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Online shopping surge may be causing delivery delays, UPS union rep says

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PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — It can be frustrating to order something and not have any idea when it will arrive.

“Would a customer be willing to come back in two or three weeks to order something else if they think it’s going to be delayed two or three weeks?” Steven Porter asked.

Porter is the owner of Stillwater Books in Pawtucket, which just celebrated its two-year anniversary. He said package delays are causing him frustration and affecting his reliability with his customers.

“It creates a problem when you’re talking to a customer who asks for a specific order and of course, the first question they want to know is: when is the book coming in?” Porter said. “And when you can’t give them an answer, it’s almost forcing them to other resources.”

Porter said they’ve been experiencing delays on a daily basis.

“We have problems with getting books in from our wholesalers and then once they’re here, we often ship them out,” he explained.

Matthew Maini, an agent with Teamsters Local 251, told Target 12 the “Emergency or Weather-Related Delay” message is a COVID-19-related issue.

“They’ve been delayed because of the amount of volume that people are purchasing at on the internet,” he said.

According to Maini, the number of orders coming in seems to be causing a backlog of shipments across the country.

“Some packages have been delayed up to a week and a half, two weeks,” he added.

He said it’s more prominent in densely populated areas like Rhode Island.

“I’ve been at UPS almost 30 years and I’ve never seen the amount of online purchasing until I’ve seen this,” Maini said. “The amount of volume coming through the door, whether it’s electronic devices, furniture, grills, medical supplies, pills, you name it. It’s everything.”

Maini said drivers are trying to keep up with the demand and stay on top of shipments but it’s been stressful.

“Remember, these men and women are putting their lives on the line every day and leaving their homes upwards to 14 hours a day, if not more, to bring you your supplies so that you stay safe and you can continue the quality of life that you have,” he said.

Target 12 reached out to UPS for comment. In an email, the company wrote they “aren’t experiencing delays at the facility at this time.” 

But Porter feels differently.

“Some of our packages as late as two to three weeks. Sometimes it’s two or three days. There doesn’t seem to be a particular pattern to it, other than they’re all late and at some level,” he said.

Maini said UPS is currently hiring drivers and other workers at the Warwick facility to help alleviate the influx of orders.

“These are good jobs. These are jobs that are paying upwards of $100,000 a year for a driver,” he said.

“By this September, if there is an upsurge in the virus again, when it comes back, we’re going to see even more volume coming through the door,” Maini continued. “We’re gearing up now to make sure our customers receive their goods in a timely manner and we can meet our timelines and our guides.”

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