Are stolen packages and "attempted delivery" slips driving you batty?
Amazon, a major cause of the duress, has decided to confront the problem with an in-home delivery service being launched in Philadelphia and surrounding areas just in time for the holidays.
In an informal online poll of "NextDoor" website connected neighbors in my Queen Village neighborhood, about a quarter of respondents hailed the service as a great solution to their delivery woes. But lots more were troubled by new issues that this invasive deal may present.
Dubbed "Amazon Key" and available to Prime members starting Nov. 8, the brainstorm requires customers to purchase an in-home kit (starting at $249.99) with a choice of compatible smart locks from Yale and Kwikset plus an Amazon Cloud Cam intelligent indoor security camera – gear that Amazon will install at your front door zone for free. You'll also need to have internet service with WiFi wireless connectivity to trigger and monitor the device's operation.
Selecting "free-in home delivery" will set off a tracked routine. That day, you'll receive a notification in the morning, then another just before the delivery person arrives at your address. The driver will always knock first, then electronically request access from headquarters.
Assuming that you haven't sent a last minute "change of plans" delivery cancellation notice, Amazon will remotely verify the delivery driver through an authentication process, turn on the Cloud Cam to record, then trigger the unlocking of the door, so that the driver can deliver the package just inside your entry. (You can remotely monitor the process "live" if desired, on a smartphone app.)
After the driver makes the drop and confirms that the door is re-locked, another notification will be sent that the delivery is complete. The process is backed by an "Amazon Key Happiness Guarantee," which covers damaged goods, up to $2,500 in property damage. But there's no accommodation for a pet that might run out as the door opens, and the retail giant is discouraging use of Amazon Key if your animals have easy access to the zone.
Those smart locks will come in two varieties. Yale Assure features an exterior keypad that can be used for easy home entry by family and friends. The retrofit Kwikset Convert marries an existing deadbolt to a new motorized, smart-lock module attached on the inside of the door. Amazon plans to extend Key applications in the coming months to also provide "unattended access to professional services providers – including home cleaning Merry Maids and pet sitters/dog walkers from Rover.com," among others.
So what does the neighborhood think?
"I would sign up!" Queen Village resident Gianna D'Angelo said enthusiastically
"Outstanding! Amazon rules," proclaimed Joe DiBianca.
"I'd sign up in a heartbeat," said Joe Yannuzzi.
But lots more neighbors were skeptical.
"If you have an alarm, the driver will set it off when he opens the door," noted Marlene McPherson. "Unless they can give you a window when the delivery will take place so you can disarm your system. "
Said Rebecca Cureton: "I'm also not comfortable with the idea of someone opening my door when I'm not home – especially because I live in a city – and I've been robbed before."
"It sounds fairly extreme to me," noted Jonathan Kaye. "A much simpler partial solution would be to allow one to receive a text message or email when the package is delivered [outdoors.] Amazon has our phone numbers and emails already."
"I'd consider it money well-spent, but the alarm system is an issue," noted Susan Regli. "I use Amazon lockers a lot for delivery – several near where I work."
"We would never consider this and Amazon is a major lifeline for us," said Casey Sawron. "For someone to have access to our home, they would have to be properly vetted. … About 15 percent of our deliveries are stolen from being left on our doorstep, but surely this is not the solution."
Pamela Dalton thinks it's feasible for alarm-activating and animal-loving customers only if the home has two layers of front doors "with the [smart] lock on the outer door."
Scott Abramson shouted "No, no, and no! The fact that the consumer has to now invest $250 for a lock system is outrageous!"
"It's an easy way for someone to 'case' your home," said Alex Roszko. "For companies to even suggest such an outlandish idea just shows how much we have let these corporations take over our lives."
"Full disclosure – I own the Fishbox mailbox store at 737 Bainbridge," wrote Bella Vista's Napoleon Suarez. "As with most hardware devices, they have to be replaced or upgraded every so often. That can be expensive. … The last thing that you want is the potential of a hacker gaining access to your home or viewing you at home without your permission."