When it comes to the holiday season, certain industries transform from mundane and routine to absolutely nightmarish hellscapes. The shipping industry certainly falls into this category.
For those of us who still remember the advent of widespread email in the 1990’s, the unforgettable panic of the US Postal Service has become an almost hilarious side note. The USPS was seriously concerned with the amount of letter and stamp revenue that they would concede to this newfangled internet thing, and talk of an industry wide collapse were imminent.
Little did the USPS and their privately owned competitors know that the rise of e-commerce would come to save them in a very, very big way.
Now, with Americans doing ever-more shopping from home via the world wide web, companies such as UPS and FedEx, along with the government’s USPS, are all reaping the benefits of a massive increase in package traffic. Things are so good, in fact, that UPS is falling far behind in their Christmas shipping schedule. That has led to a bizarre tactical maneuver: Recruiting corporate accountants to drive delivery trucks in the run-up to Christmas Day.
“Hustling to deliver a crush of holiday shipments before Christmas, United Parcel Service Inc. is using hundreds of its accountants, marketers and other office staff to deliver packages at the last minute.
“UPS normally has ‘ready teams,’ or office workers that help to sort, load or deliver packages, that it sends out to clear problem spots throughout the network. The initial sign ups are voluntary and usually set weeks before the busiest periods.
“But UPS had to supplement those workers this year by calling in employees from various desk jobs with little notice. Some are delivering packages using their personal vehicles. A shift to online shopping coupled with a tight market for seasonal workers left gaps in manpower across the delivery network.
“UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said ‘several hundred’ office employees have been assigned to various operations roles, from sorting packages to assisting drivers as seasonal helpers, over the last few weeks. He acknowledged the number was higher than in the past but declined to say by how much.”
You had one job, UPS. One job.