Frustrated UPS Customers Line Up for Packages

The shipping and delivery company says it's working hard to cope with unprecedented demand while keeping employees and customers safe.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Tired of waiting for their deliveries to arrive, some UPS customers have taken to standing in line outside the shipper's main Oakland distribution center, to get their packages.

NBC Bay Area saw lines out the door at the East Bay facility on Wednesday and Thursday. Customers in line told us they came when tracking information showed their parcels had arrived in Oakland, but not made it any further.

Customers line up outside a UPS facility in Oakland on Thursday, June 25.

Kellie Wood, a UPS customer from Alameda, said she was frustrated with delivery delays.

"[They need to] have a better system for being able to get people their shipments," Wood said. "Some of these notices that we’re getting, they’re nonsensical."

Wood said she showed up to try and retrieve a package after nearly a week of missed deliveries and conflicting tracking information.

"Friday of last week, it was on the truck, out for delivery," Wood said. "I called Monday, and they said they were going to have a supervisor call me. I never heard from a supervisor, so I decided to come here."

UPS is discouraging customers from doing just that. Matt O'Connor, a UPS spokesperson, told NBC Bay Area the "vast majority" of its packages are arriving within their delivery window, but he acknowledged the Georgia-based shipper acknowledged it's dealing with a huge surge in demand.

"As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are delivering volume similar to the peak holiday shipping season," O'Connor said. "About 70% of our deliveries [are going] to residences, compared to about 50% during the rest of the year."

UPS said coronavirus safety considerations are also a priority, so it's not allowing two workers to share one of its familiar brown trucks, with one driving and the other making deliveries.

"Because of social distancing, we are not able to have driver-helpers on our package cars to assist with making deliveries," O'Connor said.

Instead, drivers are going solo, meaning it can take longer to finish a delivery route.

UPS says that also explains why you might see tracking information showing a package has arrived at its Oakland distribution center, but not going out for delivery right away.

Here's what UPS recommends: sign up for UPS My Choice on the company's website. It's a free service that lets you see detailed delivery status updates, and you can even set delivery preferences -- like whether a driver should leave a package at the back door, or hidden from plain view behind landscaping.

Another option: UPS says you also can direct deliveries to a UPS Access Point locker, with many locations inside stores like CVS and Michael's.

However, UPS says customers might not want to show up at the Oakland facility to pick up items themselves. It says some customers waited in line, only to discover that while they were in line, their box was put on a truck and taken to their home.

UPS said it has suspended its money back guarantee due to the pandemic. Its main competitor, FedEx, has done the same.

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