You know what really sucks? When you come home and find you missed a package delivery from USPS, UPS or FedEx. Or you come home and find that $US1000 gadget you ordered sitting on your front stoop where anyone could snatch it.
The worst, however, is when you are actually at home and they assume you’re not, and don’t even bother ringing the doorbell. And considering many of us work during the day, it can be a pain in the arse to try and get to the shipping depot to try and pick up a package. So we’re inevitably caught in an endless loop of missed delivery attempts and inconvenience.
A Canadian company called BufferBox thinks they have a more elegant solution for all of this – in their home country, at least. Instead of leaving a missed delivery notice when you’re not home, they just drop your package in a community mailbox that is electronically locked up, and will only unlock when you enter the tracking number and your driver’s ID number. In their ideal world, there would be one of these community mailboxes within walking distance of everyone’s home.
This is an intriguing idea to be sure, even if there are some potential roadblocks. Primarily, it would be nearly impossible to roll out an entire infrastructure of these package pickup kiosks without major government funding, or all the major shipping services getting involved. And having these things within walking distance seems unrealistic. Driving distance perhaps, but there’s not a whole lot in suburban America that’s walking distance. And there will always be an odd-sized (or shaped) package that won’t fit in a BufferBox. But it does call attention to an important issue: there needs to be a better way to ship and receive packages.
Why is it so important to find a better method? Because we use shipping services more than ever. Thanks to services like Amazon Prime, it’s just as easy to order something online and wait 48 hours than it is to go searching for it in stores. You can attribute that partially to the fact that we’re all turning into a bunch of slothful, chair-fused neckbeards. But honestly, online shopping is just more efficient. Retail locations just can’t possibly stock the same breadth of specialised items. So we’re far more reliant on shipping services for essential goods that we need in our daily lives.
As it stands now, shipping companies need to find a way to make package delivery more convenient without wasting the time of their driver. Business hours are probably the worst possible time for a driver to go around and attempt to make residential deliveries when the world is at the office (but he’s still an asshole for not bothering to ring the doorbell). It’s simply not efficient. But even if it was possible to drop off every package between the hours of 6p and 9p, who’s wants to be bothered to say we would even be home?
And I get it. Shipping is a logistical clusterfuck. There’s no way for a company to effectively coordinate time of delivery with the availability of recipient. But if there were a solution using smart mailboxes like the ones described above after a missed deliver attempt, it would, at the very least, cut down on the subsequent number of stops a driver had to make, ensure the security of the package in question (if properly implemented), and give recipients more flexibility as to when they could pick up their package without fear of it being sent back to the sender. Hell, if you wanted, you could even install a secure box somewhere on the exterior of your home that would be like a second mailbox, and save even more time.
But the shipping process can’t keep functioning the way it is, it’s gonna take more than just one company with a good idea. All the major shipping companies, including the USPS, need to adopt a single standard for secure, publicly accessible dropboxes, and fully commit to it. They would also need to agree on a unified set of tracking numbers and driver ID numbers. Is that even realistic? It’s arguable. Maybe UPS and their ilk think this is the dumbest idea ever. But I just know I’m tired of seeing those rage-inspiring sticky notes on my door. So for the love of god, package pushers, will you come up with SOMETHING – ANYTHING! – better?