Why Does UPS Deliver So Late? (9 Reasons Why)

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Yasmin Fisher

Yasmin Fisher is a fashion-loving shopaholic who has spent the last 10 years in customer service. She loves finding great deals, and thrifting is one of her favorite weekend activities.

When it comes to delivering packages, UPS has one of the worst reputations in the industry. From poor customer service to lost packages, it always seems to bring headaches to their clients.

In particular, one thing seems to be a constant: late packages. I’ve always given UPS the benefit of the doubt, but the company rarely ever delivers my packages on time. That made me wonder: why does UPS deliver so late, anyway? Am I just that unlucky?

Why Does UPS Deliver So Late?


1. High Shipment Volume

Despite its less-than-stellar reputation, UPS is still one of the biggest delivery companies in the world.

UPS delivers an average of 25 million packages a day, which equates to roughly 6.4 billion packages annually.

With so many packages to deliver, some delay in delivery is inevitable. There are only so many drivers UPS can employ, so packages aren’t always guaranteed to be delivered on time.

2. Traffic Jams

If you live in a city with a lot of traffic—say, New York, Chicago, or Philadelphia—your deliveries are bound to be late.

Traffic reports, though helpful, aren’t as reliable as they claim to be, so delivery companies like UPS can never really determine the exact time your package will be delivered. Sometimes it comes early, sometimes it doesn’t.

Those that live in large cities should expect their deliveries to be at least an hour late because of traffic jams. Between construction, detours, accidents, and major roadblocks, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for UPS drivers to arrive at their delivery destinations on time.

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3. Poor Weather Conditions

Poor weather conditions can inevitably cause delays due to road shut-downs, slow transits, and weather-related accidents.

As frustrating as it may be for customers keenly waiting for their packages, there are only so many UPS and other delivery companies can do when the weather is against them.

If you live in a city with volatile weather, there’s nothing you can really do with delayed packages. Try to be understanding and hope that the package you’ve ordered will be delivered in one piece (if at all).

4. UPS System Issues

I don’t work with UPS, but a friend of mine was an employee of a similarly massive delivery company: FedEx.

Whenever I’d complain about my UPS deliveries coming late, she’d nod in understanding and say, “Maybe they’re experiencing some sort of system failure.”

When I asked her to elaborate, she said that delivery systems aren’t as rock-solid as people assume them to be, resulting in instances of delay.

Systems can fail anytime because of multiple reasons, from unexpected updates and poor hosting to increased shipment delivery volumes or company errors. These issues can cause significant delays in the delivery processing, thus affecting when customers receive their orders.

Though UPS is a giant company, it still isn’t immune to random system issues.

5. Unclear Delivery Location

Unclear Delivery Location 

Another possible reason UPS delivers your packages so late is that you live in a hard-to-locate area with unclear or inaccurate delivery instructions.

Delivery companies need detailed instructions to deliver your package on time. Without proper information, your packages won’t arrive as expected or be delivered at all.

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So when you’re typing in your address, be as detailed as you possibly can—especially if you’re living in a hard-to-locate area. If you’re writing the address on paper manually, make your handwriting as clear as possible.

6. Vehicle Troubles

UPS vehicles deliver packages all day, every day, for at least eight hours a day, so vehicle breakdowns are bound to happen at some point during the delivery process.

Even with preventative maintenance, vehicle troubles can never really be avoided.

When vehicle troubles arise, UPS doesn’t flat-out tell their customers “the car broke down, we’re sorry!” That would be admitting fault—and companies don’t usually admit fault.

So even if UPS doesn’t admit it, it’s safe to assume that unexpected delays can sometimes be caused by vehicle issues.

7. Problems With Customs

If you order stuff from outside your country often, there’s a possibility that your UPS packages are delivered late because of issues with customs.

Even big carriers like UPS face custom-related problems. Unless all the required documents are filled out and attached correctly from both ends, customs may hold your package until the right information is presented.

8. Delays Due to the Pandemic

COVID-19 may no longer be a “hot topic” in most countries of the world, but it still exists.

The pandemic has caused countless delivery issues across the world, and it still continues to do so to this day.

Experienced courier companies like UPS have multiple methods of ensuring certain deliveries are handled quickly and efficiently, but unprecedented circumstances come with unprecedented situations.

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UPS can never guarantee 100% zero delays in their deliveries because the pandemic is still a real issue that a lot of sectors are trying to overcome.

9. Increased Rushed or Guaranteed Packages

Like most couriers, UPS offers “rushed” or guaranteed deliveries.

Rushed deliveries cost extra, so UPS puts them before regular deliveries to ensure customers get value for their money.

Unfortunately, this means that other deliveries are set aside to prioritize such special deliveries. Increased rushed or guaranteed packages can be the reason your UPS package is delayed for the day.

Final Thoughts

UPS isn’t the best courier around, but it’s still one of the more reliable ones.

UPS might deliver your packages late, but as long as the order isn’t lost in transit, the company never goes back on its “guaranteed delivery” promise.

Common reasons why UPS delivers so late include increased shipment volume for the day, poor weather conditions, traffic jams, and system issues.

The fault might also be caused by unclear delivery instructions or issues with customs—so don’t be too harsh on the delivery drivers! They’re human, at the end of the day. They can never always arrive at your doorstep at 3 PM sharp like the tracking app tells you.

Author

  • Yasmin Fisher is a fashion-loving shopaholic who has spent the last 10 years in customer service. She loves finding great deals, and thrifting is one of her favorite weekend activities.

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