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Self-service Amazon Lockers come to Tampa Bay, offer delivery alternative

During the holiday season and beyond, Tampa Bay residents now have another option for online deliveries other than porches and post offices.

Instead of leaving packages to sit on doorsteps all day that could be stolen, or having to rush to a post office before 5 p.m., people can pick up items at one of the more than 20 Amazon Lockers now in the bay area.

The service launched in the company's hometown of Seattle in 2011. New York and London also got lockers around that time and the program's popularity grew, prompting Amazon to expand it this year, adding stations in metros across the country.

Tampa Bay alone had more than 20 lockers installed over the summer, most being situated outside 7-Eleven and Speedway convenience stores and gas stations.

When completing an order, customers can search for a locker by ZIP code or city. A map will pop up displaying nearby lockers. Amazon then sends customers a personalized code to enter or scan via the locker's touchscreen.

The service can be used for returns, too.

"I thought it was sketchy before I did it," said Molly Curls, 21, of Palm Harbor. "But it was so easy and convenient. It took about 30 seconds total — I walked in, entered the code given to me on Amazon and placed my item in the locker."

The lockers are bright yellow and have personalized names like Snyder, Nell and Kelsey to further assist customers in identifying them, Amazon says.

Most are accessible 24 hours a day.

The service is designed to help fend off 'porch pirates' — people who stalk doorsteps to steal packages.

According to InsuranceQuotes.com, nearly 23 million packages were stolen off doorsteps in the United States in 2015 alone.

"Thieves — or 'porch pirates' — are well aware that, this time of year especially, there are boxes and presents for the taking on front porches and doorsteps," said Tampa police spokesman Stephen Hegarty. "We advise people to have their boxes delivered at a time they are home, or sent to the home of a trusted neighbor, or to require a signature. If people are doing business with Amazon, the lockers are an alternative worth looking into. We support any method that helps keep deliveries safe."

Shipping to an Amazon Locker requires no additional fee. The location of the locker may affect the availability of same-day or one-day delivery, according to Amazon.

Eligible orders have to weigh 10 pounds or less and have product dimensions smaller than 16.5 x 13.8 x 12.6 inches.

Find out more about how the program works here.

Samantha Putterman can be reached at sputterman@tampabay.com. Follow @samputterman.

Dozens of large, yellow Amazon lockers were installed outside gas stations and convenience stores across Tampa Bay over the summer. The self-service program allows Amazon customers to receive and return packages at the locker of their choosing - most being accessible 24 hours a day. SAMANTHA PUTTERMAN | Times

Dozens of large, yellow Amazon lockers were installed outside gas stations and convenience stores across Tampa Bay over the summer. The self-service program allows Amazon customers to receive and return packages at the locker of their choosing - most being accessible 24 hours a day. SAMANTHA PUTTERMAN | Times

In addition to Amazon Lockers, here are some other ways to avoid having a package stolen from your porch.

• If you have a P.O. Box did you know the Post Office provides a street address for that P.O. Box? Whenever you are told a package cannot be sent to a P.O. Box, you can use the street address instead. Ask for the street address at your Post Office.

• Many of the delivery companies allow you to reroute a package that is on the way to another address or to one of the company locations. Creating an online account with that company will give you more options such as customizing a delivery window or changing the day of delivery. With UPS My Choice, you will get an alert with a tracking number for any packages sent via UPS to the registered address, even if a friend or relative is trying to surprise you with a gift.

• Some apps will track packages for you. One option is Slice, which will not only track all of your packages in one place, it will keep a history of your purchases from various vendors and let you know if the price drops on a recently purchased item. You will have it to give it access to the email account you use for online shopping. More information is at https://www.slice.com/home

• Package Guard is a device you can place on your porch instructing delivery men to leave the package on top of it. Packages can be stacked on top of each other. With an app for your smart phone, you'll get an alert when a package is delivered. If someone removes a package, an alarm goes off and will not shut off until you turn it off on your phone. It costs $69. More information is available at https://www.thepackageguard.com

• Landport is a storage locker that can be bolted down on your porch. A code is required to unlock the box and you can provide that to the delivery person in delivery preferences when you place the order or as part of your shipping address on the second line. This product is a little pricier starting at $499. See http://www.thelandport.com/ for more information.

• Use technology to know when a package has arrived at your house and then ask a neighbor or a friend to pick up that package if you are not going to be home for a few hours.

— Compiled by Times Staff Writer Carolyn Edds

Self-service Amazon Lockers come to Tampa Bay, offer delivery alternative 12/20/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 4:34pm]
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