post Office Priority Mail. I believe that I saw an article (may have been in Consumer’s Report) that compared delivery with UPS, Priority Mail, and Fed Ex and I think that the Post office won!

    I believe that UPS at least charges just too much money to mail anything, and unless I was trying to mail something very expensive, just would not use it.

    However, priority mail isn’t cheap either. This year I did most of my shopping online, so hope the packages arrive in time for Christmas.

  27. H3ion says:

    “Whenever you don’t need us, we’re ready!”

  28. Optimistic Prime says:

    I’ve been at a shipping company for over 11 years, and this happens every year for peak week. You can’t expect any business to triple it’s volume and run smoothly. We’re also hedging the bet that weather will be complete crap at some point, which would kill MBG anyhow.

  29. dg says:

    This actually isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s ever shipped anything with any of those services. There’s simply NO WAY for them to honor that guarantee. There’s SO MUCH STUFF that it’s ridiculous. They hire on extra people for sorting, distributing, and actual deliveries and they still end up working a delivery shift from 7am until 7pm. Plus, with the use of the temp workers that are needed, not everything goes as smoothly as it normally does.

    I know a bunch of UPS and FedEx drivers and they work their tails off all year, and get absolutely slammed during the holidays.

    If you’re ordering something for someone, get it together and order it early. Otherwise, just give them a card and some cash and stop enabling the “buy-return-refund” cycle that does nothing but contribute a gazillion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year…