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7-11 Amazon delivery lockers
September 12, 2011 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Unholy alliance of convenience: 7-11 Amazon delivery lockers (US / UK).
posted by stbalbach (169 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
What's "unholy" about this?
posted by grouse at 10:47 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


NEVAR FORGET.

Oh wait...
posted by chavenet at 10:49 AM on September 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


GeekWire has been closely following the developments of Amazon.com’s new delivery locker system at 7-Eleven, in part because it represents a novel method by which customers can receive their packages from the online retailer.

Um, I'm pretty sure post office boxes have been around for a while.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:51 AM on September 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Finally!

Ever since I pissed off Amazon's customer service, all my orders have been arriving with the words "FRAGILE: CONTAINS DILDOS" stamped all over the box. It's really embarassing, especially considering as it's only true, like, half the time.
posted by griphus at 10:52 AM on September 12, 2011 [44 favorites]


Can't wait to hear the after-bar crowd complain that not one of these microwaves will heat their burrito.
posted by hal9k at 10:52 AM on September 12, 2011 [26 favorites]


Finally, Amazon will be able to serve the millions of homeless people who long to buy things from their online store.
posted by koeselitz at 10:52 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The unholy part is that it means Yet Another Privatization Of A Formerly Public Service, in this case, the Post Office.
posted by DU at 10:53 AM on September 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Nothing surprises me about this. What did surprise me, however, was the other day I drove by one of the local universities. Across the street from the campus was a 7-Eleven with a big banner reading "we process OSAP here" (or similar wording).

Now I know I'm ancient, but back in the day Ontario Student Assistant Program loans and grants could only be processed at a bank or credit union. I have no idea how a convenience store is able to process OSAP. That's much closer to unholy than Amazon drop-boxes.
posted by sardonyx at 10:54 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um, I'm pretty sure post office boxes have been around for a while.

I suppose Amazon knows, like we all do, that Post Offices will soon be an endangered species.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:54 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Actually, homeless people being able to buy things from Amazon would seem to be a good thing. My snarking is silly.)
posted by koeselitz at 10:55 AM on September 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


This seems super convenient. A lot of people I know won't get packages delivered to their home because of security issues. Now, if only they could manage to open a 7/11 within the city limits...

that's right, the 5 closest 7/11's to me are in Canada
posted by ofthestrait at 10:56 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think this is brilliant. Sure I live in an affluent enough neighborhood where mail thefts aren't common, but I see a number of those smiley boxes sitting outside of apt. doors all the time, and I've had enough issues with UPS leaving my packages to whomever felt like signing for them that I'd think about using them myself. Plus, 7-11's hours are WAY better than the post office or the FedEx/UPS store
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:56 AM on September 12, 2011


This is also a fantastic way to purchase inflatable vibrating butt-plugs
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:56 AM on September 12, 2011


Hmm, order from Amazon, wait a few days, then drive a few miles to the one of two 7/11s in my city or drive a few miles to the store and buy something right there? Amazon better hope the postal service doesn't go anywhere.

Say, does anyone else remember when things were supposed to get better in the future-- not worse?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:57 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Finally, Amazon will be able to serve the millions of homeless people who long to buy things from their online store.

I've lived in theft-prone, but otherwise safe areas of cities. Places where leaving an Amazon package may as well be throwing it away. At the same time, I don't want UPS making me come to their distribution center, since it's miles away in the suburbs, and I don't own a car.

I wouldn't need this service now, but the me of 6 years ago would've found it remarkably useful.
posted by explosion at 10:57 AM on September 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


It seems like a decent idea. I've lived at places before where I would NOT want to receive a package for fear of having it stolen, and had to mail it to my parents' house and then pick it up.

A need that this may fill that a P.O. box doesn't is that these don't require state issued ID to use, which may be useful for immigrants, or people who are living in abusive relationships and can't trust the location they'd normally pick up mail.

The unholy part is that it means Yet Another Privatization Of A Formerly Public Service, in this case, the Post Office.

I agree, that's the first thing I thought of when I saw it. I'm hoping that this doesn't take too much business away from them.
posted by codacorolla at 10:57 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eh, this seems like a halfway decent solution for people who live in places where assholes snatch packages off of doorsteps.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:58 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suppose Amazon knows, like we all do, that Post Offices will soon be an endangered species.

That, and the fact that the post office doesn't accept FedEx or other express shipping. And not all of us can be at home to wait for the FedEx guy.

This seems like a great solution to my first-world problem of wanting to get something shipped to me fast over the internet while avoiding state sales taxes (I keed, I keed)--but not being home to sign for it.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:59 AM on September 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Post Offices will soon be an endangered species.

That'll mean a lot of disgruntlement.
posted by jonmc at 11:00 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


7-11 Amazon delivery lockers

I count a total of 40 in that picture.
posted by hal9k at 11:00 AM on September 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Given the way certain delivery services have taken to walking halfway up my sidewalk and then throwing the box at the front porch (my husband works at home, facing out a front window, and has seen this), this might actually be useful to me.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:00 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Security + 24 hours of availability = very good news for lots of people, people who don't have a good place to receive those things and who work hours that preclude a box at a PO or MBetc or whatever.
posted by carsonb at 11:00 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your slurpee delivered to your box, in 24 hours or it's free!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:00 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know at least one Mefite who will be over the moon about this, and that's kittens for breakfast. He's got a plethora of Amazon-UPS-nondelivery stories to share, believe me!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:01 AM on September 12, 2011


MetaFilter: FRAGILE: CON... no I just can't do it.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:01 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


A need that this may fill that a P.O. box doesn't is that these don't require state issued ID to use, which may be useful for immigrants, or people who are living in abusive relationships and can't trust the location they'd normally pick up mail.

A P.O. box doesn't help at all for receiving Amazon packages. FedEx, UPS and other carriers that Amazon uses don't ship to P.O. boxes so it's not possible to use that as your address when ordering something. To get a mailbox that can be used by Amazon you would need to buy a mailbox at a place like a UPS Store which is generally a lot more expensive than a P.O. box and a lot less conveniently located than a 7-11.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


Fedex and UPS have been in the private shipping business for rather a long time, I don't see this as any significant additional encroachment on USPS. Besides, stuff still has to get shipped to the 7-11s somehow. They'll probably still use a combo of USPS/UPS/Fedex for that. And it's just an option. You can still get stuff delivered like normal.
posted by kmz at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2011


> I suppose Amazon knows, like we all do, that Post Offices will soon be an endangered species.

Big cuts are already on the table. The USPS isn't exactly "public" but it isn't private either. It's inevitable that it will be face changes as shipping habits change. I don't think the privatization of public services angle is a particularly good comparison in the USPS's case.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:04 AM on September 12, 2011


What did surprise me, however, was the other day I drove by one of the local universities. Across the street from the campus was a 7-Eleven with a big banner reading "we process OSAP here" (or similar wording).

What will really surprise you is that 7-11 is also a bank.
posted by Hoopo at 11:05 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does Amazon even use the USPS for anything? I've been a regular customer for years and I don't think I've ever had an order delievered by anything other than UPS or more recently, DHL or Lasership.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:05 AM on September 12, 2011


This is also a fantastic way to purchase inflatable vibrating butt-plugs

Nobody keeps secrets like private companies willing to do anything to make a buck.

The USPS isn't exactly "public" but it isn't private either.

It used to be public. Is this really the right direction? (Hint: No.)
posted by DU at 11:06 AM on September 12, 2011


back in the day Ontario Student Assistant Program loans and grants could only be processed at a bank or credit union

7-11 has hooked itself up to the credit union shared branching system; lots of the stores have what is basically a glorified ATM under the V-com brand. These are not your standard convenience store ATMs; you can cash checks, make transfers, etc., and there are no fees for credit union members.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:06 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


A P.O. box doesn't help at all for receiving Amazon packages. FedEx, UPS and other carriers that Amazon uses don't ship to P.O. boxes so it's not possible to use that as your address when ordering something. To get a mailbox that can be used by Amazon you would need to buy a mailbox at a place like a UPS Store which is generally a lot more expensive than a P.O. box and a lot less conveniently located than a 7-11.

Ah, well there you go.

I wish that the government was on the cutting edge of providing package delivery to underserved populations, but I can't help but think that this is a good step.
posted by codacorolla at 11:07 AM on September 12, 2011


I'm sitting in the living room right now when I'd rather be anywhere else (it's hot in here) because I'm waiting on an Amazon package. There isn't anywhere for the deliveryperson to leave it and if I go anywhere else in the house I might not get get to the door in time (they do move on quickly). I've done this countless times before. There are no UPS or FedEx places near me where I could pick up packages, but there IS a 7-11. All that to say I would LOVE this. Of course, me and the 7-11 are located in the ghetto so even if this catches on it will reach here by 2017 maybe but still, I think it's great.
posted by Danila at 11:07 AM on September 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


If I'm understanding correctly, you have to rent the box? What would be cool (but slightly less profitable) would be if you didn't have to pay for the boxes and you just used them temporarily, entering an emailed pin to open the door.
posted by drezdn at 11:07 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does Amazon even use the USPS for anything?

Despite my comment above, I nearly never need nothing in no hurry--so I get the free super saver shipping. It always comes by USPS, as far as I can recall.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:07 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish this would have been available years ago when the FedEx driver left my DAW on the front steps of my old apartment.
posted by drezdn at 11:08 AM on September 12, 2011


Ah, that makes sense. I've been a Prime customer forever, so I always get 2nd day.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:08 AM on September 12, 2011


That's fascinating, Hoopo, but I'm not sure if it qualifies as a "bank" for Canadian/Ontario banking purposes and the processing of Canadian/Ontario-issued loans.

Mars Saxman, now that makes more sense given what I've seen. Do you have any idea which credit union is affiliated with 7-Eleven? I'm really curious.
posted by sardonyx at 11:08 AM on September 12, 2011


There are no UPS or FedEx places near me where I could pick up packages...

Other companies server as UPS or FedEx dropoff locations. There's a bunch of small print shop/internet cafe/etc. places that do this. Also, Staples serves as a UPS pick-up/drop-off location.
posted by griphus at 11:09 AM on September 12, 2011


Ever since I pissed off Amazon's customer service, all my orders have been arriving with the words "FRAGILE: CONTAINS DILDOS" stamped all over the box. It's really embarassing, especially considering as it's only true, like, half the time.

I guess they can't do that anymore since the packages would inevitably be dehydrated and sold as Slim Jims.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:09 AM on September 12, 2011


> It used to be public. Is this really the right direction? (Hint: No.)

Meh. It used to receive taxpayer dollars. Shipping packages isn't the same as paying for medical treatment or bridge maintenance. Having choices actually increases quality in this case.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:10 AM on September 12, 2011


Other companies server as UPS or FedEx dropoff locations. There's a bunch of small print shop/internet cafe/etc. places that do this. Also, Staples serves as a UPS pick-up/drop-off location.

None of those either. I've been through this. LOL let me know when they start using Jimmy's Check Cashing or the bodega.
posted by Danila at 11:10 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's fascinating, Hoopo, but I'm not sure if it qualifies as a "bank" for Canadian/Ontario banking purposes and the processing of Canadian/Ontario-issued loans

Oh I know, I'm just saying it's not without precedent and it would have been more surprising to me before I moved to Japan and saw the corner store offering a number of banking services.
posted by Hoopo at 11:10 AM on September 12, 2011


If I'm understanding correctly, you have to rent the box?

I may have missed something, but I'm not seeing anything about box rental in any of the articles. That's what would presumably make it a step up from a PO Box with a monthly/annual fee.
posted by elizardbits at 11:11 AM on September 12, 2011


I count a total of 40 in that picture.

I think the way it works is the boxen are shared, thus the special keypad entry. Amazon emails you a one-time keypad code and you go to 7-11 and enter the code and whichever box contains your package will open.
posted by stbalbach at 11:11 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Drezdn: I think single use is actually exactly what it's going to be. The second article showed a screen to enter a PIN. I do wonder though how it'll work if somebody doesn't pick up an order. Sent back to Amazon after n days?
posted by kmz at 11:12 AM on September 12, 2011


Seems like a decent idea, I usually just get all my packages shipped to my office which is only slightly farther away from home than the closest 7-11 but I can see this being handy for my neighbors. On the few times that things have ended up getting delivered to my front stoop, one of my neighbors usually nabs it and saves it until I get home.
posted by octothorpe at 11:15 AM on September 12, 2011


Of course they're single use. That's the whole point.

I would've used this in a heartbeat at my old place.
posted by mullacc at 11:16 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a really cool idea.
posted by empath at 11:17 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


all my orders have been arriving with the words "FRAGILE: CONTAINS DILDOS" stamped all over the box.

I seriously want to know how one goes about pissing Amazon off enough to get this kind of response, so that I can also partake in the fun.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:18 AM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yep, living in a William Gibson novel. Now all 7-11 needs to do is change names to Lucky Dragon and start producing pre-fab modular stores....
posted by strixus at 11:18 AM on September 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


OSAP can be processed at Post Offices, variety stores such as Macs or 7-11 often contain Canada Post outlets.
posted by Harpocrates at 11:20 AM on September 12, 2011


So... could one hypothetically use one of these 7-11 boxes to hypothetically buy stuff on American Amazon which isn't available on Canadian Amazon, and hypothetically circumvent outrageous customs duties and cross-border brokerage fees?

Hypothetically, of course.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:21 AM on September 12, 2011


Do you have any idea which credit union is affiliated with 7-Eleven?

Credit unions are basically all connected through a co-op shared branching network. I have an account with Salal, but I can walk into any Verity or BECU or FirstTech office and cash checks, withdraw cash, move money between accounts, etc. No fees, no hassle. My understanding is that 7-11 has signed up with this network, through their V-com service, so that you can get the same level of access to your credit union account at a 7-11, no matter which credit union you signed up with.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:23 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here in Canada, most suburban neighborhoods have end-of-the-street mailboxes, which are basically like a front lobby mailbox at an apartment building, only, like, outside. The excellent bonus is that they have a few extra large compartments for packages. When you get a package, there's a key in your regular mailbox for the big compartment. When you're done, you put the key in the slot -- because, yes, there is a letter slot for mailing things out, too.

I really missed that when I moved into an apartment. I don't see why it couldn't be the front lobby standard.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:23 AM on September 12, 2011


Post Offices will soon be an endangered species.

Actually, I think the mail is about to go the other way. In other words they are about to cut our home delivery in favor of central drop locations in order to cut their personnel costs to rock bottom.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:24 AM on September 12, 2011


Yeah, I don't get the dislike here. In my experience, the UPS, shipping stores, and even the USPS these days have been moving out to mall/suburbia land, while 7-11s seem to have a good presence in urban centers near bus lines. I might be wrong, but 7-11s might also have higher availability in rural communities, where convenience stores have traditionally served multiple purposes.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:24 AM on September 12, 2011


(Oh, and in Canada, most post office branches are inside a Shoppers Drug Mart.)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:26 AM on September 12, 2011


Sweet! Finally I can realize my dream of ordering a bag of Cheetos and a bottle of Coke and having it delivered to me at 7-Eleven!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:29 AM on September 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Kinda harkens back to an earlier era when the general store was the post office and the assayer and center of town social life. I am looking forward to when they install a potbelly stove at the 7-11, the old timers can sit and while away the hours eating smokey big bites smothered in chili and cheese while spinning yarns about the olden days before the double gulp was introduced.

The future is going to be awesome.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:30 AM on September 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


At this point I feel like I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but there is something so inherently cyberpunk (as envisioned by Gibson/ Stephenson type stories) about this.

The idea that a all-day-every-day convenience store might have little security lockers for a mega-online delivery service for whatever random, anonymous person just feels right for that universe.

I'm imagining lines like "the buzzing glare of the cold, flickering florescent lights" and "allowed runners to bypass the typical scrutiny unwelcome by those without valid identification biometrics" being used to describe the whole situation.
posted by quin at 11:31 AM on September 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Sweet! Finally I can realize my dream of ordering a bag of Cheetos and a bottle of Coke and having it delivered to me at 7-Eleven!

Or perhaps to your room; these could be... capsule hotels!
posted by hal9k at 11:31 AM on September 12, 2011


...the old timers can sit and while away the hours eating smokey big bites smothered in chili and cheese...

Considering the diet, I wouldn't be surprised this would harken back to the days when the village elders were in their mid-30s.
posted by griphus at 11:31 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This will be a fantastic service for us city dwellers. Very cool.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:34 AM on September 12, 2011


7-11s might also have higher availability in rural communities, where convenience stores have traditionally served multiple purposes.

This has most decidedly not been my experience. There are convenience stores, yes, but they're regional players.
posted by rewil at 11:34 AM on September 12, 2011


let me know when they start using Jimmy's Check Cashing or the bodega.

Danila, can't you just go talk to the dude at Jimmy's Check Cashing and ask him if they'll accept packages for you? Or even the bodega folk? That's not a half-bad idea, actually— if I had to for some reason, I'd trust Carlos at the fruit truck up the bend to catch my stuff from FedEx. He's out there every day, pretty much from 9 to 9.
posted by carsonb at 11:42 AM on September 12, 2011


all my orders have been arriving with the words "FRAGILE: CONTAINS DILDOS" stamped all over the box. It's really embarassing, especially considering as it's only true, like, half the time.

Half your dildo orders aren't fragile?

Jeez, then I don't see why them being inaccurately labeled is such a big deal, unless you prefer that your dildos be handled roughly.

...oh.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:44 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


A need that this may fill that a P.O. box doesn't is that these don't require state issued ID to use, which may be useful for immigrants, or people who are living in abusive relationships and can't trust the location they'd normally pick up mail.

Not to mention the fact that some people order things online once in a blue moon, so regularly paying for the use of a P.O. box doesn't make sense.
posted by Adam_S at 11:45 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


This seems great to me and I don't get the grar either. I'm fortunate to work in an environment where I can receive all the personal packages I want at work (and to post this MeFi comment from work), but I fully recognize that most working Americans don't have this particular luxury. If this makes online shopping possible for the single parent who rides three buses to work every day and picks up extra shifts on the weekend to make ends meet, then that's a good thing for everyone.

It's interesting to think about the role 7-11 plays in a country like Japan, where it's much more of a nice convenient mini-market than a place for the homeless to buy sugar, beer, and cheap hot dogs (ok, my local 7-11 isn't exactly a prime example of what the chain aspires to, but anyway). I remember being in Japan in 8th grade, staying with a homestay family, and being rather surprised when the mother asked us to walk down to the 7-11 to pick up salad dressing for dinner because that just wasn't something we would even think about doing at home; 7-11 was a place for drinks and junk food. It would be awesome if 7-11 started to do more of what Walgreens is moving toward here in San Francisco: selling a range of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other natural foods, starting with some of the most underserved parts of the city. It would be pretty sweet if 7-11 was the place you stop by on your way home from work to pick up your packages, grab a loaf of sourdough and a salad to go with dinner, and snag a couple of locally grown organic peaches.

(Sidenote: when I was an intern at Amazon a couple years ago, the mailroom at headquarters finally announced that they were happy to handle personal packages, but they were only going to hand-deliver work-related ones directly to your desk. The basement mailroom was a sea of brown Amazon boxes every day.)
posted by zachlipton at 11:46 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, you guys are getting Packstations? What took you so long?

Seriously though these are awesome, although obviously there needs to be one near you for it to be useful. In Germany they are everywhere, at least in Köln and Berlin where I have used them both extensively for my buttplug deliveries.
posted by omnikron at 11:48 AM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Considering the diet, I wouldn't be surprised this would harken back to the days when the village elders were in their mid-30s.

Yeah, I don't know why I always think eating chili that comes out of a pump is a good idea, it almost never is.

I've decided to head to the new 7-11 on 95th street and do some whittling though.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:58 AM on September 12, 2011


The closest 7-11 to Cincinnati is in Columbus. And yes, my wife and I have made the drive just for a Slurpee.
posted by Mick at 11:58 AM on September 12, 2011


> Yeah, I don't know why I always think eating chili that comes out of a pump is a good idea, it almost never is.

Squirt now, squirt later.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:01 PM on September 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I might be wrong, but 7-11s might also have higher availability in rural communities, where convenience stores have traditionally served multiple purposes.

I don't know about other parts of the region, but there are literally no 7-11s in Tennessee.
posted by heatvision at 12:06 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The nearest 7-11 is about a ten minute drive from us, but I'd use this just to never again hear the obnoxious apartment office staff comment on how many packages we get.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:07 PM on September 12, 2011


My nearest 7-Eleven is a 100-mile drive away.

So the convenience factor is a wash compared to the current system.
posted by Gridlock Joe at 12:11 PM on September 12, 2011


all my orders have been arriving with the words "FRAGILE: CONTAINS DILDOS" stamped all over the box

That's silly. Dildos aren't ever fragile. They can take a licking and keep on ticking, well, you know what I mean.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:11 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Knowing the quality of the delivery people in my neck of the woods, I expect that they'll leave the packages in front of the lockers.
posted by Splunge at 12:13 PM on September 12, 2011


For people who work in offices, can you really not get packages delivered to your work? I know that there are people who work at places where this isn't feasible (including my mother, who gets packages delivered to my office), but most people I know just have everything mailed to their workplace.

Capt. Renault, that would hypothetically be a lot less expensive than the 3$/package receiving fees at some border mailing places.
posted by jeather at 12:13 PM on September 12, 2011


For people who work in offices, can you really not get packages delivered to your work?

Right, but what if you have an hour train/subway/bus commute to work and there is a 7-11 two blocks from your house? Clearly the locker makes more sense in these situations.
posted by elizardbits at 12:18 PM on September 12, 2011


What I don’t get about this is that it’s just Amazon. How much do you order from Amazon? Enough people in your neighborhood order from Amazon, all day, every day to justify very expensive lockers sitting there? How much profit on each order does it take to pay for those? And at what point does this become not easier and cheaper than just going to the store and buying the product?
posted by bongo_x at 12:18 PM on September 12, 2011


> but most people I know just have everything mailed to their workplace.

Well, don't forget about the shuffling hordes that work in places where they're lucky to get a locker, let alone a nice safe place to receive personal mail. These lower income workers also tend to live in crowded apartment complexes where packages can easily go missing. Having a service like this is a good thing for these people.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:19 PM on September 12, 2011


can you really not get packages delivered to your work?

Well, I can now. I work at 7-Eleven.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:21 PM on September 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


I work in a government building. All mail is not only x-rayed but microwaved (and often damaged in the process), and can take up to three months to be delivered.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:21 PM on September 12, 2011


How much do you order from Amazon?

Everything I can, because I have Prime 2-day shipping, and they have good prices.
posted by smackfu at 12:26 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


For people who work in offices, can you really not get packages delivered to your work?

At my workplace, it's against company policy. So if you do it more than, like, once, they'll send a very scary-sounding warning to you about it (I have received this warning!).

All this led to me being a bundle of damn nerves when I bought a banjo online and was freaking out over whether I was going to be fired over a banjo arriving at my desk or whether it was worth the risk of a banjo being stolen from my apartment building's vestibule. Mo' banjos, mo' problems.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:26 PM on September 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


For people who work in offices, can you really not get packages delivered to your work?

Definitely depends on the employer. My current one, yes. My previous one, who had one of the best healthcare plans in America and amazing benefits overall, discontinued personal mail service years ago. So it's not even a good/bad workplace issue, just varies case-by-case.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:27 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I did say I was asking about office workers (most people I know work in offices, though not all). The people on the factory floor here cannot receive mail, and people working at schools often cannot, and I am sure people working at restaurants can't, and so on.

(I never mail packages to my house, because mail goes missing or late there all the time, and the closest pickup location to my house is far away. Either my office or my grandparents' building are convenient.)

I have nothing against this service which will certainly never be offered in Canada though maybe if we are lucky it will be offered in lots of locations just south of the border.
posted by jeather at 12:29 PM on September 12, 2011


Um, I'm pretty sure post office boxes have been around for a while.
I don't think you can get fedex at a post office box.

And to be honest, home deliver isn't always that awesome. You don't know what time it's going to get there, so you have to either be there or else have them leave the box somewhere.

Or like fedex at my last place, a lot of times they wouldn't leave it with the apartment manager, even if they were there. Very tedious, since you then need to drive all the way to the fed-ex place to pick it up. But it was nowhere near a 7-11 either. Target or K-mart would be a better place to do this.

Actually, come to think of it why doesn't the post office except packages from FedEx? Seems like it could be a source of revenue.
Finally, Amazon will be able to serve the millions of homeless people who long to buy things from their online store.
A cellphone is cheaper then rent.

Also, the USPS is a part of the government. It's been self-sustaining, but not for long. Part of the problem is that congress tells it what to do and not do, so it can't branch out into other services like postal services in other country. It can't do banking, it can't sell cellphones, etc.
Yep, living in a William Gibson novel. Now all 7-11 needs to do is change names to Lucky Dragon and start producing pre-fab modular stores....
I was going to mention the same thing. Also the stuff needs to be fabricated in the store by nanotech replicators.
posted by delmoi at 12:30 PM on September 12, 2011


What I don’t get about this is that it’s just Amazon. How much do you order from Amazon? Enough people in your neighborhood order from Amazon, all day, every day to justify very expensive lockers sitting there? How much profit on each order does it take to pay for those? And at what point does this become not easier and cheaper than just going to the store and buying the product?

A neighborhood has a lot of people. Plus, I would assume these lockers would first go up in places with higher numbers of orders.

Um, I'm pretty sure post office boxes have been around for a while.

You can get single-use PO boxes?
posted by kmz at 12:32 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think you can get fedex at a post office box.

FedEx hands off their packages to the USPS for my home delivery.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:34 PM on September 12, 2011


For people who work in offices, can you really not get packages delivered to your work?

What, really? People get their personal mail delivered to their employers? That just sounds bizarre. Why would you want to mix up your personal life with your work life like that?
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:34 PM on September 12, 2011


I ordered something from Amazon. They said I should pick it up at Border's. With the demise of Border's, that is not possible now, but if I had to go to a store to pick it up, the whole "buy online" thing failed.
I could have just bought it at Border's in the first place. Silly delivery system. And as noted, another nail in USPS' coffin.
posted by Cranberry at 12:35 PM on September 12, 2011


You can get single-use PO boxes?

Yes, it's called the Post Office. They stick a little note on your door that tells you to come pick up your package. Sure, not as convenient as a cross-town trek to some random 7-11 after you get a real time smartphone message, but pretty much the same idea.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:36 PM on September 12, 2011


Enough people in your neighborhood order from Amazon, all day, every day to justify very expensive lockers sitting there?

Basically. Every time I look on the back of a UPS truck, there's a high percentage of Amazon boxes to any other sort.

People get their personal mail delivered to their employers?

I've had boxes delivered to my old office all the time. Many of my coworkers did this and no one said a word or cared. It's not like they opened the boxes to see what's in them and Amazon boxes are pretty ubiquitos. In NYC, at least, the chances of you having a delivery-convenient apartment is pretty slim unless you've got the money for a doorman building, and I'm not staying home from work to get a box if I live somewhere I wouldn't want them to leave the box at my door.
posted by griphus at 12:38 PM on September 12, 2011


"The unholy part is that it means Yet Another Privatization Of A Formerly Public Service, in this case, the Post Office."


Hmm. I wonder how that's working out for them? We've had post offices in 7-11s here in Calgary for many (10?) years, and the two that I've used appear to have lost their contract with Canada Post. I'm sure crappy customer service is the reason. Weirdly, the dedicated 7-11 employees who only worked at the PO desk seemed better trained and dedicated than the other 7-11 people. Maybe they felt like they had actual jobs and committments, and were making the rest of the company look bad?
posted by sneebler at 12:39 PM on September 12, 2011


(Wow that is a hell of a run-on sentence.)
posted by griphus at 12:39 PM on September 12, 2011


What, really? People get their personal mail delivered to their employers? That just sounds bizarre. Why would you want to mix up your personal life with your work life like that?

Because someone is always there to sign for it, and it won't get stolen by someone walking by your door or rained or snowed on or shunted to a warehouse across town that is only open 9-5 anyhow. And because many offices have deliveries every day, you won't get the "we couldn't reach you" sticker even though you were sitting at home waiting for the delivery.
posted by jeather at 12:39 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or were otherwise shot in the foot by 7-11s company policies...
posted by sneebler at 12:40 PM on September 12, 2011


For people who work in offices, can you really not get packages delivered to your work?

I'm in the minority of people who work in an office, and at my last job, I couldn't; it would have gone into a massive, untrackable, interoffice mail system and taken forever, plus I wouldn't feel right doing this on the taxpayer's dime.

Add to this the fact that I live in an apartment building and don't own a car, and there were a few times I had to rent a car to drive to the airport, where the freight handlers hang out, just to pick up a parcel. (Obviously, I'd factored the extra $40 in the shipping price, but still.)

I can get stuff delivered to the office now, but man, this would have been a godsend for most of the last decade.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:41 PM on September 12, 2011


Whenever anyone gets a package delivered at my office the office manager tromps through the whole whole floor angrily asking if anyone knows the recipient is. I think this is to embarrass the recipient enough that they never do it again. If you open the package at work you are stuck with an empty box, because facilities will not take the damn things no matter what you do.

Enough people in your neighborhood order from Amazon, all day, every day to justify very expensive lockers sitting there?

Yes in the building I live in, each day there are maybe 40 amazon packages sitting in the lobby, I'm not surprised we don't have something like this in the basement so packages aren't cluttering the joint up. Because the strange thing is boxes are not allowed in the passenger elevator, if the co-op board sees you they put a passive agressive memo up. There are stacks and stacks of netflix as well, the porters have a sorting station downstairs for those.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:41 PM on September 12, 2011


Doh, I am surprised we don't have something like this.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:43 PM on September 12, 2011


Jesus, where is this building so that I know to not move into it?
posted by griphus at 12:43 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


" Because someone is always there to sign for it..."

You'd never know there was a WAR ON TERROR going on.
posted by sneebler at 12:44 PM on September 12, 2011


And as noted, another nail in USPS' coffin.

Why? I assume USPS will be delivering to these boxes just like UPS and FedEx. Especially since USPS delivers on Saturday.

I always try and get packages delivered by USPS if I have a choice. They will often bring it in the building if I am not there to answer, and if not the post office is a 10 minute walk. UPS is a twenty minute drive, no reasonable transit options. I <3 the USPS.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:46 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Near Columbia, it is a pretty nice building but the board have pretensions so they banned boxes from the passenger elevator, in theory you are supposed to take the freight elevator. I came very close to floating a proposal to keep strollers off the passenger elevator just to be a dick, but they dislike me enough already.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:48 PM on September 12, 2011


Heck, I had two bathrooms (minus the tub) delivered to my office. Sinks, toilets, light fixtures, towel racks, medicine cabinets, fans all showed up here. They were all from different vendors so I would have had to take a week off of work to sit and wait for them all. I did have the tub delivered to the house since it's cast iron and probably wouldn't fit in the back of my Fit.
posted by octothorpe at 12:54 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


As already mentioned, they have been around in Germany in a decade. English Wiki.

They are very convenient. And they are NOT PO Boxes.

1. You can access them 24/7
2. You don't have you own box. You get a box assigned based on the package size that is going to be delivered to you. Then you get a code to open this box. Once. In this way it is more similar to a luggage storage than to a PO box.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 12:56 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a really cool idea.

I'm kind of surprised at all the negative response to this. It doesn't replace the USPS, it augments it. Particularly for people who cannot wait at home for packages to be delivered during normal work hours, as well as for people who do not have homes, at all.

If you've ever had to drive to a post office or UPS/FedEx service center miles away and then wait in line for 30-60 minutes to request your package, this seems like a good way to decentralize both public and private delivery systems and get what you need quickly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:58 PM on September 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


FedEx hands off their packages to the USPS for my home delivery.

Regular FedEx packages? Not FedEx SmartPost which specifically uses USPS for final delivery?

They stick a little note on your door that tells you to come pick up your package. Sure, not as convenient as a cross-town trek to some random 7-11 after you get a real time smartphone message, but pretty much the same idea.

The nearest 7-11 might be closer for some people. A lot of deliveries might be left on unsafe porches and stoops.

Look, this is just an additional option for people that it makes sense for. Nobody's going to force you to use it.
posted by kmz at 12:58 PM on September 12, 2011


I wonder if Amazon Prime customers will be able to get their package delivered to a Trader Joe's instead.
posted by griphus at 1:02 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


It doesn't replace the USPS, it augments it.

Yeah, USPS still gets the delivery revenue, but has paid zero on the costs of the new infrastructure (as long as Amazon uses USPS, that is).
posted by carter at 1:03 PM on September 12, 2011


The folks who nay-say this are the ones who imagine that their lives are typical, who believe anything that doesn't make sense for them doesn't make sense at all. Fascinating, really.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:04 PM on September 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


A couple of apartments ago mail-thievery was rife. We mostly had things sent to the hardware store across the street. Now, in a different apartment, I have packages sent to the Korean market across the street. In dense urban markets there is usually a friendly storekeeper who will gladly accept and hold packages for regular customers.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:05 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


The folks who nay-say this are the ones who imagine that their lives are typical, who believe anything that doesn't make sense for them doesn't make sense at all. Fascinating, really.

No, I nay-say it because there is already a system, or rather systems, in place that are already redundant to this. This is a solution to a promlem that already has multiple solutions.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:07 PM on September 12, 2011


Or a problem even!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:08 PM on September 12, 2011


> No, I nay-say it because there is already a system, or rather systems, in place that are already redundant to this. This is a solution to a promlem that already has multiple solutions.

Well, given that this is in test market phase, and it's paid for by private investment, what is there to really complain about? If it works and can pay for itself then companies will keep it. If it doesn't then they will try something else.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:10 PM on September 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


No, I nay-say it because there is already a system, or rather systems, in place that are already redundant to this.

The existence of FedEx doesn't make UPS redundant. Both operations do more or less the same thing, and they keep each other somewhat honest. Having choices, even redundant ones, is a net positive for everyone, I'd think.

If Amazon finds this to be inefficient or otherwise doesn't benefit their bottom line, then you can be assured that they won't continue with this program. Internally, from what I understand, they seem pretty ruthless about making their business model profitable and useful to their customers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:18 PM on September 12, 2011


There's not a huge problem with mail theft in my apartment building (or, at least there wasn't -- I just got home from a weekend away to find someone had posted an accusatory "MAIL THIEF" warning sign in the entry vestibule), but half of the time, both UPS and FedEx refuse to deliver my packages because "my name wasn't on the door." (It is on there, and it is also on the mailbox, but that never seems to register.) I don't have a car, so I don't really have a way to drive out to the sorting facilities at DIA to get a damn package (I wouldn't want to go even if I did, because our airport is 1,000,000 miles away from where I live, more or less), and if these packages were somehow magically left at the post office, I avoid the Capitol Hill Post Office, home to creepy smelly people, cute-but-testy women canvassing for Greenpeace, and a minimum 45-minute wait for anything, as much as possible.

7-11 is a block away from me, the guy who works there when I buy my papers there on Sunday is friendly and knows my name, and they have a credit union ATM and Sour Patch Kids. I want to pick up the dozens of books I order from Amazon there. This is an awesome idea.
posted by heurtebise at 1:19 PM on September 12, 2011


No, I nay-say it because there is already a system, or rather systems, in place that are already redundant to this.

If you're referring to the USPS, I am glad your neighborhood has a "system." We have a "disorganized and underfunded mess." I just got the previous week's New Yorker two weeks after getting this week's. Only ever other issue of my girlfriend's subscription to Cosmo arrives. I get important letters a day before the "RESPOND BY" date. Whether a package I ordered will be a) sent back to the post office for pick up, b) left at my apartment door for anyone to grab or c) crushed into my tiny mailbox seems to be determined at random.

Picking up a box at a 7/11 would be a delight compared to this.
posted by griphus at 1:28 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Doesn't this point to a complete failure of leadership at UPS and FedEx? It's been obvious for about, oh, 15 years that their home delivery experience sucked for anyone who actually had a day job and lived in an urban area. The fact that a retailer had to create this rather than the actual delivery companies points to some serious incompetence.
posted by benzenedream at 1:33 PM on September 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Doesn't this point to a complete failure of leadership at UPS and FedEx?

Interesting idea, but what about picking up packages at local Kinkos/FedEx and UPS Stores?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 PM on September 12, 2011


I think a better solution would just be some kind of lockable package receptacle at our homes. My 80-year-old apartment building has these little 1.5' x 1.5' square port things in the hallways at floor level on the walls. In my kitchen there's a low-down cupboard door you can open that lines up with the (now boarded up and painted over) port to the hall. I can only surmise it might have been used for milk deliveries or something back in the day. But something like that in apartment buildings and some kind of lockable box at houses that the UPS/FedEx guys can put packages into seems like an even more convenient solution.
posted by floam at 1:48 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I live in an apartment and deliveries to my building are a bit of an iffy proposition. I usually get packages delivered to work, but obviously that's less than ideal, to.

There's a 7-11 literally across the street from my apartment. The nearest post office is a 10 minute drive away. I already do 90% of my banking at the credit union ATM there. I rent all my movies and games at the redbox there. I'd love for them to add this service. I don't even shop at amazon now because of the delivery situation. If they had this, I'd start buying from there all the time.
posted by empath at 1:48 PM on September 12, 2011


BP: Interesting idea, but what about picking up packages at local Kinkos/FedEx and UPS Stores?

While they might offer mailbox services (along with pakmail), they're often located out in four-lane strip-mall land, and the boxes are sometimes inaccessible outside of business hours.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:52 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the nearest Fed Ex office from me is about 8 blocks away and has regular 9-5 hours.
posted by empath at 1:53 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, you're right, good points. Some of those stores can indeed be as much out of the way as the central depots in the industrial zones, and they don't provide 24-hour access.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:54 PM on September 12, 2011


A few things
1) I'm 99% sure Amazon will deliver to a PO box. This simply means that your package gets routed through USPS whether you like it or not. Contrary to popular belief, FedEx and UPS both offer little-advertised delivery services that can reach USPS PO Boxes.

2) If you make a big enough of a stink, UPS will place a permanent note next to your address indicating that they are to never leave packages without a signature at your home. Usually, it's enough to just talk to your UPS driver about this (obviously, this may be difficult), but their computers do indeed have a function that makes it impossible for the driver to release a package to certain addresses without a signature. Ditto for the USPS. It's not fair to knock them if you haven't attempted to resolve the issue with them.
posted by schmod at 1:54 PM on September 12, 2011


I think it is settled. 7-11, you have internet approval, please roll these out nationwide at your earliest convenience.

Here is your official Seal of Approval suitable for use on your marketing materials.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:54 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Part of the issue with PO Boxes is that there's a shitload of security involved with them to prevent people from shipping contraband I guess.

One time while relocating I wanted to get a PO box as I wouldn't have a decent permanent address for a few months. Guess what you need to get a PO Box? A permanent address.

If I had a damned permanent address, I wouldn't need a PO box.

So from that perspective, PO Boxes are no substitute for this delivery system.
posted by GuyZero at 1:54 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


For people who work in offices, can you really not get packages delivered to your work?

At my workplace, it's against company policy.


So being able to receive packages at work is a perk? That's sad.

but I guess it's one more perk for me
posted by GuyZero at 1:57 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


One time while relocating I wanted to get a PO box as I wouldn't have a decent permanent address for a few months. Guess what you need to get a PO Box? A permanent address.

You might want to try General Delivery.
posted by floam at 2:01 PM on September 12, 2011


So being able to receive packages at work is a perk? That's sad.

Well, I think it makes sense. There is a certain amount of overhead associated with it for the company. It's just another decision about where to spend resources.

For example, at my last employer, there were many other perks I valued more than office delivery of personal mail. That said, I take full advantage of being able to receive packages at the office again (I get several a week, so this is not insubstantial).

Probably depends on the size of company and frequency of mail. In the tech companies where I work, people get a lot of packages, since we all tend to buy everything online.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:01 PM on September 12, 2011


> So being able to receive packages at work is a perk? That's sad.

I think it would be less considered a perk and more nuisance control on the part of management. People's boxes could clutter mail rooms, be a distraction for employees, and be a potential theft issue. I'm not saying I agree with it (because I ship a fair amount of personal stuff to my office), but I can see why a company's management would want to prohibit it.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:02 PM on September 12, 2011


Yes, it's called the Post Office. They stick a little note on your door that tells you to come pick up your package. Sure, not as convenient as a cross-town trek to some random 7-11 after you get a real time smartphone message, but pretty much the same idea.

Ah, the Post Office. That wonder of convenience that's across town and only open from 8-5. So I get up early and head across town and hope that the line isn't too long and that someone isn't trying to do a money order and that when I'm (finally) called they can find the package in under 20 minutes and then if I'm lucky I can catch the (shit! there goes the bus I needed!) and since I'm not instead if I walk real fast I just might make it to work in time and all all the while I'm schlepping this (sometimes large and heavy) package to work and back and it's 90 degrees and raining and the box just melted and oh shit now what do I do.

Or I could walk to the 7-11 that's a block down the street and open 24/7 at my earliest convenience.

But yeah, you're right. It's pretty much the same. Because everyone's situation is exactly the same as yours.
posted by bowmaniac at 2:18 PM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Next up, fax machines.
posted by wuwei at 2:21 PM on September 12, 2011


The folks who nay-say this are the ones who imagine that their lives are typical, who believe anything that doesn't make sense for them doesn't make sense at all. Fascinating, really.

Or they're just sad because the spotty distribution of 7-11s mean they'll miss out on this (until other chains also pick up the service) as well as the annual crushing disappointment that is Free Slurpee Day.
posted by rewil at 2:29 PM on September 12, 2011


Contrary to popular belief, FedEx and UPS both offer little-advertised delivery services that can reach USPS PO Boxes.

I don't know about UPS Basic (though I assume it's pretty much the same) but SmartPost is generally known as absolutely terrible. Combine passing a package through two different groups with the cheapest possible USPS service and you're lucky if you get your package in weeks. At my old job we used a similar DHL service and our customers hated hated hated it.
posted by kmz at 2:33 PM on September 12, 2011


The USPS has been doing something similar for years, and actually a lot of the rural areas that are losing their post offices are getting these too: cluster boxes. Most of the boxes are regular mailboxes -- the resident has a key to open the door -- but a cluster box pedestal usually has two or more "parcel doors". Those work just like a luggage locker at the bus station; there's a second key that the mailman tosses into the mailbox of the person who receives the package. Thus, you have an unattended, but secure, central delivery point for a neighborhood. Of course, nobody wants to give up their front-door mail delivery, but the package locker deal works well, and much like this Amazon solution.

I agree with whoever made the cyberpunk allusion; it's so very futuristic, the sort of thing that starts a story with an email that contains nothing more than an address and an unlock code.

My only problem with this is, really, everyone should be doing this, not just Amazon. Let everybody subsidize it, and with electronic locking systems you can give UPS, USPS, FedEx, everyone, the ability to drop off packages. Part of the USPS' claimed budget issues is door-to-door delivery; the cluster boxes make "close enough" good enough, which should work for everyone else too.

For those who complain about there not being a 7-11 nearby: if Amazon benefits from having one of these locker systems installed near you, it will appear suddenly, and with little warning, quite close to you. 7-11 isn't the magical part of the equation, Amazon's financial benefit from providing you delivery options is.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:51 PM on September 12, 2011


Interesting idea, but what about picking up packages at local Kinkos/FedEx and UPS Stores?

The "Will Call" option for UPS leaves the package at a UPS delivery center, which means a long drive and pickup at a delivery center which is not open late. FedEx locations are better, usually open until at least 9pm. The only 24 hour location nearby is ~ 28 miles away.

I wonder if the coded system will be able to suffice for items which require signatures (e.g. medical supplies).
posted by benzenedream at 2:58 PM on September 12, 2011


The point is not to make it easier to get packages for those of us who live in sketchy neighborhoods; it's to reduce Amazon's delivery costs. Amazon could use a traditional courier to deliver to 7/11s (eliminating the high cost of going door-to-door), or they could even forgo a courier and run their own trucks.

Even if the idea turns out to be unpopular, Amazon can use it as a bargaining chip when negotiating rates with couriers.

I wonder if future versions of the machine could do alcohol deliveries after scanning your driver's license, or have refrigerated compartments for perishable goods.
posted by miyabo at 3:29 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if the idea turns out to be unpopular, Amazon can use it as a bargaining chip when negotiating rates with couriers.

If this works out, I wonder if they might move to a "Prime Plus" model, where a reduced-price "Prime" option gets you 7/11 pickups, and the "Plus" option gives you home delivery...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:33 PM on September 12, 2011


When I last lived in the UK, despite living in a safe area and having a sign on my front door saying "please leave packages in the porch; front door is unlocked", 90% of the time, any package too big to fit through the letterbox (a narrow slit in the front door) would be taken back to the depot. I'd get a card through the door saying they'd try to deliver it again the next day, and I could ring them before 5pm that first day if I wanted to have them deliver it to a different address served by the same delivery office. Of course, I got home from work after 5pm, and my office was in a different delivery area anyway. So they'd try again the next day, and then I'd get a card through the door telling me to pick it up from the depot, at my convenience, during office hours Monday-Friday or first thing on Saturday. As the depot was in neither the town I worked in nor the one I lived in, and I have never had a driving licence, that wasn't very convenient. I consider myself lucky that the depot town had a railway station.

If parcels could have been dropped off at, say, the local Co-Op - I don't think the UK has 7-11, but the Co-Op was open till 9 or 10 - I'd have been able to sleep in on a lot more Saturdays, and the postman would have spent less time carrying heavy parcels around on his bike. Win-win. So I very much hope they're going to expand it beyond just London, and beyond just shopping centres. And yeah, it'd be great if people other than Amazon would like to get in on the act.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:37 PM on September 12, 2011


This was part of the plot of a William Gibson novel.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:55 PM on September 12, 2011


You don't say?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 5:04 PM on September 12, 2011 [2 favorites]



For people who work in offices, can you really not get packages delivered to your work?

What, really? People get their personal mail delivered to their employers? That just sounds bizarre. Why would you want to mix up your personal life with your work life like that?


I've been at my job longer than I've lived in any one apartment, and I'm the person collecting the mail. If I didn't get my mail delivered to my parents' place I'd get it it delivered at work.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:15 PM on September 12, 2011


In his next novel, Gibson needs to have a character called Gibson who writes techno fiction that uncannily anticipates actual technology developments in the world that he lives in. Then the characters in that novel can say "This is just like living in a Gibson novel!"

Then when someone IRL says "This is just like living in a Gibson novel!", someone else in IRL can respond "This is just like living in a Gibson novel!"
posted by carter at 5:16 PM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is just like living in an Henrik Ibsen novel.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:20 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually it's just like living in a patrick O'Brian novel, if Amazon were Killick and the delivery lockers were toasted cheese. Then the doctor would fall overboard while looking at Whittier's Minor Flying Sea Cow and the Captain would dive in and fish him out and then be all naked and embarrassed in front of the wife of Commodore Whosits and Killick would be all angry that the toasted cheese was ruined.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:28 PM on September 12, 2011


Ever since I pissed off Amazon's customer service, all my orders have been arriving with the words "FRAGILE: CONTAINS DILDOS" stamped all over the box. It's really embarassing, especially considering as it's only true, like, half the time.

How unprofessional of them to dick around with you like that.
posted by gyc at 5:35 PM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]



The unholy part is that it means Yet Another Privatization Of A Formerly Public Service, in this case, the Post Office.


You'd better sit down for this. There's this thing called email...

Still not getting the anguish over this development. This idea augments options, rather than limits them.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:36 PM on September 12, 2011


Wow, I completely and utterly do not understand the people saying this is some kind of futuristic/William Gibson type thing. It’s a P.O. Box in a 7-11. Didn’t people used to pick up mail and packages in the local shop 100-150 years ago? Like something they ordered from the Sears catalog? Oh wait, there’s a computer involved, that makes everything Completely Different.
posted by bongo_x at 8:37 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, I completely and utterly do not understand the people saying this is some kind of futuristic/William Gibson type thing. It’s a P.O. Box in a 7-11. Didn’t people used to pick up mail and packages in the local shop 100-150 years ago? Like something they ordered from the Sears catalog? Oh wait, there’s a computer involved, that makes everything Completely Different.

Its because there was a specific plot in one of his books about something like this, but I'm still not 100% on exactly what the participants in said plot were gaining.

I wonder if this will come to Australia. I read that we spend the most monthly on online shopping (due to a strong dollar and overpriced goods locally)...
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:43 PM on September 12, 2011


Wow, an astonishing number of people find this useful - only goes to show everyone's situation is different. For me, this makes virtually no difference. I rent a box from the UPS store, and receive all my mail and packages there. So what does this offer that my solution doesn't? Yes, it costs me $180 a year, but it's four blocks away and I get all my mail there. I have 24/7 access to anything that'll fit into my box, and only need to pick up bigger packages during working hours, which poses no problems for me (open till 7:00 pm). Yes, the 7-11 for Amazon would give me 24 hours for packages of any size... actually no! I have ordered stuff that's 6 feet long +, I wonder if that's accommodated - at my box, no problem to pick it up to 7:00 PM. The other thing, if I go on vacation, and I'm gone 3-4 weeks, the staff hold onto my things for however long I need - again, looks to me better than the 7-11 situation. In the end, it depends entirely on how you've structured your mail deliveries. I've used exclusively mail boxes since the 80's, so to me this is the best way to go - I not only receive all my mail/packages there, but I send mail/packages from there, get my shipping supplies etc. Then again, I've got a 7-11 equidistant (4 blocks) to my mail box, so I could use the new Amazon system, but it is not a compelling proposition for me.
posted by VikingSword at 9:17 PM on September 12, 2011


What, really? People get their personal mail delivered to their employers? That just sounds bizarre. Why would you want to mix up your personal life with your work life like that?

It's not like my work is intently involved in my shopping; boxes just come to my office and I take them home. In the unfortunate event that I managed to get fired before a package arrived, I'm reasonably confident that I could arrange to pick it up later or have it forwarded elsewhere. I suppose something could be lost or stolen, but that issue could be handled the same as any other missing personal property at work (and packages on my doorstep are vastly more likely to be stolen then ones in my office). Beyond that, what kind of mixing of lives is going on there?

It's quite simple at my current employer where there's only about nine of us in the office: delivery man walks in; someone, quite possibly me, signs for packages; packages get dumped on people's desks or tossed across the room. I've worked in larger offices where the UPS guy just lets himself in and piles everyone's packages by the door for everyone to pick through. And I've worked in still larger offices where a central mailroom receives everything, sends me an automated email letting me know I have a package, and hands me my mail after a quick glance at my work ID. (Packages that looked work-related, basically anything without an obvious eCommerce sender, generally got hand delivered to my desk by the same person who stuffed the floor's mailboxes.)

I certainly get that this sort of arrangement is likely unavailable if you work in a government building or you're a factory worker or a traveling musician, but I don't get how mixing personal and work lives is a concern at all here.

Maybe my entire sense of perspective is warped by working in an industry where it's not uncommon to ride a corporate shuttle bus to work, pickup/drop-off your laundry at the office, eat company-provided meals, and work out in the company gym, but package delivery is personally not where I'd draw the line between work and home.
posted by zachlipton at 10:06 PM on September 12, 2011


Its because there was a specific plot in one of his books about something like this, but I'm still not 100% on exactly what the participants in said plot were gaining

If we are thinking of the same thing, It was in Idoru, it was some sort of nanotech matter resquencer bolted on to a chain of convenience stores. The point being that you didn't have to ship anything, an item could be scanned and a duplicate generated anywhere in the world. There were goodly chunks of the book about the installation of of the resquencer modules as they were delivered and installed all over the world. I am probably wrong, but in think one of the ancillary characters, a child named Boomzilla was selected to receive the first resqeucned delivery.

I'm pretty sure Hiro, in Snow Crash, received all his mail at a convenience store.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:02 PM on September 12, 2011


Sorry, Wrong book, it was All Tomorrow's Parties, he called it the NanoFax
posted by Ad hominem at 11:08 PM on September 12, 2011


Nah I get that I'm just not 100% on the REAL reason it happened. Want to avoid spoilers though.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:10 PM on September 12, 2011


From the link supplied by Horselover:
the Postal Service said, “We will be insolvent next month due to significant declines in mail volume and retiree health benefit pre-funding costs imposed by Congress.”


The article glosses over this thing about retiree health benefits. I heard this explained on a radio show the other day. The Congress requires the post office to fund retirement health benefits for 75 years ahead. CNN talks about it here.

From the article: "the fact is, no other government agency, and few corporations in the private sector are required to fund retiree health benefits 75 years out."

So, the problems are artificial, created by Congress. Anyone want to speculate that the plan is to force the post office out of business, so UPS et al can take it over?
posted by Goofyy at 12:48 AM on September 13, 2011


I can't believe nobody seems to have mentioned that you can already basically do this in Japan. Amazon.co.jp offers deliveries to most Lawson convenience store locations — you just print up a bar code that they scan, and they pull your box out of the back real quick and hand it to you.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:18 AM on September 13, 2011


Came in here to say what DoctorFedora says - this has been available in Japan for at least as long as I've been here.
posted by emmling at 8:59 AM on September 13, 2011


But it was two events: one crafted during the Bush years and another supervised by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, that would cripple this once great institution.

Perhaps it was its booming history that first drew Congress' attention to the Postal Service in 2006 when it passed the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (PAEA), which mandated that the Postal Service would have to fully fund retiree health benefits for future retirees. That's right.
[A Republican] Congress was demanding universal health care coverage.

It was an impossible order, and strangely, a task unshared by any other government service, agency, corporation or organization within the United States. The act meant that every September 30th, the USPS had to cough up $5.5 billion to the Treasury for the pre-funding of future retirees' health benefits, meaning the Postal Service pays for employees 75 years into the future. The USPS is funding the retirement packages of people who haven't even been born yet.

-- Postal Workers: The Last Union
posted by benzenedream at 11:39 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didn’t people used to pick up mail and packages in the local shop 100-150 years ago? Like something they ordered from the Sears catalog? Oh wait, there’s a computer involved, that makes everything Completely Different.

This isn't even the first time for that. Sears had a service via Prodigy (a joint venture with IBM) back in the 1980s-90s that allowed you to order from the catalog online and pick up at your local Sears store. It was very convenient, if a bit utilitarian -- you'd get a cubby number and find your package in it.

They still have this service, just all web-ified. You literally walk in to an empty lobby with a terminal, and present your home-printed invoice to a scanner. A few minutes later a person appears with your box. The only thing missing is a robot. (Sears had mail-delivery robots in its Sears Tower headquarters.)
posted by dhartung at 1:22 PM on September 13, 2011


You know, I see this moving quickly from optional to required after the postal system fails and Amazon starts realizing the cost benefits to having their customers handle the last-mile delivery.

Your particular area will end up having a number of Amazon locker stations you can choose from, but paying some delivery guy to waste $8 of hydrocarbons to visit your house will be obsolete.
posted by odinsdream at 1:27 PM on September 13, 2011


but paying some delivery guy to waste $8 of hydrocarbons to visit your house will be obsolete.

Well, except that Amazon is also setting up its own fleet of delivery guys, and having stuff delivered all at once by truck is actually more fuel efficient than having each purchaser drive to the store individually.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:31 PM on September 13, 2011


Many people wouldn't have to drive. In some locations, no one would.
posted by alexei at 6:33 PM on September 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


http://fedex.com/us/services/hold.html warning: Video autoplay.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 7:08 PM on September 13, 2011


I can't believe nobody seems to have mentioned that you can already basically do this in Japan. Amazon.co.jp offers deliveries to most Lawson convenience store locations — you just print up a bar code that they scan, and they pull your box out of the back real quick and hand it to you.

Came in here to say what DoctorFedora says - this has been available in Japan for at least as long as I've been here.


Heck, PIN-protected delivery boxes (takuhai boxes) have been in place in apartment buildings for years now, and are not only for Amazon purchases. That the Japanese-owned 7-11 would propose this does not surprise me.
posted by armage at 4:26 PM on September 17, 2011


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