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Creating a safe place for "mail-order" deliveries

 
gardener
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This subject came up indirectly (inspired by r ranson). More and more people are getting packages delivered to their homes, and they aren't always there to see it happen (and some delivery people don't even bother to ring the door bell!) Poor Joshua Frank lost his order to animals as discussed in this post: https://permies.com/t/141174/large-quantity-good-chocolate-eaten

I'm thinking that we need to reinvent the mail box - it could be something like the posties use where the parcel falls down and the hatch closes but that could be pricey.

It could be a simple but animal-proof box with an open padlock sitting there and a sign that says - "put package in box and close the padlock on the latch".

Whatever we choose for our properties, it should be firmly bolted to an immovable object. I'm not sure anything would stop a really determined thief, but what ideas can people come up with that would discourage casual thieves?

I know that before Christmas this was an issue for a lot of people, and in that case it was human animals doing the pilfering, but it could just as easily be bears or raccoon!
 
pollinator
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Not so much theft proof, but we have a large tool-box type of container, the kind used on construction job sites, for packages placed outside of our gate.  Theft in such areas is just not very common so we have not had to deal with that side of the issue.  But we have been more concerned about traffic driving down the road, which really is no type of thru-road, so has little cause to be used.   For this reason we are contemplating installing trail-cams at points at the top of the driveway so that license plates, vehicle types, and activity could be logged in case we needed to have that information.  This would also help to see what kind of 2 or 4 legged critters might be expressing interest in the package box or mailbox.
 
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I simply enclosed my porch, have storm doors with sign telling deliverers to put packages on porch.
Am also on 1st name basis with deliverers and oft express my appreciation of their VALUABLE services.
 
pollinator
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A box with a standard front door lock (the type that automaticaly locks when the door shuts) the door is open and has a sign saying please shut me when you leave the delivery.
But our packages are delivered round the back of the house from the road so no one can see them, they are normally just dropped on the step but sometimes one of the delivery people will check to see if the door is open and leave it inside if it is. (our 2 dogs are TERRIBLE guard dogs) If we have something that could be damaged by the weather we ask them to put it in the barn.
 
pollinator
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Secure post boxes are what you need.
Bolted to a huge concrete pad they are great.
The top door opens to reveal a tray for the goods and when released the door and tray fold back, allowing the parcel to drop down into the cabinet.
If the drop door is opened, the tray blocks access to the parcels
Drop boxes
 
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Location: 5b Ontario
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Edit:

Actually I see above that Daley has described the same thing! Whoops sorry. :D. And a concrete pad does sound like a very secure base lol.

There is an "elephant trunk" mailbox that is intended as a safe drop for parcels. It might actually be an American product, even, since much of Canada actually runs on communal post boxes that also have different big containers for various sized packages.

The elephant trunk posts have a pull bin for the package to go into, and it falls into the "trunk" which can then be accessed with a key.  The opening part is a panel at the bottom of the unit. I think the design is more intended for use in the middle of cities, but I would imagine a big steel parcel box would be very resistant to critters and would also help keep rain and snow off items. Not sure how they anchor onto the ground. For a rural setup you might need to install a big post or maybe some kind of flat base it can anchor to, so it doesnt get knocked over in the weather.
 
pollinator
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I'm in the same boat right now.  My new property has a 1/4 mile driveway and the PO won't deliver to the house.  I need something secure at the foot of the driveway and the PO already told me that the carrier probably won't lock a padlock on a shed for me if I build one at the road.  I'm going to need something where they can just drop the package in and go.  My area has a new rule that the carrier doesn't have to back up more than 30 feet and they won't turn around, even in a designated turn around area unless it is paved, so every package I receive now that won't fit in the mailbox, is returned to the PO and I have to pick it up the next day.  Kind of defeats the purpose of Amazon Prime.
 
pollinator
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Since my mailbox and parcel box are at the end of a long driveway out of sight of the house, I adapted and mounted driveway monitors with a quarter mile range onto the back of my boxes so they will ring me at the house whenever either box is opened to alert me to a delivery.
 
gardener
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That’s kinda a bummer situation to be in.  30’ seems like an awfully short distance to travel.  My driveway is a 450’ gravel driveway and the mail comes all the time.

I do have a turn around area, but not a circle or loop.  I have what I call a “back around” area.  By that I mean the driveway goes straight from the road to the garage, but I have a little perpendicular extension just a bit away from the garage so that I can back out, turn, then drive forward down driveway.

The little extension does not take up much space or expense and can double as an extra parking space in a pinch.

Eric
 
Trace Oswald
pollinator
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Eric Hanson wrote:That’s kinda a bummer situation to be in.  30’ seems like an awfully short distance to travel.  My driveway is a 450’ gravel driveway and the mail comes all the time.

I do have a turn around area, but not a circle or loop.  I have what I call a “back around” area.  By that I mean the driveway goes straight from the road to the garage, but I have a little perpendicular extension just a bit away from the garage so that I can back out, turn, then drive forward down driveway.

The little extension does not take up much space or expense and can double as an extra parking space in a pinch.

Eric



I have the same type of area.  It is big enough to park 4 cars, but it isn't paved, so the carrier won't turn around on it.
 
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Many cities have "emergency service" locks on every business, keys are distributed to fire , police, utilities, and vermin catchers.
An equivalent could be established, preferably with an electronic component that would allow the codes to be updated every 30 days and allow delivery systems USPS, UPS, FedEx, Amazon, etc to unlock a dropbox with their phones......

I don't have Bezo's number but it would be a helluva subscription service.....

Or Wheaton Labs claims programming prowess, perhaps a developed product could be presented to the world....It certainly seems worthy of a Kickstarter.

Contact me as necessary to forward my 2% originators fee from the subscription pool...........
 
gardener
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We sign up for package tracking, so we know what's coming, when - and we make sure we're here, when it comes, or have it held, if we can't. However, we're also retired, and though busy, we're able tp do that. Maybe having things delivered to a trusted neighbor would help.
 
pollinator
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We've been having these issues recently as well. A big part of our situation is that we have a new address created through rural addressing a few months ago, which only very recently showed up in USPS' system online such that other carriers can confirm it's real (they still insist it's "unverified" or some such, however).

Our mail box is maybe 2 miles from our house at the nearest such cluster, and USPS was quite clear that they would not allow us to install a locking mailbox. They did say, though, that we could put a large parcel delivery container there, with an open lock and a sign requesting that the carrier put larger parcels in there and close the lock when they finish. So we have a regular (very vintage, bullethole-riddled) regulation mailbox attached securely to the post in the usual way, and then we have an old 55-gallon steel barrel chained to the post, with a padlock and the address and instructions painted on the lid. We've observed tampering with this lock when it's open, which we assume is humans, so we keep a close eye on it as much as possible (a shameful waste of gas going back and forth, although I try to always combine it with things like trips to collect old yucca stalks for fencing or deadwood for our outdoor stove).

We've told UPS that they can also use this barrel rather than coming down all the rougher dirt roads to our front gate (where we put an old-school metal steamer trunk for parcels when we think one might be arriving, because they have braved the roads twice now). Messages (including maps and instructions) by phone and email to the local UPS headquarters an hour and a half way seemed like they would work, and they confirmed that although they could not use a USPS mailbox, their drivers could use such a barrel. But the first driver confirmed receiving the map without the directions/instructions and got lost out beyond our place and had to be led back to our gate (we spotted him from the roof as sunset was approaching), and then the second driver found our place only because I put a sign up with a red bandana attached to it like a flag, and he said he'd received neither map nor instructions and kept talking over my partner about how the virus is a hoax rather than answering questions or listening to anything.

We test FedEx today, as I placed a dry goods order with a company that looked like it would ship UPS or USPS that at the last minute switched to FedEx. We shall see if our buckwheat flour, etc. arrives or not! Do folks here have any experience with trying to communicate with local FedEx headquarters about special delivery instructions? I tried to "manage delivery" and add "delivery instructions" on the website, but they insisted I create an account like I have with UPS -- fine, no problem -- but then couldn't do it because they insist our address isn't "valid."

Compounding all this, here in the States, is the fact that our wonderful USPS is almost out of funds, and there may not be any help on the way; but I won't go into politics.

All of this certainly does become more of a problem when we're homebound due to high risk if infected. We've been able to get curbside pickup at a total of three places in the county, so for everything else, we're stuck trying to get deliveries. This means we've suddenly had to become much more self-sufficient than before, from foraging to gardening to really scrounging in the resource pile and letting nothing go to waste. But we do still sometimes need engine parts, salt, canning lids, buckwheat flour, etc. (Don't get me started on the ongoing experiment of collecting, threshing, winnowing, toasting, and grinding sotol (Dasylirion) seeds into flour. Let's just say nothing has been edible yet. Hopefully there'll be a good mesquite bean harvest this year!)
 
pollinator
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I put shade cloth on the metal railing so no one can see it from the road. A sign asking them to put it behind the cloth works.
 
pollinator
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I had a delivery yesterday that got pitched into a bank of ferns and rained upon.  I suspect that carrier isn't going to put something into a lock box for me, regardless of how nicely I ask!
 
pollinator
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Will other services deliver to a PO box? It would seem to me that picking  packages up at the post office would be preferable to gambling. As long as the post office was w/in about 15 minutes.


Regards,
Rufus
 
pollinator
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In our area there is quite a bit of mail and package theft from druggies and other lowlifes if you have a mailbox on the street and not at the P.O.  We've had a post office box ever since we moved to AK.  UPS and FedX will deliver to the P.O.  If you order something and know beforehand that it will be coming via UPS or FedX I just use the street address of the P.O. and my box number.  Example:  John Doe, 1234 main St #234 any town, AK 99999.  This has worked great and I don't have to worry about lazy mail carriers, package theft etc.  I go to town about twice a week and by the P.O. while I'm out.
 
pollinator
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USPS holds any package at the post office that's too big for our mailbox.  They used to leave it on the porch but we had two 80 pound labs at the time and one thought that any box was meant for her to lay on.  She never damaged anything but crushed many boxes.  UPS isn't too bad except for the fact that they like to leave the package at my mother-in-laws house five miles away because they don't want to come up our driveway.  

FedEx on the other hand is horrible!   My mailing address originates in a different county who had 911 city-style addresses three years before the county I actually live.  I had been waiting for a package for two weeks when I contacted the seller and discovered it had been shipped through FedEx.  When I called them, they stated that my address didn't exist and that the package was about to be returned to the sender.  I tried explaining that half the mail route was in a different county and would still have route numbers to no avail.  I've had them throw a package in the high weeds by the driveway and luckily I saw it on the way to check the mail.  They've delivered packages to the wrong address and thrown them 10 feet onto the porch (yes I witnessed it).  I think I had them on speed dial for awhile.  If I order something and the shipper isn't identified, I ask first.  If it's FedEx, I ask if it can be shipped by a different carrier.

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Rufus Laggren wrote:Will other services deliver to a PO box? It would seem to me that picking  packages up at the post office would be preferable to gambling. As long as the post office was w/in about 15 minutes.


Regards,
Rufus



Yes and no.  

P.O. Boxes are the exclusive domain of the USPS, so other carriers cannot deliver to them.  However, in some very remote, rural areas, other carriers, such as UPS and FedEx, do not offer last-mile delivery service and will transfer parcels to the USPS for last-mile delivery.  My understanding is that in these out-of-service regions the parcels must be addressed to a street address, not a P.O. Box, because the P.O. Box rule still applies.  (Edit: The P.O. box rule might only apply to certain regions.)  If the USPS does not deliver to that street address either, the packages from other carriers will be held with USPS packages for pickup, effectively acting as a P.O. box situation.  

UPS offers what are called Access Points, which work similarly to a P.O. box, where the packages are sent to a UPS store or to a local store and held for pickup.  I think FedEx does something similar with their FedEx Kinko's stores.  One word of caution: don't address your package to the access point unless you are 100% sure that the carrier will be affiliated with that access point.  FedEx Kinko's hold for customer pickup does not accept UPS packages, even if the customer has addressed the package to the access point for customer pickup, and your package may get returned to sender by mistake.  You can address your package directly to a UPS Access Point for pickup as well, but I'm not 100% sure of the correct format for entering such an address, so talk to your local UPS Store or Access Point before trying it!

Edit: My knowledge of UPS procedures comes from working for the company at a worksite in an extensively developed suburban area in the Midwest, so my knowledge of operations and procedures for rural areas is extremely limited.
 
Kathryn della Porta
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Beth Wilder wrote:We've been having these issues recently as well. A big part of our situation is that we have a new address created through rural addressing a few months ago, which only very recently showed up in USPS' system online such that other carriers can confirm it's real (they still insist it's "unverified" or some such, however).

Our mail box is maybe 2 miles from our house at the nearest such cluster, and USPS was quite clear that they would not allow us to install a locking mailbox. They did say, though, that we could put a large parcel delivery container there, with an open lock and a sign requesting that the carrier put larger parcels in there and close the lock when they finish. So we have a regular (very vintage, bullethole-riddled) regulation mailbox attached securely to the post in the usual way, and then we have an old 55-gallon steel barrel chained to the post, with a padlock and the address and instructions painted on the lid. We've observed tampering with this lock when it's open, which we assume is humans, so we keep a close eye on it as much as possible (a shameful waste of gas going back and forth, although I try to always combine it with things like trips to collect old yucca stalks for fencing or deadwood for our outdoor stove).

We've told UPS that they can also use this barrel rather than coming down all the rougher dirt roads to our front gate (where we put an old-school metal steamer trunk for parcels when we think one might be arriving, because they have braved the roads twice now). Messages (including maps and instructions) by phone and email to the local UPS headquarters an hour and a half way seemed like they would work, and they confirmed that although they could not use a USPS mailbox, their drivers could use such a barrel. But the first driver confirmed receiving the map without the directions/instructions and got lost out beyond our place and had to be led back to our gate (we spotted him from the roof as sunset was approaching), and then the second driver found our place only because I put a sign up with a red bandana attached to it like a flag, and he said he'd received neither map nor instructions and kept talking over my partner about how the virus is a hoax rather than answering questions or listening to anything.

We test FedEx today, as I placed a dry goods order with a company that looked like it would ship UPS or USPS that at the last minute switched to FedEx. We shall see if our buckwheat flour, etc. arrives or not! Do folks here have any experience with trying to communicate with local FedEx headquarters about special delivery instructions? I tried to "manage delivery" and add "delivery instructions" on the website, but they insisted I create an account like I have with UPS -- fine, no problem -- but then couldn't do it because they insist our address isn't "valid."

Compounding all this, here in the States, is the fact that our wonderful USPS is almost out of funds, and there may not be any help on the way; but I won't go into politics.

All of this certainly does become more of a problem when we're homebound due to high risk if infected. We've been able to get curbside pickup at a total of three places in the county, so for everything else, we're stuck trying to get deliveries. This means we've suddenly had to become much more self-sufficient than before, from foraging to gardening to really scrounging in the resource pile and letting nothing go to waste. But we do still sometimes need engine parts, salt, canning lids, buckwheat flour, etc. (Don't get me started on the ongoing experiment of collecting, threshing, winnowing, toasting, and grinding sotol (Dasylirion) seeds into flour. Let's just say nothing has been edible yet. Hopefully there'll be a good mesquite bean harvest this year!)



Hi Beth,

Regarding your interactions with UPS, here's what I would recommend to ensure they consistently deliver your packages to the barrel.  (I'm assuming you chose the barrel because you don't intend to order anything that won't fit inside it.)  I will note that there are some classes of packages that must be delivered directly to you, denoted as "signature required" that cannot be left in the barrel.

First, put your phone number on your packages in addition to your address, when the shipping information section of the billing process gives you enough space to include it.  This helps if the driver gets lost or if the driver can't find your address and takes the package back to the building.

Second, include delivery instructions on the package when the shipping information section of the billing process gives you enough space to include it.

Third, if possible, make sure your UPS contact is working at the building that sends out your packages.  That will shorten the communication chain and make it more likely your instructions are relayed to the driver, the driver's on-road supervisor, and the dispatcher.

Send your UPS contact the following message via email, edited to your style, with your information filled in:

Hello UPS [Name of local UPS building, if you know it],

Beth Wilder here.  I've been in contact with you several times regarding delivery instructions for my packages.  However, those instructions don't seem to have been communicated to the drivers who have delivered my most recent packages.  I have installed a large parcel delivery container next to my mailbox at my newly created rural address, [address of your mailbox].  I want my packages that can be delivered to this container to be delivered to this container, rather than sending your driver down all the rougher dirt roads to my front gate.  My last two packages were delivered to my front gate with considerably difficulty on the part of the drivers.  

An acquaintance of mine who is a dispatcher in suburban Michigan suggested that I request that you do the following to ensure that future deliveries are made to the parcel container:

1.)  Move the SNAP for my address to the physical location of my mailbox, located at [address, crossroads, and physical features that can be identified via satellite image that is 2-3 years old].

2.)  Add a CPaD message with both a note and an alert for my address that says "Del to [color] barrel" [message length limit 23 characters].

I also understand that there are some packages that require a signature that, as a result, you will not be able to release at the parcel container, per my instructions.  While I expect such packages to be few and far between, what would you recommend I do if I know that the package I am ordering cannot be driver released?  

[Closing and signature]


Hope this helps!
gift
 
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