Why won't you just leave the package?
November 12, 2013 8:33 AM   Subscribe

We're getting increasingly frustrated with the UPS driver refusing to leave our (no signature required) packages at our front door. Would a small sign help?

We live in a three-flat in a gated courtyard building. UPS clearly has the gate code to enter the courtyard, as they frequently come all the way to the door and leave a blank info-notice instead of just leaving the package at the front door, which is well away from the street and covered.

I've called the main office here, and the supervisors I speak with all tell me the same thing; it's up to the individual driver's discretion to decide if they leave a package or not. This is infuriating to everyone in our building - what's the point of paying for expedited shipping for anything if they won't leave the damn package at the door? I think some of it might be laziness... instead of schlepping the package, they just pop in, leave an info-notice which weighs nothing, and hope that the guy on the next shift will schlep the package to the door. But apparently there is no one to appeal to, thus our idea for a sign.

Would a sign help, if we posted it at the door? What should the sign say, for maximum likelihood of compliance? If you don't think this will work, what can we do to try and get packages delivered to our door? It shouldn't be this hard.
posted by juniperesque to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have had good luck leaving a post-it that says:
UPS, please deliver package 1ZXXXXX
Even for packages that don't require a signature. You could probably leave it outside the gate (to reduce the likelihood that they've made it to your door without the package and don't want to do a round trip)

Though since signing up for UPS My Choice (which is free), and I believe selecting some sort of "just deliver everything every time" option, it's been much less of an issue.
posted by brainmouse at 8:37 AM on November 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

This should work. I put a sign on my door for FedEx and UPS. They take it away every time, but I just replace it when necessary. I use post-it notes and write: "FedEx and UPS, Please leave packages at door. Thanks!" and I sign and print my full name.
posted by k8lin at 8:38 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I see signs like this pretty regularly. They say some variation of "Attention UPS/USPS - please leave all packages for [lastname] at [place]." You can either do this when you're expecting a package or leave it up permanently.

I doubt it's laziness, just ass-covering. If a delivery person leaves a package and it gets stolen before the recipient shows up, the recipient's probably going to be on the phone complaining to UPS.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:42 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely try to talk to the driver. More likely than being lazy, he probably has some reason that makes sense to him as to why he won't leave the packages. Maybe he can make some suggestions that will make him feel more comfortable about leaving a package.

Maybe your driver fears the package might be stolen if left at the door? At our house, some delivery drivers leave packages on the porch in full view of the street, but some drivers leave them at the far end of the porch, behind a large bush where the package would not been seen from the street. Maybe a large potted plant next to the door with enough space behind it that the package could be discretely left?

If you can't catch the driver one day when you're at home, definitely leave a sign on the door. Something like "UPS driver, please leave all no-sig required packages at the door" or "... behind the big pot" or what-have-you.
posted by vignettist at 8:46 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Would a sign help, if we posted it at the door?

In my building, they just post the sticker onto the sign. I mean, it's worth a shot but I wouldn't bet on it.

Also, be careful with UPS My Choice. Certain companies -- like Amazon -- tend not to file certain documents with UPS required for My Choice to work.
posted by griphus at 8:49 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I leave a sign that says, "Please leave package for JohnnyGunn." Then I sign it. Usually the driver takes the note and leave the package.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:49 AM on November 12, 2013

There was just an article on The Consumerist about this.

You may also want to sign up for UPS MyChoice, which allows you to leave specific delivery instructions and entry codes on a package by package basis.
posted by eschatfische at 8:50 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

When I had this problem (still do, just not all the time), I was on the phone raising hell with UPS every few days. I learned that each driver is responsible for the packages in his or her care until they get into the recipient's hands. So if a package is lost or stolen, then the driver gets called onto the hot seat to answer for it.

So most drivers are going to be cautious about leaving a package inside the front door, even if there is some barrier to the street. I try to remember that as I fume at the stupid driver who can't get my stuff to me. I think some sort of specific notice, a la brainmouse, referencing the delivery by number, is going to get you the best results.
posted by Liesl at 8:51 AM on November 12, 2013

You think it's laziness?
These guys are lifting 70lb packages while hustling all day.

I'm guessing it's more likely about "following the process" as MadTV so aptly described years ago. Therefore, leave a personally signed note with instruction and ownership of liability.
posted by Kruger5 at 8:52 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

I've had luck leaving a note as others have said above, but if there is a whole buildingful of people, could you all go in on a mailbox big enough to hold the most common size of package? Something like this?
posted by looli at 9:08 AM on November 12, 2013

When I talked to UPS about this, they said it is there policy (maybe just this area) never to leave a package, even in our (old) locked foyer/hallway. I had to start getting packages delivered to work.
posted by Pax at 9:19 AM on November 12, 2013

On saturday, a UPS rep told me that it's totally driver's discretion. My girlfriend gets lots of UPS deliveries to her apartment, but the various drivers only leave packages at her door about half the time.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:34 AM on November 12, 2013

I have had good luck with single, important packages, leaving beer and a note. Otherwise yeah the drivers can use discretion and if you don't have a personal relationship with your driver you are better off either getting things delivered to work or to a neighbor who might be home.
posted by jessamyn at 9:39 AM on November 12, 2013

Best answer: I used to drive for UPS, and it is totally driver's discretion, not laziness. In order to leave the note, they must still make the stop / take the time, plus(!) they must return the next day to try again. UPS is extremely time-driven, with a very tight schedule, and the goal every day is to deliver all parcels on the truck before returning to the hub. Believe me when I say that returning multiple times to deliver the same parcel is not something they would wish for.

As others above have said, a note on your door, with a signature, telling them to leave the package "behind the flower pot; in the car parked in driveway; on the side porch" should be effective almost all the time. If they still choose to not leave your package, my guess is they felt it was somehow sketchy - like perhaps they noted some folks hanging around your courtyard or something. UPS drivers tend to be really great people, who take a personal interest in the folks on their route, so if they are not leaving a package, there is probably a good reason.
posted by PlantGoddess at 10:14 AM on November 12, 2013 [15 favorites]

Because my porch is very safe (and I tend to be trusting of others), my address for all online purchases is
123 Mockingbird Lane
Smallville, NY 12345

I've never gotten a notice in place of the package.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:56 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I worked for UPS as a delivery helper over their Christmas season once, and one of the things I remember from the training was that drivers/helpers are not supposed to leave packages outside in plain sight because of liability both to them and to the company. If there's not a good spot where the package can be tucked away out of sight, they're supposed to not deliver the package and leave the standard "Delivery Attempted" note. This rule also applies more generally to any situation in which the driver is not totally sure that the package will be safe where they have left it. They also try to arrange their routes so that they hit the commercial customers during working hours and the residential customers in the evening, when they are more likely to be at home. This doesn't always work out perfectly, but they try.

In practice drivers have a lot of discretion about this and often will leave packages in plain sight if they feel it's safe to do so, but if they have any concern that the package might not be safe then they'll generally err on the side of caution and abort the delivery. The value of the package, if known, also factors into the decision (sometimes this information will be included in the entry for the package, other times it will just be something obviously valuable and high-risk like clearly-labeled electronics or something from a jewelry company). Also, drivers are prohibited from leaving certain types of packages (e.g. medicine) at all and must deliver them directly to the recipient, even if a signature is not required. Drivers bear part of the liability for stolen packages, and could face sanctions or even lose their job if an unusual number of packages are getting stolen on their route.

This isn't laziness – after all, they have to bring the package to the door and ring the bell (or knock) to see if they can give the package directly to the recipient, and if they can't deliver it then they're going to have to carry it back to the truck and try again another two or three times over the next few days. It's much easier to just dump the package on the stoop and hope for the best – drivers really dislike having to not deliver a package, at least the drivers I worked with did, as it actually means more work for them.

That said, a note often helps. I have had good luck with leaving a note on my door saying "UPS, please leave package at [Location X]. I waive my right to complain if it is stolen. Thanks, Scientist" when I'm expecting a package that the driver doesn't seem comfortable delivering. They will always take the note, presumably as evidence that they had my consent to leave the package and that I am assuming liability for it (or perhaps to make it less obvious to passers-by that there is a package at the house). This is technically not allowed according to the training I had, but it does seem to work a lot of the time (though not always). I don't think there's a way to get 100% cooperation, but it definitely helps.

Sometimes even if it's signature-required I will leave a note and include my signature in an appropriate size for their signature pad, and write "please trace my signature onto your pad" and that sometimes (but not always) works too. (I only do this in situations where I didn't want it to be signature-required but where it was required by the shipper.) I also always provide them something to hide the package behind or inside of, like a chair or a piece of plywood, and indicate that this is where they should leave the package. My understanding is that this really helps them cover their ass, which is what non-delivery is all about.

Again, there's not a way to get delivery drivers to leave packages 100% of the time but a polite and gracious note does help a lot, as does providing the driver somewhere to leave the package where it can't be seen from outside the house. Hopefully it will also help you to understand drivers' motivations for non-delivery; remember that they don't want to not deliver their package, that it is actually more work for them than just leaving it for you would be, but that they have liability if it gets stolen and need to protect their jobs. If you can reduce that liability by providing clear consent in the form of a note asking them to leave it and by providing them a good place to hide the package, that will help a lot.

Also, I would like to mention that I have never met a lazy UPS driver. I worked with several different guys (they were all male) during my month as a delivery helper, and they were all extremely hardworking dudes. It's a very physical, demanding job with a lot of time constraints – especially during busy seasons like Christmas, they typically arrive at the shipping facility before dawn and are often not home until 6 or 7PM. The closest thing to a lazy driver I encountered was one guy who really liked to chat with his regulars (mostly commercial customers) and who would therefore take a long time to get through his route. He always finished though and was perfectly conscientious about his deliveries – it's just that in his case, he often didn't end his day until more like 8 or 9PM. They are hardworking, middle-class, union laborers who work long hours at a demanding job (I was beat at the end of my work days, and got crazy shin splints from jumping in and out of the truck onto concrete a hundred times a day) and usually have families to support. It's not a job that lazy people can do – they'd get fired within a month.
posted by Scientist at 1:17 PM on November 12, 2013 [7 favorites]

seconding MyChoice - they've recently updated it to allow you to provide specific(ish) instructions on where to leave the package, and you can have your delivery preferences set for all packages. I've found it very handy since, while I do tend to be home all day, the front door to my building is locked and I often can't hear people knocking on it. it's worked every time I've used it. (you do have to agree to essentially not complain if it gets stolen or whatever.) you can also pay extra to schedule a delivery window or redirect the delivery to another address if you want.
posted by mrg at 3:53 PM on November 12, 2013

I don't know the inner-workings of UPS specifically, but as it pertains to Fed Ex and USPS (with whom several of my friends work), the delivery driver is under no obligation of any kind to leave a package at an unsecure/open location. Yes, regardless of note, even.

Even if you think your gated community is safe -- leaving an unattended package opens that driver up to liability if the package is subsequently stolen. Additionally, it is up to the drivers discretion as to whether he or she feels the area is safe enough to leave a package. Just because you believe your home/neighborhood to be safe doesn't mean your deliver driver (from Fed Ex, USPS, Amazon, ect.) thinks so.

By all means, try a short, nicely worded note to leave the package unattended or with a neighbor, but don't be surprised if the note is ignored---the issue here is liability and has nothing to do with being lazy or nice/mean.
posted by stubbehtail at 4:17 PM on November 12, 2013

I wonder if what my neighbors and I do would work for you and your neighbors. There are two flats in our building, and next to my buzzer there's a permanent sign that says:

If 345 not available,
please ring 347

and their buzzer has a similar sign.

Because of our respective schedules 95% of the time someone is around to accept delivery. YMMV.
posted by trip and a half at 5:02 PM on November 12, 2013

What you're asking for is called "Driver Release" or "DR" in UPS acronym-speak. If there's been a problem with theft at your address, it's possible that the drivers are instructed (automatically, via the DIAD device they carry) that a signature is required no matter the shipper's intent.

Do you get packages delivered without a signature ever at your address?
posted by reeddavid at 7:12 PM on November 12, 2013

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