What's the best way to get a large package delivered to my apartment?
June 12, 2012 5:06 PM   Subscribe

I live in NYC and can't really have packages delivered to my apartment. Suppose I order a large package - what's the best way to get it home?

For the life of me, I can't come up with a better solution, so I thought I'd ask you excellent people: how do people who live in apartments and work all day receive large packages?

I just had to carry yet another heavy package through the subway that I had delivered to me at work, but that solution doesn't always work. Suppose I want to order stereo equipment, or a TV, or a small wine fridge, or anything like that. How would I get it home?

- I work all day, so I can't have it delivered to my apartment.
- My building does NOT have a doorman.
- I have a car (if necessary)

Things I've come up with, and why they don't work:

- Mailboxes Etc. There are only two in the metro NYC area, and neither is anywhere near my apartment.
- Ask UPS/Fedex to hold it until I can get it. Both services are notoriously horrible at delivery in my area. Sometimes they deliver at 2 PM, and sometimes at 6. Other times they don't even leave a note on the door saying they attempted delivery.
- Ask a neighbor. No one in my building really talks to each other, and I don't know any of my neighbors well enough.
- Have it delivered to a nearby bodega. I'm sorry, I'm not leaving $500+ of stuff I bought to the local bodega.

I just can't come up with a good solution. MeFites (or New Yorkers), what are your solutions?
posted by gchucky to Home & Garden (36 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Have it delivered to your office, on a day you drive.
posted by nkknkk at 5:08 PM on June 12, 2012

Or take a cab home with the package.
posted by telegraph at 5:12 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Most neighborhoods have a plethora of local postal/shipping stores (think non-chain Mailboxes Etc.). They typically offer package receiving services.
posted by wrok at 5:12 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

When you order the item, request that it be shipped via USPS with a signature confirmation. The post office will attempt delivery while you are at work and leave a note that you need to either authorize them to leave it on their next attempt or you can pick it up. Wait till Saturday when you are not working and go pick it up.
posted by mlis at 5:15 PM on June 12, 2012

Here's an earlier thread from the Green.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:15 PM on June 12, 2012

Whoops, I meant to add this: I have friends who use these folks and are very happy with their services.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:17 PM on June 12, 2012

You might be eligible to use the Amazon Locker system for deliveries from them.
posted by jacalata at 5:25 PM on June 12, 2012

Mailboxes Etc. There are only two in the metro NYC area, and neither is anywhere near my apartment.

There are many UPS stores in the city and most of them do "mailboxes" which also allow you to ship packages to that address. Do a location search by

Also amazon locker as mentioned above. Find Lockers near you. A search I just did turned up 20 locations in Manhattan - you can enter your zip code and see what's nearby.
posted by lyra4 at 5:34 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

My local Fedex Office in NYC allows packages to be shipped directly to them (via FedEx only, natch) and will hold them for pick-up for no charge.
posted by serialcomma at 5:35 PM on June 12, 2012

GAH, my UPS store sentence was eaten by gremlins. Do a location search by zip code, then click on results near you. Check for "Mailbox Services" on the location page, specifically "Package Acceptance".
posted by lyra4 at 5:36 PM on June 12, 2012

lyra4 makes the excellent point that "Mailboxes Etc." is the old brand; almost all stores have rebranded as "The UPS Store" and nearly all of them offer package receiving services.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:37 PM on June 12, 2012

Hold for pickup. UPS, Fedex and even USPS allows for this some directly and some indirectly.

However, you're not the only person in the building to get packages, right? In the various NYC apartments I lived in, where I didn't interact with my neighbors at all, there appeared to be some kind of unspoken code where people would bring in people's packages with the expectation that someone would bring in theirs: the delivery man would ring apartments, someone would let him in and - if it wasn't a signature required package - that delivery person would leave the package by the mailbox or bring it in behind the locked main door. Every building I lived in operated like this.

Have you seen any packages sitting by the mailboxes or in the foyer? People might be doing this already.
posted by vivzan at 5:41 PM on June 12, 2012

I insist on USPS as the shipper. When that's failed I send to my office and take a cab home with the heavy or bulky thing. Often fedex uses USPS for the last mile for their cheapest delivery, so keep that in mind.

If you can talk to at least one of your neighbours, ask what they do.

One time, I had the things shipped to my parents, and then had them re-mail it to me.

My current solution is to be friends with someone who lives above a store that's open all day and use her address.

But check around your neighborhood for the non-chain mail box places. I never noticed them until I needed them.
posted by mgar at 5:46 PM on June 12, 2012

I usually chuck whatever it is into the back of a cab or car service.

If it's big, I'll call a car service and ask for an SUV.

I usually factor this sort of thing into the cost of getting the item, assuming it's something I could have picked up at a bricks & mortar store or scheduled to be delivered on a saturday.

I think this is also what those Mailboxes Etc. sort of stores are for, though if it's something very large you still have to schlep it home from there.
posted by Sara C. at 5:46 PM on June 12, 2012

Oh, and re Mailboxes Etc -- there are a lot of mom & pop versions of this around the city which aren't franchises or specifically called Mailboxes Etc. THere are at least three in my neighborhood, and there were a bunch in the last (brownstone Brooklyn) neighborhood I lived in before this. I also remember there being one near my old place back when I lived in Queens circa 2004.

The one nearest my place in my old neighborhood was actually called Going Postal. Heh.
posted by Sara C. at 5:49 PM on June 12, 2012

How frequently do you order something that is both unwieldy and expensive? It's hardly the ideal answer, but when I was in the same situation in Philadelphia, I would just stay home for the delivery and either use a vacation day or make up the time, but my boss was pretty laid back and I only did this once or twice over the course of two years.
posted by kaybdc at 5:53 PM on June 12, 2012

I don't live in NYC, but I lived in Boston for 2+ years with no car, and here are some of the things that I did when I had this very problem.

1.) Try to get delivery scheduled for a window where one of the days they might try is definitely going to be Saturday.
2.) For small items, pick them up at the post office if I'm not home and they try three times (you need to be sure that you follow mlis's suggestion that a signature is required). You can also leave a note on your mailbox that says "PLEASE DON'T LEAVE PACKAGES"
3.) For large items, like furniture, stereos, etc, I try to order them from stores in person and schedule delivery instead of having it shipped via UPS.
4.) Ask a neighbor to keep an eye out for a package I know is getting left behind.
5.) Zipcar or a cab if I absolutely can't get something I can't lug on the train delivered.
posted by pazazygeek at 6:00 PM on June 12, 2012

UPS now has a service that let's you schedule re-delivery: it's on the call-in menu when they leave their sticky note for missed deliveries. Think they were charging something like 8$ for the service. Might be worth looking into.
posted by Ys at 6:40 PM on June 12, 2012

Response by poster: Whoa. Thanks for the responses, everyone. A couple of things:

- I work in Manhattan and live in the outer boroughs, so while a cab ride would be feasible, it'd be expensive. Plus I'm not really sure my boss would be okay with me having something huge like a TV delivered to the office.

- I didn't know that Mailboxes Etc was taken over by UPS, so that's way valuable knowledge. I should probably call around the stores near me to see what my options are.

- Amazon Lockers are fine for small packages, but they can't fit something extremely large. And you can only use them for Amazon orders, so ordering from, say, NewEgg would be totally out.

- vivzan: that might be true, but UPS has gotten really touchy as of late, to the point where they won't even leave packages. The outer door of our building is locked, and they almost never buzz around to see who's home.

I'm gonna give some of these a try and see what pans out.
posted by gchucky at 6:41 PM on June 12, 2012

Are you near a bus route? Some buses have space for suitcases/that sort of thing, although maybe that's just the M60. (But if you're in Manhattan...)
posted by dekathelon at 6:44 PM on June 12, 2012

For super-large items like that, shippers usually pre-arrange delivery. I bought a TV on Amazon and they arranged a time to drop it off when I'd be home.
posted by downing street memo at 6:53 PM on June 12, 2012

I don't know if this works so well for valuable stuff, but I used to have packages delivered to the bodega on the corner. Make friends with a local merchant, ask if you can have a package delivered, and tip them well when they come through for you.
posted by soy_renfield at 7:09 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't underestimate the power of neighbors. Most people are good people.

Wait for a warm day when lots of folks are outside, and just go hang out on your stoop and wave at people. Maybe bring out some cookies or lemonade in cups. Just be friendly and try to get noticed.

Then, next time you're planning to have something delivered, knock in some doors. You'll be a familiar face, and chances are very good that someone near you will be home all day and happy to accept a package for you.

People think this kind of familiarity is only possible in the burbs, but that's not true. In a city, with just a little effort, you can find 50 people willing to help you out within a few hundred feet of your front door. You just have to ask.
posted by phunniemee at 7:11 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, when it comes to things too big to have delivered to the office, it's time to buy it in a store and schedule delivery.
posted by Sara C. at 7:23 PM on June 12, 2012

When I was freelancing from home in BK, I would occasionally go and work from a friend's apartment when they were expecting a delivery, or the cable guy, or something. They'd usually leave lunch in the fridge from my favorite place in their neighborhood, or something like that.

If you have any non-office-bound friends, I bet they'd be happy to do the same for you.
posted by patnasty at 7:30 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by unknowncommand at 7:54 PM on June 12, 2012

I have picked up numerous packages at various UPS centers (like the one over on Leroy St. on the west side). Usually, there will be a failed delivery attempt -- and then I just call and figure out where to pick it up at a time convenient for me when they are open. And usually when I call, I just mash the keypad with my palm or press zero until somebody picks up.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 8:09 PM on June 12, 2012

You'd still need someone to be available to receive your package but this service from UPS allows you to reschedule delivery or reroute your package to a different address for $5.

Never used it so I can't vouch for how reliable it is/whether it just adds further package delay
posted by Omniscience Fatigue at 8:26 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Package delivery was awful for me - USPS and UPS were saying signatures were required, and they were getting bounced back to the senders..... so I just signed up for My UPS and have them hold the package at the nearest center. It's free and saves me worry.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 8:44 PM on June 12, 2012

You spend a fair amount of time arguing with FedEx, UPS, and USPS dispatchers trying to get across that you can only afford to buy the things that require shipping if you GO TO WORK every day.

FedEx is the worst, in my experience, they will leave your package with damn near anybody, even if they are expressly not supposed to let anyone but the recipient sign.

USPS and UPS will allow you to arrange for pickup. UPS has better hours but are pretty disorganized in dealing with the horde of folks who have scheduled pickup of their packages in my experience. Dealings with USPS depend entirely on the character of your local post office.
posted by desuetude at 10:50 PM on June 12, 2012

Buy one of those rolling wedges (not the carts but the kind you can stack things on) and use it to schlep stuff home from your mom and pop mailbox outlet that accepts deliveries for a small fee.

It's the only thing that makes me wish I lived in a doorman building.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:43 AM on June 13, 2012

When I was receiving wedding registry gifts via UPS (therefore I didn't have any control over the method of shipping or when they were to arrive), the only thing that got all the goods into my hands was waiting for the yellow "We missed you!" note (often noted as the second or third try when there had been no previous notes) was to call the UPS customer service number and bully them into bringing it back to me at the end of the day. It's awful and I hated to do it and it took so much of my time, over and over, but I could figure no other way around it. I have no car and wasn't able to get to their holding center in East Jesus, Queens, which is only open during business hours anyway.

Only one or two items were returned to the shipper and then had to be re-shipped (out of about 40ish) but all of them were a headache. I would leave written notes on the yellow note like "Please leave package in vestibule!" and "Please deliver after 6 pm!" and they were routinely ignored.

UPS is way picky about not leaving packages in a visible-from-the-street place, and I understand that it's because the individual drivers who are on the hook for lost or stolen packages, but gah, someone paid for you to deliver the package to me, not to make a halfhearted attempt to get kind of near my address with the package and then turn around. All my sympathies.
posted by Liesl at 7:03 AM on June 13, 2012

I don't know if this could help, but I used to use Pick Up Zone to have things delivered to a local store. They've been bought by ShopRunner, so I don't know if it'd still be a viable option.
posted by ldthomps at 7:42 AM on June 13, 2012

I get packages delivered to work, as the local sorting office is inconveniently placed for me and many of the home delivery (non Royal Mail) companies are so exasperating to deal with, especially if you don't have a car to drive to the depots that are miles from anywhere, and I've had packages stolen off the step or left in 'secure places' like...the dustbin. On bin collection day. (If I were to order something heavy like furniture, my job gives me the option to work at home whilst waiting for a delivery, which might not be viable for you.) I have managed to carry a chair home on a rush-hour tube, as well as the large hamper in my room, so is there any reason you can't just bring a large IKEA blue bag and carry it home on the subway?
posted by mippy at 8:33 AM on June 13, 2012

I use my corner store -- I am a regular customer, and the store owner is cool with accepting packages. ymmv
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:23 AM on June 13, 2012

I've lugged things home on the subway, and it sucks. A collapsible hand truck like this really helps for those times when you have to schlep.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 2:23 PM on June 13, 2012

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