One of the world's biggest shipping and delivery companies has caused a festive uproar for telling parents they would shred any letter their children wrote to Santa.

In a now deleted tweet UPS wrote: "If your child addresses a letter to the North Pole, you can leave it with us.

"We do shredding."

The comment was retweeted nearly 5,000 times before suddenly being deleted, but the people of Twitter have already passed judgement.

One Twitter user replied: "Can you also flip off my child and tell him there is no Santa for an additional cost?"

Image: UPS is one of the world's biggest shipping and delivery companies

One asked: "Who hurt you, UPS?"

Another said: "This night, your social media manager will be visited by three ghosts."

#PeekIntoPeak “By stopping by the local workshop to address postcards to the children whove written to Santa.”

– Eric Nieves, Santas volunteer postal helper, Supervisor Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Miami, FL

— U.S. Postal Service (@USPS) December 15, 2018

A company spokesman said the tweet was deleted after "negative feedback" and said: "We in no way wanted to be a grinch, and we in no way wanted to take away from Christmas and the holidays."

But despite the backlash, some people loved the company's marketing technique.

One joked it made them a "big fan" of the shipping company, and another said it was a "thing of beauty".

Although the rival US Postal Service didn't respond directly to the UPS tweet, they did share a picture of one of their staff members dressed as an elf, next to a Christmas display and a letterbox marked "letters to Santa".

They also showed a different employee writing postcards in response to children who had sent their wish lists to the North Pole.

More from US

In the USA, a postal worker who "destroys, detains, delays, or opens any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail" in his or her possession can face a fine and up to five years in prison.

UPS has been sharing Christmas-related tweets for the last few weeks, including one recent observation that "any paper can be wrapping paper if you use it right."

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