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You can still ship it there in time. But it'll cost you.

Late shopping leads to late shipping, and the price of getting it there by Saturday doesn't dissuade many people.

Associated Press
Published December 22, 2005

ATLANTA - It doesn't usually take this long for Ron Rodriguez to send his holiday gifts, but this year things just kind of got away from him.

He stood in line Wednesday at a UPS Store in midtown Atlanta with a steady stream of customers. The total for sending the baby toys, kitchen utensils and Italian leather shaving kit by next-day air to relatives in Boston, Minneapolis and Washington: $167.

"I'm working from home today. It's the only way I could get this done," said Rodriguez, 41, who does video-on-demand work for the cable industry. Of the bill, he said, "There's nothing you can do about it."

Last-minute shoppers needn't worry about getting their gifts to loved ones in time for the holidays with major shippers like UPS Inc. and FedEx Corp. offering Christmas Eve delivery on items sent to most U.S. addresses by Friday, but they could pay plenty for waiting.

"There are premium services available to the procrastinators, but planes are expensive and you'll see that in the pricing," Steve Holmes of UPS said.

United Parcel Service and FedEx charge $12.50 for guaranteed Saturday delivery, on top of what it costs to send packages to destinations based on size, distance and amount of insurance.

That hasn't stopped the swell of customers from sending packages at the last minute. UPS' busiest day of the year for air shipments was Wednesday, when it expected to ship 5-million packages by air, 21/2 times what it ships by air on a normal day.

The peace of mind in knowing his packages will get to family members in time for the holiday makes the extra fees worth it, said Tommy Nix, a furniture and gift shop store owner who sent a candle holder and vase to relatives in Daphne, Ala., by next-day air at the UPS Store in Atlanta.

"I've been procrastinating," said Nix, whose shop is next door to the UPS Store. "It's something I forgot. This has been one of those years when it hasn't happened right."

The last-minute Saturday delivery guarantees offered by UPS and FedEx are good for packages sent to most locations in the United States. Exceptions include some remote areas and New York City, where the shippers have suspended next-day and second-day air time guarantees during the transit strike.

Carla Boyd of FedEx said customers can go online to find out where the Saturday guarantee does and doesn't apply. She said the company shipped 8.9-million packages on its overall peak day on Monday. There was a steady stream of customers in FedEx Kinkos stores on Wednesday, she said.

[Last modified December 22, 2005, 00:58:15]

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