Security issues rise in package delivery

via The Chronicle Herald

The rise of online shopping has led to a spike in Canada Post and UPS deliveries in recent years. But can Nova Scotians really trust the safe and secure arrival of their packages?

Sharon Snook, building manager at the Spring Garden Suites in Halifax, doesn’t think so.

In December, she received two reports of packages being delivered and left at the wrong apartments at 5770 Spring Garden Rd.

The packages were delivered when the residents weren’t home and therefore were unable to even buzz the delivery drivers into the building or tell them they had the wrong apartment numbers. Yet they were delivered, wrongly, in any case.

One of these parcels, delivered by UPS, is a nearly 80-pound bulging square that effectively blocked the entrance to a resident’s unit. The plastic ties, meant to keep the package together, were falling off and causing a trip hazard for anyone walking down the main floor hallway, Snook said.

“I don’t know how they expect this parcel to me moved. I don’t even know how they got it there,” she said during a phone interview on Jan. 8.

This incorrectly addressed parcel was delivered on Dec. 30. The tenant of the blocked unit was not home at the time of delivery.

But even if the female tenant had been home, Snook said, she is a senior who would have been unable to move it by herself. The parcel itself was so large the tenant wouldn’t even have been able to get by it, as she pulls a wheeled oxygen tank that wouldn’t have fit through the narrow space left in the doorway.

None of the staff could touch it. “None of us can, because if we hurt ourselves we are not covered. It’s not part of our job description,” said Snook.

She called UPS that day and asked them to pick it up. At first she was given “a hard time,” but she was later told that someone would be coming to get it.

Nearly two weeks later — after calls from the Chronicle Herald — UPS loaded the package back on their truck last Thursday.

This wrong delivery came right after another package, this one from Canada Post, was left in the building for a month.

In early December, a contractor doing work in the hallway brought the parcel to Snook’s office because he saw it sitting outside a unit.

Snook later discovered that the unit was vacant. The package was addressed to a resident who no longer lived there.

“They’re just leaving parcels, not even making sure they’re for the right people,” she said.

She contacted Canada Post that day and received an email reply saying that the issue had been resolved — but the package was still there.

“We had it here for a month,” she said. “They were supposed to come back and pick it up, but never did.”

She said a staff member had to physically bring it to the attention of a Canada Post worker who was dropping off other packages in January.

A tell-tale sign of someone being away is when a newspaper, flyer or package is left outside their door for an extended period of time. Police advise against allowing this to happen. Snook’s afraid incidents like these two set people up to have their units broken into.

“That tells people who are coming in for deliveries or anything else that the apartment is empty,” she said.

“If they haven’t taken a parcel in a week, it sets them up.”

The Chronicle Herald contacted both delivery companies last week to find out whether or not it was common practice to leave packages unattended.

“Shipments that don’t require a signature may be left in a safe place at the driver’s discretion. This includes places that are out of sight and might protect packages from theft and the elements,” said UPS spokeswoman Lisa Canzona in an emailed statement Tuesday.

Canzona also laid out four other options available to customers, which include tracking the status of a shipment or choosing a secure dropoff location in advance of delivery.

When pressed about the specific incident, Canzona said the Halifax centre manager had been notified to ensure drivers were following proper protocols.

In contrast, Canada Post says they don’t leave parcels outside of the doors of apartment or condo units — regardless of the circumstances.

“Our process for delivering parcels to apartment buildings is if the parcel can’t fit safely and securely in the apartment mailbox compartment, or requires a signature, the letter carrier will use the intercom to reach the customer to come down to the lobby,” said Canada Post spokesman Phil Legault in an emailed statement.

“If there’s no answer, a delivery notice card is left in the mailbox indicating where to pick up the parcel.”

He said he couldn’t find a customer ticket number noting the specific incident in question.

But Snook says these two deliveries are simply two recent examples of an ongoing issue.

Snook, who has been building manager for the past seven years, describes parcels being left in front of apartment doors as a “constant” issue — one that has grown progressively worse over the past two years.

She said some delivery drivers will have two or three deliveries to make in the building, so when one tenant buzzes them in, they will drop the other packages off while they are inside.

But she has also heard reports that some workers just walk in behind another resident.

She has received complaints from residents who have had packages stolen because they were left in front of their door while they were away.

And residents, some of whom are not even doing online shopping, have complained about the security issue.

“Not that our building isn’t safe and secure, but it’s not just our residents in this building,” she said, referring to visitors and contractors who have been doing work on the hallways and in units.

“It’s not that we don’t trust our residents, but there are people in any building who could pick up a parcel and go on with it.”

Snook said her office has always accepted packages, and will hold smaller packages in their office for tenants who are away. She said she has been approached by both Canada Post and UPS staff to do so, but not all delivery drivers, apparently, choose this option.

More than anything, she said, she just wants to see this trend come to an end.

“I would just like them to stop,” Snook said. “If they don’t get an answer, they shouldn’t be dropping parcels outside doors.”

Original publish date: Jan. 16, 2017

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