receiving parcels - trouble-shooting
September 23, 2019 4:36 AM   Subscribe

Mefites who live alone/work full-time - how do you manage your online shopping/receiving parcels?

Just as background: I have a 3 hour commute (round-trip) and live alone. I spend very little time at home except at weekends. I don't have time for shopping, so I do almost 100% of my shopping online. However, because I am never at home, receiving parcels becomes a big source of stress for me.

A recent example: I ordered a few things online but the courier service came while I was at work and left with the parcel when no one answered the door. They did not show up again and now the parcel has disappeared. Now I am haggling with the retailer online about how they need to refund me. This happens very often. Many UK retailers use Hermes, a courier service rated 1* on trustpilot. I get that couriers are low-paid and treated terribly, but the fact remains is that the service provided is very unreliable.

Where possible I use the 'click and collect' option where you pick up your item from a store or the nominated day delivery option but this isn't always available.

This would just be so much easier if I were allowed to get personal deliveries delivered to my office, but our workplace doesn't allow it. It would be easier if I could work from home on days that I expect a delivery, but again, our workplace is not keen at all on employees working from home. It would also be easier if I had someone at home to collect parcels, but I live alone. I have a good relationship with a neighbour, but like me she lives alone and works full time, so I can't ask her to receive parcels for me. My other neighbours (who do stay at home) are quite aggressive individuals so I prefer not to get involved with them at all.

Parcel delivery is a huge problem for me because I work long hours and don't have time to go shopping, but if I only patronise retailers which do evening or weekend delivery that cuts out a lot of my shopping options. Luckily, the big grocery stores offer delivery until 11pm so I don't have a problem with my food shopping, but very few other retailers offer anything beyond delivery during the day Mon-Fri, i.e. when a vast majority of the population would be at work.

I'd love to know how other Mefites with the same issues have managed to trouble-shoot this problem? Maybe there's something obvious I'm not seeing here? I realise this makes it sound like I am constantly shopping online, which I am not, btw. :)
posted by unicorn chaser to Shopping (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you use regular post for the packages, you can use a Local Collect address (I do this, but in Canada, for packages that are too large to be brought home from work via public transit; it works great for me, but have no idea if you can request regular mail shipping instead of courier).
posted by jeather at 4:57 AM on September 23, 2019

This is a US-centric answer, but in our city it's common for people in this situation to check with local corner stores, some are willing to receive packages for a fee.

Alternatively we also have mail/shipping service stores where you can get a post box for a fee that will also receive and hold packages on your behalf.
posted by Karaage at 4:59 AM on September 23, 2019

Look into services which can delivery to some kind of holding point that you can get to on your commute.

Obviously for Amazon there’s Amazon lockers. Anything that goes through the Post Office you can arrange to have held at a local post office for you to pick up if the website is integrated with LocalCollect.

It looks like Hermes has started delivering to InPost lockers. There aren’t as many of those as there are Amazon lockers, but there might be one you can easily get to from your commute? Again, this probably relies on the website your using being integrated with this service.

Otherwise, you’re just going to have to restrict yourself to services which deliver evenings and weekends I think.
posted by pharm at 5:01 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oof - I feel you - I have literally (Really!) just gone to pick up a Hermes delivery from a local collect store and it's not there. Apparently the delivery guy picked it back up and took it back to the depot - I'm with you in that I appreciate they are under a lot of time pressure, but it is frustrating when you work.

I don't have a great answer but wanted to chime in and eagerly awaiting other solutions. Amazon lockers tend to be more reliable, but I'm trying not to use amazon either. The guy at my local collect store gave me an actual mobile number for the Hermes co-ordinator, who was helpful (although we'll see if the parcel ever comes back) so perhaps one option is finding a local collect shop and getting to know the staff - this guy was rude at first but I was polite and persistent so might be worth taking that approach.

My work used to let us deliver parcels but stopped - it's such a waste of time give we have someone at reception all day!
posted by sedimentary_deer at 5:12 AM on September 23, 2019

I think Hermes allows you to specify a 'safe place' instead of a neighbour - do you have any safe spot outdoors or a clean bin that would keep the parcel out of sight? I've used bins and behind raised beds, though it's in proportion with the value of the item, of course.

In answer to your total question, I actually can get deliveries at work but save it for crucial stuff (high value/delicate things like tech) and use a combination of: a) a larger lockable outside postbox I bought from An Post, the Irish postal service, which holds most parcels but only via An Post delivery, b) a locker for parcels I know will arrive unpredictably and needing a signature, c) working from home one day a week and trying my damnedest to schedule everything for then, and d) a 'safe place' note for any courier company that allows it. It sounds like only (b) and (d) are possible candidates for you, if even.
posted by carbide at 5:19 AM on September 23, 2019

If this is a really big problem for you is it worth considering a parcel box? They aren't cheap to buy (most I've seen seem to be ~£100 - £200 range) but would seem a good fix for you.
posted by *becca* at 5:24 AM on September 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

I sometimes have things delivered to my workplace address, but without giving them the company name, just my name and phone number. The courier calls me from downstairs and I nip down to meet them in the lobby.

Mind you, these days in Poland all courier companies have deals with various grocery stores, so it's never a big walk to collect a parcel. (Funny story - it's because Sunday trading is banned, but exceptions include post offices, so every corner store is a parcel collection point now.)

And from the home country of InPost, they're a godsend for these situations. And easy returns. At least until the locker room runs out before Christmas and you need to chase down the delivery van, dive in and hunt for your own parcel...
posted by I claim sanctuary at 6:20 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Is there a place where you live where parcels could be left relatively safely? Hereabouts, most items will just be left on your doorstep if you aren't home (even things that probably should not be). Most shippers have a way for you to create an account with them and log in to "manager your deliveries" and there will be a spot to leave directions for the driver like, "Leave package at the side door."
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:54 AM on September 23, 2019

I would make sure to submit feedback to the places who do not offer evening delivery to tell them the reason you are not ordering from them anymore. I would suggest a polite message like, "I would order from your company if I could be sure the package would come after a certain time of day."
posted by soelo at 7:55 AM on September 23, 2019

From the language in your post, it appears you are not in the US, so I'm not sure how much this applies. But is there a business near your workplace or on your commute route home that is what in the US we would call a "mailbox store" - they rent mailboxes to individuals and have desk staff that will sign for packages, hold them for you, and contact you to let you know that you have received a package. They will also accept packages you drop off to be sent elsewhere, which is helpful for returning items to the online store.
posted by matildaben at 10:36 AM on September 23, 2019

A few thoughts:

Vote with your feet and frequent retailers that will use a delivery method that works for you.

Royal Mail - at least you can pop into the post office at the weekend to get your bits.

Amazon Lockers or DHL pick up stations. Find out if any are near your home or office or accessible during your commute.

Finally, You can pay services to act as delivery address. Search for terms like service address or mail forwarding or virtual PO Box. A cursory google search suggests that a lot of hits in the UK will be for international mail forwarding or management but some seemed to offer a delivery address and mail storage for you. May not meet your needs but then it may.

posted by koahiatamadl at 11:35 AM on September 23, 2019

The recycling bin. We have someone who is at home pretty much all the time, and still some parcels end up being delivered to the recycling bin. Honestly, it's not a terrible solution.

When I lived by myself I mainly used Saturday deliveries and Amazon lockboxes and sometimes stuff got left with a neighbour (which I was not super comfortable with). I haven't heard of a really good solution in the UK, although at least now you can often see which delivery company will be used and decide whether it's really worth it. We've found that some are better than others for us - our least favourite is Royal Mail.
posted by plonkee at 3:00 PM on September 23, 2019

Things my partner and I do:

- Have it redirected to the local post shop or collection point (supermarkets offer this where I live)
- Have it sent to a friend who works at home and is always home to collect
- Have it sent to a friend who is allowed to accept personal mail or packages at their work

You can sometimes offer to sign a waiver where your local courier driver with a specific company will leave it in a pre-arranged safe location (in a bin etc.) but in my experience, they still don't always leave it (arrghgghghg) so we've stopped bothering with this approach. Where possible we also ask for non-signature, because it increases the chances of them just leaving it in the letterbox if it's small enough.
posted by BeeJiddy at 7:46 PM on September 23, 2019

I'm in the same situation, with the additional fun twists that I can't drive (so picking up a parcel from a depot can be a real challenge) and my letterbox is tiny (Victorian standard size rather than modern), so even things like paperback books are too big to fit. I've been avoiding buying online from anyone who can't deliver to a shop branch I can get to easily, deliver to the newsagent near work or offer a guaranteed delivery day. I keep thinking about getting a lockbox for parcels to install by the garden gate, but haven't taken the plunge yet.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:05 AM on September 28, 2019

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