How do you deal with daytime deliveries?
January 12, 2011 3:42 PM   Subscribe

How do you deal with daytime deliveries?

Seemingly-stupid question, but here goes: last year, I moved out of an apartment building and into a house, and it's been my first house-living experience since moving out of my parents' place. I'm car-less, live in a city, and had become accustomed to dealing with the problem of how to buy large things without a car by ordering them and having them delivered.

Somehow, it just never occurred to me pre-move to consider how much of a pain it would be to live someplace without a doorman to accept deliveries of packages during the day. Some things (like books), I now have sent to my work, but for big things that aren't bike-carryable, I have yet to find a satisfactory solution, other than staying home from work (ick). My neighborhood is okay, but not quite to the point that I feel comfortable having stuff left outside in plain view, all day. I often use Amazon Prime's free two-day shipping, which ships by UPS, and I'm not anywhere near our UPS service station or whatever.

The geek in me has started to concoct crazy ideas involving electric locks or door strikes that I could use to let the UPS man into the vestibule outside our front door via the Internet, or maybe some sort of one-way drop-box mechanism, but before I go that far, I wanted to ask how others deal with this. Surely, I'm not the only car-free urban house-dweller that has to deal with this stuff.
posted by andrewpendleton to Grab Bag (31 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Make friends with a neighbor who is home during the day, and ask them to accept deliveries for you. You can leave a note for the driver asking them to deliver there.
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:45 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A local DC blog (Prince of Petworth) has asked this multiple times here, here and here. A workable solution is probably in one of those comment threads.
posted by General Malaise at 3:48 PM on January 12, 2011

Well, I'm not a house-dweller but I do live in an urban area and my apartment building doesn't have a doorman. I have pretty much everything delivered to my work and just take it home on the bus (which I realize might not help you if you have to carry things on a bike) whenever possible. If something is extra big or unwieldy I make sure I know when it's going to be delivered and I get a ride home from someone that day, or I keep it at the office until the weekend and get a ride/rent a Zipcar to pick it up then.

It's really never been an issue for me. This year I did all of my holiday shopping online so I tested this method a LOT without fail.
posted by joan_holloway at 3:49 PM on January 12, 2011

Get stuff sent to work. Leave it there overnight. Catch a bus in and a cab home the next day.
posted by mollymayhem at 3:50 PM on January 12, 2011

Get a friend/coworker/relative/neighbor who works from home to get packages for you.
posted by griphus at 3:54 PM on January 12, 2011

Also, are there any commercial places near your house where the owner or someone who works there is particularly cool with you (and who you trust)? I'm thinking of something like a diner, bar or coffee shop. See if you can get something delivered there under the name of the person who works/owns the place.
posted by griphus at 3:55 PM on January 12, 2011

If you do what InfidelZombie suggests, don't be offended if your neighbour says no. For people who work from home, that sort of imposition and assumption of availability, trivial as it might seem, can end up being a pretty serious drain on productivity.

Get it delivered to work rather than getting it delivered to someone else's work (even if that happens to also be their home).

If you have an unemployed neighbour and tip a few bucks for their help, that's a different matter.
posted by 256 at 3:56 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

My aunt has a box that has a lock on it, and if she's expecting a package, she leaves the lock undone, and the UPS man locks the box when he leaves stuff in it. I'm not sure what she does if she has both a UPS and a FedEx delivery in the same day, though.
posted by Medieval Maven at 3:57 PM on January 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

Where do your delivery drivers deliver to? Ours always make sure to deliver to the side or back door for the houses where no one's home during the day.

And, yeah, as one of the at-home people, I don't mind at all when working neighbors want to have something shipped to my house. If it weighs 40 pounds, though, I'm not carrying it inside. Also if I have to sign for it, you should give me cookies, because then I have to spend part of the day waiting around instead of running errands on my own timetable.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:57 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could get a box at the local UPS store and have all your mail delivered there. Then you don't have to worry about mail or packages being delivered at home at all.
posted by COD at 4:01 PM on January 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Pick Up Zone. You have your stuff delivered to a local business that has the sort of business hours you can work with (in my case, a hardward store). Although my local delivery business just closed for renovations, and I haven't bothered to find another yet.
posted by ldthomps at 4:11 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Back of the house (this is usually what we do).

Inside the screened door (maybe only if it's solid the lower half)

Get a cat/dog door installed and ask them to shove stuff through it?
posted by ish__ at 4:11 PM on January 12, 2011

I have everything that won't fit through a mail slot delivered to my office. Every once in a while it's a big package that I either have to divvy up and carry in parts, or something so large that I need to take a taxi home.
posted by kate blank at 4:12 PM on January 12, 2011

-Send to workplace
-Request Saturday delivery
-Place a chest or basket on your porch, locking or not. Then it becomes a fixture of your porch (so people won't know if you've received a delivery or not) and the delivery driver can hide your packages in there.
-Place a piece of furniture (arm chair, etc) on your porch. Driver can hide package inside/behind furniture.
posted by msbutah at 4:13 PM on January 12, 2011

Saturday delivery.

I have had things delivered to work, and also a neighbour took a parcel in once. (I've also taken in parcels for others.) Saturday delivery is the best.
posted by plonkee at 4:21 PM on January 12, 2011

I get stuff sent signature required (actually, I often have no choice about that) so they leave a card. Then I ring up and either get it scheduled for redelivery on Saturday morning, go pick it up at the depot, or get it sent to my nearest Post Shop (which is on my way to work). It's a pain because it always takes a couple more days to get to me. If I can't get it signature required, I put postal instructions to leave it in the carport around the back since my front door opens right onto a shared driveway. Fortunately my local courier driver is really good about stuff like that. My husband gets stuff sent to his work and has been known to go back in the weekend by car or bus to pick up something too big to bring home on his bike.

Saturday delivery is the most convenient if it's an option, as long as you know it's coming.
posted by shelleycat at 4:23 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Everyone in my office gets things delivered at work. I got a gigantic box yesterday with a pressure cooker in it and just carried it home on the bus.
posted by web-goddess at 4:45 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

FedEx Ground has some options that might be useful, though I'm not sure how easy it would be to specify them on the ordering end.

Basically, you can ask for them to come in the evening, on a certain day, or by appointment. On the date-certain option, one of the days you can choose is Saturday.
posted by ZeroDivides at 4:51 PM on January 12, 2011

If you have any elderly (and home-during-the-day) neighbors, it's time to make friends. Leave a note on your door on delivery days that packages should be signed for by your friend Ethel Swanson across the street. In return you can do things like take Ethel's paper to her door every morning or lift heavy objects for her. Or heck, even just talk to her. This is something my grandma would be happy to do. I'm sure there are others like her.
posted by phunniemee at 4:53 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers, so far. I live in a rowhouse, so there's no easy way to get to the back yard (you have to go around the block, then down an alley). The Pick Up Zone idea is fascinating to me, though. Unfortunately, it seems that they're not in DC, yet, but I'll keep my eye on it.

Someone on one of the Prince of Petworth posts mentioned having a box on the porch and leaving an unlocked padlock in it and asking the delivery man to lock it when they were done. That sounds like a pretty sane solution, and I may look into it, if I can convince my boyfriend to sacrifice porch space to put one out.
posted by andrewpendleton at 4:56 PM on January 12, 2011

We live in DC, and have the same issue. Anything delivered to my office gets microwaved, and anything left on my porch disappears. We finally settled on getting a box at a UPS Store. It's worth it for us, mostly because of my wife's business; not sure if you'll be able to justify the cost.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:04 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I deal with the daytime delivery problem by using a Post Office box. I can access the box (via the key) at any time of day or night, or if it is a big parcel, I can pick it up from the Post Office/Newsagency until 5:30pm weekdays or until 12 noon Saturdays.

Would this work for you?
posted by with the singing green stars as our guide at 5:52 PM on January 12, 2011

If you're comfortable having them leave the package while you're not there, you can just leave a note authorizing them to leave the packages. Most UPS drivers will then leave the package, though if they feel it's not safe to do so (it's an unsheltered place and there's bad weather, or they're concerned the package may be too visible and easy to steal) they won't, and if you authorize them to leave it and it goes missing, you have little to no recourse.

My partner and I live in a small apartment building and we get UPS and other package deliveries approximately once a week. On days we're expecting deliveries, we leave the front door (which opens into a small) foyer unlocked and put up a signed, dated note asking them to please leave the packages inside the front door. This works fine about 90% of the time, with UPS, FedEx, and OnTrac (the company that delivers most of our Amazon Prime packages these days). The other 10% of the time it's because the shipper has specified that an in-person signature is required, or for some reason the driver just doesn't want to leave it.
posted by rhiannonstone at 5:58 PM on January 12, 2011

Get to know your neighbours! There must be someone in your street who is home during the day. Yes, it's a bit of an imposition, but unless you're getting stuff delivered a couple of times a week, it's not that big an imposition, especially if they're retired rather than working at home. (I'm talking here about general online purchases rather than ordering sofas or washing machines.) My next door neighbour is retired and our postie pretty much always leaves my parcels with her now - I've even gotten to the point of stating on online orders that if I'm not home, they should deliver to #12. If I've had a lot of deliveries in a particular month, I'll take round a bunch of flowers or a homemade cake when picking up the latest delivery. She's asked me to help her sort out the timer on her new boiler and when she was ill recently, asked me to do some food shopping for her - which I don't think she would have done if we hadn't already established a relationship. So it can work both ways. (I'm in London FWIW)
posted by finding.perdita at 6:34 PM on January 12, 2011

A lot of those Mailboxes ETC type places will accept packages for a small fee. In New York, storage companies offer that service, as well.

If it's a stand-alone single family house in a non-dangerous neighborhood, probably they will just leave it by the door. Unless maybe you order something super-valuable like a laptop.

I get things delivered at work. If it's huge, I have to take a taxi home, which I factor into the price of the item.

Sometimes it's better to just buy things in person for this reason. I live in a third floor walkup apartment with no doorman and a non-functional buzzer. I am a freelancer and want to punch my lazy roommate who orders everything online in the face - this is a major US city. We have stores. Use them!
posted by Sara C. at 6:50 PM on January 12, 2011

Don't feel stupid that you can't figure this one out. We struggled with this at our Philly rowhouse for years since we can't get packages at work and the wonderful old lady next door died. We finally got a UPS box (for about $18 a month) after artwork shipped to our house was left on the stoop and, naturally, got stolen. I learned from that episode that drivers make the decision whether to leave packages at front doors. I still miss that wonderful art piece. Nice thing about UPS is that they e-mail me when something comes in. We now have the pleasure of offering to take packages at the UPS store for our urban friends (sometimes)....
posted by Prayless at 8:28 PM on January 12, 2011

This issue gets my blood boiling, having had many infuriating calls with FedEx or UPS (usually the former) after drivers "used their discretion" to leave things with random neighbors (including the misogynist jerk on the corner) and forgot to inform me. Even when it was supposed to be signature-required.

No, I don't have a trustworthy neighbor who doesn't work during the day. No, you can't leave the package on my busy street. No, I can't leave work early and sit in my house for four hours to wait for it. No, you cannot deliver to my office, the staff there is not my personal delivery service.

I rent a PO Box. You can just rent a little one, the desk will accept packages for you.
posted by desuetude at 9:36 PM on January 12, 2011

I rent a PO Box. You can just rent a little one, the desk will accept packages for you.

If by this you mean a US Mail post office box, that's a problem -- UPS/FedEx will not deliver to these.
posted by vorfeed at 11:03 PM on January 12, 2011

I had a big problem with this around the holidays this year. After multiple weepy calls to FedEx, the FedEx guy agreed to come BACK to my house at the end of his run (around 8pm). It was a Christmas miracle!

I would suggest if you DO get them to do a big favor like that for you, have some cookies or candy or something as a thank you for the FedEx/UPS guy. Then next time he may remember "oh yeah that nice kid who gave me chocolate.... maybe i'll go out of my way to help her again...."
posted by silverstatue at 8:48 AM on January 13, 2011

If by this you mean a US Mail post office box, that's a problem -- UPS/FedEx will not deliver to these.

Oh, sorry, should have specified. I rent a PO Box and make everyone ship USPS.
posted by desuetude at 10:43 AM on January 13, 2011

Haven't yet encountered one of those unpatriotic merchants who refuse to deliver via USPS, have you?
posted by Rash at 12:10 PM on January 13, 2011

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