Nightly News   |  December 26, 2013

FedEx, UPS scramble to deliver late packages

Shipping companies appear to have been caught off guard in 2013, apologizing for not delivering packages that ought to have arrived by Christmas. Shippers blame nasty weather and soaring online sales for the delays. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> good evening. i'm natalie morales in for brian. for the shipping giants today is the night the -- nightmare after christmas as fedex and u.p.s. are trying to get packages finally to their destinations amid growing frustration. meantime the day after christmas for many is about shopping for post holiday deals, perhaps making a return or exchange. this year retailers are desperate to make up for lack luster holiday sales. gabe gutierrez is in atlanta. good evening.

>> reporter: good evening. consider this the year that online shopping changed everything from returning presents here at the mall to deliveries on the road. the post holiday rush is far from over. before dawn , the trucks were on the move. fedex and u.p.s. scrambling to deliver late packages that didn't make it in time for christmas . some customers got tired of waiting and showed up at u.p.s. centers.

>> my son was crushed. you know, these were things he was expecting for christmas .

>> got the call that the package was here. we're here to pick it up.

>> reporter: u.p.s. took the brunt of the t criticism. the company blamed nasty weather and soaring online sales saying it is now making every effort to get packages to their destination as quickly as possible. fedex says the vast majority of its deliveries had no problems and promised to address any isolated incidents.

>> shippers this year really didn't do a good job anticipating the shift in holiday shopping. more consumers shopped last minute. more retailers offered online deals and free shipping.

>> reporter: some consumers are sounding off on social media . still waiting for deliveries they say sitting at the houston airport , some as long as two weeks. today some identifying themselves as u.p.s. drivers defended themselves. i worked 10 to 14 hours a day for a month straight. didn't see my wife. did not go christmas shopping . this year holiday spending was up 3.5% but online sales up 10%. adding up to more than $42 billion spent this holiday season . more internet purchases have also led to more returns.

>> i have to exchange a coat that i bought for my son.

>> reporter: if you have ever wondered where your returns end up -- major retailers send them to this 200,000 square footwear house in new jersey where they are repackaged and resold.

>> americans are buying more online. we'll resell those goods.

>> reporter: the shift to online shopping has left brick and mortar stores with more inventory, meaning more deals after christmas .

>> today was the post christmas super sale.

>> i got a pair of shoes that were 79 for $29.95.

>> reporter: more of a rush to discount and deliver. neither u.p.s. nor fedex said exactly how many packages were delayed. careful not to suffer any backlash amazon.com is compensating customers with gift cards and refunds on shipping charges. natalie?

>> gabe gutierrez in atlanta for us. thank you.