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Amazon offers gift cards to customers hit by Christmas delivery delays

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You can bet Amazon wishes it already had its proposed drone-based delivery service up and flying instead of having to rely solely on the likes of UPS and FedEx to get items to customers.

The two shipping giants have reportedly fallen behind with deliveries in the US after being taken by surprise by the huge number of packages entering their respective networks last week. Of course, many of these items were bought online as gifts for friends and family, with shoppers taking extra care to order before the Christmas deadline.

Amazon hasn’t said how many of its customers have been hit by the delays this week, though it’s promising to hand out $20 gift cards and offer shipping-charge refunds to those left waiting.

The e-commerce giant said in a message to affected customers that while its own fulfillment centers had processed the orders in time for delivery before Christmas Day, the shipping companies had experienced issues with their respective transportation networks and delivery systems. Amazon added that it was “reviewing the performance of the delivery carriers.”

UPS admitted it had been experiencing problems with its service, telling the Wall Street Journal, “The volume of air packages in the UPS system did exceed capacity as demand was much greater than our forecast.”

While FedEx said on its website Thursday that its employees had “delivered outstanding service during this holiday season, and we experienced no major service disruptions,” an unnamed customer support agent working for the company told NBC News Wednesday that a spike in orders close to Christmas, plus bad weather in parts of the country, had resulted in “extraordinary” delays.

The fact that some retailers this year pushed back order deadline’s for guaranteed delivery put even more pressure on companies like UPS and FedEx.

Expecting a surge in online orders, Amazon this year hired 70,000 seasonal workers for its US fulfillment centers, marking a 40 percent increase on the year before. Without a decent delivery service, Amazon would of course have no hope of operating a successful business, and while we don’t know how many of its customers were affected by this week’s delays, you can be sure the Seattle-based company will be looking very carefully at different ways to guarantee on-time delivery and improve its service. You never know, we might see its Prime Air drones taking to the skies sooner than you think.

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