UPS missed the Nantucket Ferry reservation window

UPS missed a priority window to make ferry reservations for its trucks to travel to Nantucket this summer – leaving businesses scrambling to accommodate affluent locals and wealthy visitors.

The Sea Mail did not request reservations for its trucks during an initial priority window before ferries for Tony’s Island’s busiest season, May to October, were booked at nearby their ability, reported the Boston Globe.

“This is going to throw us into a world of pain,” Shantaw Bloise, business manager at the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce, told the newspaper. “I can’t imagine how we will be able to operate relying solely on DHL, FedEx and the Postal Service.”

James Malkin, a board member of the Steamship Authority, which regulates ferry operations between mainland Massachusetts and Nantucket, said UPS did not respond last fall when it sent documents to shippers freight to make ferry reservations for this summer.

UPS did not request reservations for its trucks until ferries for the island’s busiest season were booked near capacity.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
A logo is displayed on a package as it moves along a conveyor belt at the United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) Utah Regional Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., Monday, March 11, 2019.
A UPS spokesperson said the courier was working to find other solutions.
Kim Raff/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Steamship Authority even asked why UPS didn’t respond before reservations opened to the public, Malkin said.

“Someone at UPS dropped the ball,” he told The Globe.

It’s unclear exactly when, but at some point “the light bulb went out” and UPS recognized the error and picked up all available reservations for its trucks to reach the Nantucket distribution center, said Malkin.

UPS pictured July 12, 2021 in Berlin, Germany.
A member of the Steamship Authority thinks “someone at UPS dropped the ball”.
Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

“But they don’t have what they need,” Malkin continued.

Stephanie Correia, who operates Stephanie’s, a clothing and home goods store on Main Street, said UPS was a “lifeline” for businesses like hers and wondered how the company could dropping the ball so blatantly.

“You cross your Ts and dot your Is,” Correia told The Globe. “I’ve been in business for 26 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

A ferry passes by the Brant Point Lighthouse in Nantucket, MA on November 17, 2021
A Nantucket store owner said she was even considering transporting her goods to the island herself.
Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A message seeking comment from UPS was not immediately returned early Monday, but a company spokesperson said the courier was working to find other solutions.

“UPS has ferry reservations and is working on other transportation options to ensure packages are delivered to the island on time during the busy summer season,” UPS told The Globe.

UPS ferry reservations to Martha’s Vineyard appear unaffected, the Globe reported, although joint reservations for the two islands are usually requested on the same form.

But if UPS’s outage to Nantucket isn’t resolved by May, retailers and ordinary residents could suffer the consequences of low supplies of food, fuel and appliances.

“We get two UPS deliveries a day,” Vanessa Moore of Nantucket Housefitters told The Globe. “Our customers won’t get the tiles for their bathroom floors.”

But simply adding capacity to scare shippers might not be feasible, a Steamship Authority spokesperson said.

Packages displaying major Inc. logos descend into a chute at a United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) Worldport facility in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. United Parcel Service Inc. is expected to publish Profit figures as of January 30.
UPS recognized the error and retrieved all available reservations for its trucks to reach the Nantucket distribution center.
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“We’re basically at the maximum number of routes right now in terms of the number of boats and crew members,” spokesman Sean Driscoll said. “There might be a few trips here and there, we might add, but not on a systemic basis… There is no secret tunnel for freight shippers.”

A Nantucket store owner, meanwhile, told Bloise that she was even considering transporting her goods to the island herself.

“People are going to have to get creative,” the business manager of the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce told The Globe.

About Michael B. Billingsley

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