FedEx on-time delivery has suffered during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting complaints on social media about its Norcross facility.
FedEx said it will implement a contingency plan to deal with the delays, including additional package handlers and other resources.
With the increased reliance on online shopping during the pandemic, a deluge of packages is testing the capabilities of shipping firms.
FedEx has a major distribution center in Norcross, and consumers have taken to social media to complain about packages getting stuck there.
The Memphis-based shipping firm issued a statement saying its FedEx Ground operation “is experiencing a surge of package volume due to e-commerce growth during the current pandemic that has resulted in a temporary service delay for some packages in the Norcross area.”
“We offer our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience caused by these delays and appreciate our customers’ patience as we implement contingency plans designed to restore service levels,” FedEx said in the statement.
On-time performance for FedEx domestic services was 90.1% from Aug. 2-22, meaning about 1 million packages were delivered late, according to Satish Jindel, president of ShipMatrix, a shipment tracking software firm. That’s compared to the U.S. Postal Service rate of 93.4% on time and the UPS rate of 95.7% in that period, according to ShipMatrix data.
FedEx Ground’s on-time performance has declined from a pre-pandemic rate of 96-97%, according to John Haber, CEO of Atlanta-based supply chain consulting firm Spend Management Experts.
“Their network has been bogged down for quite a while now, with late deliveries and service problems,” Haber said. “When the economy shut down, everybody started ordering online and so their average daily volumes have just skyrocketed.”
Jindel noted that most people don’t have an urgent need for the items shipped to them, so the delays usually don’t create hardships.
However, some consumers have raised complaints about perishable goods going bad while stuck in transit.
“We’ve got a lot of clients that ship on ice — whether it’s medicines, whether it’s food kits — that’s usually only good for two days, for 48 hours, then it spoils,” Haber said. “The people that are complaining are the people that really need what’s being shipped, for the most part.”
FedEx’s on-time decline has come as it goes through a process of taking back some of the deliveries it had handed off to the post office, according to Haber. FedEx announced in May 2019 that it planned to shift away from, and completely stop by the end of 2020, using the postal service to deliver nearly 2 million packages a day.
“They made the decision to do that before the pandemic hit, so they’ve got these huge increases in volumes, and they’re also bringing 2 million packages a day into their delivery network,” Haber said. “Certainly, COVID is having an impact as well,” affecting staffing.
What’s more, Hurricane Laura shut down terminals at Port Houston in Texas this week and caused business closures in the region, which could affect shipments across the country.
FedEx and UPS usually offer money-back guarantees to customers but have waived those amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Smaller shippers are likely to run into more problems finding out what’s causing delays, Haber said. But, even for large companies, “there are problems with information coming from FedEx,” he said. “We’re hearing packages are just being shipped back and forth between FedEx facilities. It doesn’t make any sense what is going on there.”
While some people are experiencing FedEx delays, others are having problems with post office delays amid budget issues and political strife affecting the service.
Haber said the post office “simply cannot process the amount of volume that they have.”
“It’s like a new problem pops up almost every week ... whether it’s weather driven or COVID driven or too much volume,” he said. And with the start of the peak holiday shipping season coming in the fall, “it’s not going to get any better.”