Bare Necessities Blindsided by UPS Issues

Dec 30, 2013 1:47 PM  By

Bare Necessities COO Bill Richardson

Bare Necessities COO Bill Richardson

Intimate apparel merchant Bare Necessities rolled the dice with UPS as it does every holiday season.

Bare Necessities was so confident in its relationship with UPS that it pushed the limits with guaranteed on-time delivery for Christmas: UPS Next Day Air orders placed by 3 p.m. EST on Dec. 23 would be under the tree.

But that didn’t happen. UPS posted a service update today that alerted customers that a “vast majority” of packages scheduled to arrive on-time for Christmas will be delivered on Dec. 26.

[RELATED ARTICLE: FedEx Failed For Yankee Candle]

And even after Dec. 26, some of those packages shipped by Bare Necessities still had not been delivered by the carrier.

Though Bare Necessities ships via FedEx and UPS and uses both shippers’ last mile services with the United States Postal Service, chief operating officer Bill Richardson told Multichannel Merchant the majority of packages it shipped that had not arrived on time were being carried by UPS.

“I talked with some of our top customer service folks today, and they told me a disproportionate amount of packages that we’re not delivered on time were shipped via UPS,” Richardson told Multichannel Merchant on Dec. 27.

Richardson said he wants to get a big picture view of the shipping issues before he sits down and talks with UPS.

[VIDEO: What Went Wrong and Who's to Blame for Missed Christmas Shipments?]

Richardson described the carriers as a vital part of Bare Necessities’ customer experience, an extension of the Bare Necessities brand. Richardson said Bare Necessities has given customers whose packages did not arrive on time full shipping refunds in the past. This time around, Bare Necessities is also giving customers free return shipping.

To keep the customer happy, Richardson said Bare Necessities is also planning an incentive-based discount to get those customers to try them again.

Richardson said it’s about building the long-term relationship with its customers, as well as standing by its service guarantees.

[RELATED: 12% of Christmas Gifts Ordered at Standard Cutoff Dates Did Not Arrive]

“We’re relying on these guys [the carriers] to do the service they do,” Richardson said. “In general they do a great job. But failure at this time of year is inexcusable.”

Richardson said he also had a bad personal experience this holiday season with UPS. His sister had made a Christmas stocking for his 6-year-old daughter, and timed it so it would arrive from the West Coast via next day air on Christmas Eve.

The stocking made it from California to Newark through the air without a hitch, but it got delayed on the ground in Newark and did not get to the Richardson’s home until the Dec. 26.

And the reason for the delay, according to Richardson’s tracking, was a “plane equipment failure,” which Richardson said made him question the real reason for the failed delivery.

[VIDEO: Did Missed Christmas Deliveries Damage Consumer Trust?]

  • Caroline H Ragsdale

    Dear Tim,
    Thank you for your article about the shipping debacle this Christmas Season with UPS. My company, Caroline’s Cakes, has shipped with UPS for 15 years. From my garage, to our first rented bakery and now from our new expanded bakery in Spartanburg, SC. We have been shipping out of the Spartanburg UPS hub for 15 months.
    This past Thanksgiving we also had packages held up, not getting to their destinations at the appropriate time. Working with our UPS representative we were told that UPS was not prepared for the Thanksgiving shipment load. That UPS was understaffed and a domino effect took place causing late planes and late deliveries.
    We were assured that UPS had recognized their short comings, had put measures in place so that it would not happen again, and that we could be assured that all of our Christmas deliveries were going to be delivered on time.
    Fortunately we planned for the worst at Caroline’s Cakes, packed cakes with extra dry ice and had our first packages ready for pick up by 11 each morning. UPS pickups for later in the day would have been for orders coming in throughout that given day.
    We were shipping up to 4,000 packages a day during the busiest part of the Holiday Season.
    A decision was made at Caroline’s Cakes to upgrade all orders that came in after 7:00pm on December 22. Out of these December 23 shipments thirteen percent of these shipments were caught up in the ineffectiveness of UPS’s planning for the 2013 Season.
    What I do not understand is this:
    Since the Spring of 2013 I had been reading article after article in merchandising magazines and retail advisory blogs that:
    1) There were six less shopping days between
    Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.
    2) That more people had become comfortable with shopping on the
    web. This was going to cause stronger internet sales, more
    shipping and possibly some concern for retail storefront sales.
    3) With all of the concerns we have had about our economy in the
    last years that surprisingly people seemed to be spending more.

    To me this read that ‘you better be ready’ for the Holiday Season of 2013. It seemed a pretty certain roll of the dice that shipments were going to be up, and they were. That more people were going to be shopping on the web, and they were. And that people were going to be ordering more with their purchases, and they were.

    We at Caroline’s Cakes have a choice to ship with UPS or FedEx.
    A customer on the other hand has a choice to choose from many different cake companies.
    When UPS or FedEx do not do their part and deliver our shipments in a timely manner the blame falls on us at Caroline’s Cakes as it does with all other companies.
    Interesting, but the fact.

    Enough said.
    Thank you for your article,
    We at Caroline’s Cakes certainly appreciated it.
    Caroline Ragsdale
    Caroline’s Cakes

  • Tim Parry

    Thanks, Caroline. Was service improved during the Christmas season?