Here's an unusual holiday recipe: combine an Internet hoax about UPS uniforms purloined by terrorists, an unusually busy season for online holiday purchases, and UPS (UPS) renting Uhaul trucks to keep up with deliveries, and what do you get?
A case of mistaken identities, with some residents calling the police after seeing UPS delivery workers in Uhaul trucks. The concerns arose after the resurfacing of an old Internet hoax, which claims that terrorists have bought UPS uniforms to impersonate the delivery workers and help them carry out attacks. But those reports have long been debunked, with the FBI investigating the rumors and finding nothing awry, according to urban legend site Snopes.com.
There's also increased concern about thieves swiping packages from porches and doorsteps when residents aren't home, with InsuranceQuotes.com finding that 23 million Americans have experienced package theft. Some residents may worry that the UPS workers in Uhaul trucks are actually thieves putting on disguises. Not so, according to UPS.
Consumers shouldn't be surprised to see UPS delivery workers in Uhaul trucks and rental vehicles from other companies this holiday season, especially as the delivery service copes with an unexpectedly high number of deliveries. During the week of Cyber Monday, UPS had an on-time delivery rate of about 91 percent, down from 97 percent a year earlier, according to software developer ShipMatrix.
While UPS pledged to hire as many as 95,000 holiday workers this year -- on par with 2014 -- the number of packages ordered through online retailers has surged. Consumers spent $3.07 billion on Cyber Monday, a boost of 16 percent from 2014 and about 3 percent higher than forecast by Adobe Systems.
"Using rental vehicles is a cost effective way of temporarily expanding our delivery fleet to address the increased package volume around the holidays," UPS spokeswoman Kim Krebs said. She declined to provide the number of rental vehicles the company is using this year, although she notes that the company has relied on other companies' fleets in the past.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, UPS expects to deliver about 630 million packages, an increase of 10 percent from last year.
There are two simple ways to make sure the person driving the Uhaul is really from UPS: they'll be wearing the company's familiar brown uniform and carrying an electronic clipboard that they use to record delivery information, she added.
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