Postcard from... New York
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Friday 27 December 2013
It is a Christmas ritual for millions: last minute gifts, hurriedly bought and hurriedly dispatched, sometimes at great cost to ensure that everything is in place on Christmas Eve. You could see it in motion last week: stores in popular New York shopping districts were heaving with customers. The giant Macy’s at Herald Square seemed to be bursting at the seams. The same went for the shops along Fifth Avenue.
Unfortunately, many of the gifts bought and dispatched in the pre-holiday rush didn’t make it to the tree in time. An early sign that something was wrong came on social media, with scores of irate customers venting their fury at delayed shipments.
“My package was supposed to arrive Monday. It is not here for Christmas!,” said Keith Burrows from Florida. Michael Yanikoski from Massachusetts also took to Twitter on Christmas afternoon: “My Christmas Honeybaked ham is sitting in a warehouse 15 miles from here. Ordered on 12/20 next day air.”
It soon emerged that Santa’s sleigh, in the form of the UPS delivery network, had in fact broken down. The company had planned for 132 million deliveries around the world last week. But the actual number had exceeded its estimate. Delays were also reported with rival FedEx.
Still, even as some expressed their anger, others urged people to spare a thought for the drivers. “I stand behind UPS and their drivers,” said Brenda Letsinger. “My kid’s dad has been there for over 20 years and I’ve never seen a harder worker.”
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