Why Is UPS So Slow? (10 Reasons Why It’s Taking So Long)

Waiting on a package can be an agonizing process, and it’s a process we’ve all been through at least once. So why is UPS specifically so slow sometimes, and is there anything you can do about it?

While waiting for a package can feel like torture to the recipient, UPS employees typically have it just as bad, if not worse- keep reading to learn more about what happens behind the scenes of package delays!

Why Is UPS So Slow In 2024?

1. Unprecedented World Events

Shipping companies like UPS have been feeling some serious effects in 2020-2022, due to recent world events involving health and safety measures.

With greater restrictions being placed on the number of people that can occupy a given space, as well as employees having to quarantine, UPS is running on fewer people than ever.

That means there are fewer people to transport, sort, and deliver packages overall, which means longer delivery times for the rest of us.

To read more about how these events have affected UPS, check out this article.

2. Labor Shortage

Alongside recent events, a labor shortage has swept nations like America, which have little to no safety net for many workers.

While many UPS jobs offer fair benefits and pay, over the last couple years, a light has been shone on many inequities in workplaces across the US.

This is especially true for blue-collar jobs, like warehouse workers and truckers.

Many UPS locations rely on these blue-collar workers in order to get packages out, and despite their best efforts, UPS is having a difficult time retaining employees.

More and more people are seeking jobs that have work-from-home opportunities, which leads to jobs that must be done in-person, like those at UPS, seeing a drop in employee numbers.

This is especially impactful for UPS in regards to delivery times.

With fewer people driving the trucks carrying packages, and fewer people waiting to load, unload, and sort the packages from these trucks, there are fewer packages being delivered on time.

3. High Volume of Packages

Another way the effects of 2020-2022 has affected UPS delivery times is the exponential increase in online shopping.

With so many people across the world being unable to visit local stores to meet their needs, as well as spending more time at home, online shopping in the US nearly tripled across 2020 and 2021.

The insane increase in the number of packages UPS needs to deliver, coupled with factors such as a labor shortage, has crippled UPS’ ability to be as fast in terms of delivery times as it used to.

4. UPS Routes and Schedules Are Pre-Planned

If you’ve noticed your packages in particular always seem to get pushed back or delivered later in the day than everyone else, it could be because of UPS’ pre-planned routes and schedules.

The average UPS delivery driver handles at least 200 packages a day by themselves, on routes that can take up to 10 hours to travel.

If you’re located at the end of that delivery route, then your packages, at best, will get to you at the very end of your courier’s day.

At worse, however, if your courier has more packages than usual, your package will get pushed off to the following day’s deliveries.

This is also true for packages shipped using services like UPS Ground or UPS Air Saver.

There are certain packages that are prioritized for delivery first, like those going to commercial addresses, such as businesses, and those shipped using services like UPS Next Day Air Early.

If your package doesn’t fall into one of those categories, chances are it’ll be delivered later, especially if there’s a high number of prioritized packages.

5. Last-Mile Delivery

5. Last-Mile Delivery UPS

If you’re at all familiar with the different shipping companies out there, and their advantages/disadvantages, I’m sure you’ve heard of last-mile delivery.

If not, then last-mile delivery can be summarized as the routes drivers take to deliver packages.

These routes are all stop-and-start, long, arduous paths that cost companies like UPS a ton of money in terms of time, resources, and employees.

Because last-mile delivery is such a difficult part of the shipping industry, companies like UPS offer hybrid shipping services with USPS so that they don’t have to spend as much time and money on these efforts.

While hybrid shipping services can be incredibly convenient, they can also confuse things, since so many packages must be handed off, leading to longer delivery times.

Even outside of the industry and company-wide issues, there are things that can happen to individual shipments, geographical areas, and packages that lead to slower delivery times.

These individual issues are known as delivery exceptions, and the most common ones are all listed below.

6. Incorrect Address or Label Damage

One of the most common, and most avoidable, types of delivery exceptions is a package with a damaged label or incorrect address.

If your package has an address that is missing information, incorrectly written, or unreadable due to damage, UPS will notify you via the tracking feature.

After the mistake is caught, you can reach out to update the information to help speed things along, but if you or the shipper isn’t keeping a close watch on the tracking info, then the package can be returned to sender, delaying delivery exponentially.

7. Inclement Weather

Poor weather conditions are another extremely common type of delivery exception.

While there’s nothing you can do to resolve a delivery exception due to bad weather, you can take heart in knowing that these exceptions are typically resolved in a day or two.

Types of inclement weather that can lead to a delivery day are extreme conditions such as ice, tornados, hurricanes, extremely dense fog, or anything that makes roads unsafe to travel.

8. National Holidays

Delivery exceptions can also occur around national holidays, as many companies (UPS included) can be closed.

National holidays like Christmas can also result in exceptionally high volumes of packages, which can bog down UPS’ delivery system and result in late deliveries.

9. Incorrect Label Information

Outside of the previously mentioned “damaged label” delivery exception, another type of delivery exception can occur when the label contains incorrect information.

This can be something like an address, which is covered above, but more common incorrect label delivery exceptions have to do with the stated dimensions or weight of the package.

The dimensions and weight of your package are both key factors in determining how much the shipping company, in this case UPS, charges in shipping costs.

If your package has been accepted with a label that doesn’t accurately reflect aspects of your package (ex. weight/dimensions or declared value), your package can come to a grinding halt.

The best way to avoid this is by carefully measuring, weighing, and documenting your package when printing a label yourself.

You can also go to an approved UPS location to have an employee help take care of these factors for you.

10. Package Loss or Damage

It’s an unfortunate but honest part of the shipping industry- sometimes the reason your delivery is taking so long is that your package has been lost or damaged.

If you’re concerned that this is the issue for your delivery’s delay, you can file a claim with UPS after waiting 24 hours past your package’s stated delivery date.

To file a claim, you can visit this page of the UPS website, and attach as much information and supporting documents (ex. emails and receipts) as possible.

If your package was indeed lost or damaged, UPS will issue you a refund and pay the insurance on the package that was purchased at the time of shipping.

To know more, you can also read our posts on what does “in transit” mean at UPS, if UPS sends text messages, and what does “out for delivery” mean at UPS.


UPS has been slowed down recently due to a number of reasons, including the world events of 2020-2021, labor shortages, and industry-wide challenges, not to mention the already existing potential for individual issues and delivery exceptions.

While it can be difficult to be patient when waiting for a package, it’s important to keep in mind that UPS has no reason to hold out on you. 9 times out of 10, the company is working as hard as possible to get packages out the door and to their rightful owners.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

5 thoughts on “Why Is UPS So Slow? (10 Reasons Why It’s Taking So Long)”

  1. Forget all these excuses and get those packages delivered or shut it down. As simple as that. What kind of outfit are we running here. Fire every last driver and supervisor and start over with people who know what they’re doing.

  2. Quit with the diversity hire crap and pay good people what they are worth. UPS has diversity hire praises all over their website. They cant get workers because good people don’t want to deal with diversity hire discrimination. You are going to see more and more companies lower their standards because they are kicking out the people that made it run for DEI.

  3. 100% agreement there. DEI is crap, and is actually a weapon IMHO to bring down the system so they can “build back better” with their dystopian control.

  4. I agree, what is UPS doing to the drivers. Some are not working all week and how do they take care for their families, by food .make house payments ? Many will lose everything. Maybe that is what they are trying to do. Come on UPS get it together stop the excuses and be loyal to your drivers that give you a good days work.

  5. Sent 6 Pkgs. out Dec. 28th and of the 6 only 2 have made it to their destination. Ridiculous, being told it is because of the back to back holidays. Again, ridiculous.

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