Getting Packages in My Building Is Chaotic. What Can I Do?

Getting Packages in My Building Is Chaotic. What Can I Do?

The pandemic has exacerbated the onslaught of deliveries. Management should consider changes to staffing, storage capacity or building policy.

Q: The package situation in my co-op feels chaotic. We have a doorman, who attends to the lobby, but if someone needs to retrieve a package, he has to get it from a storage area, leaving the lobby unattended. The package room is often overloaded, making it hard for him to find items, and some people don’t pick up their boxes for days, adding to the clutter. I can only imagine how busy it’s going to get over the holidays. There must be a better way to do this, right?

A: The onslaught of package deliveries was bad before the pandemic, but it’s been exacerbated in the past year as people started ordering everything online, from dish soap to dresses. Add to the mix typical holiday shopping and extraordinary shipping delays, and you have a recipe for a very confused and cluttered package room.

“Package deliveries have not been just a seasonal issue — they’ve been a 52-week issue,” said Dan Wurtzel, the president of FirstService Residential New York, a property manager. “There are significant challenges around where to store stuff and how to manage the volume of packages.”

From what you describe, it sounds like your building is struggling with three separate problems: staffing shortages, a lack of appropriate space and an ineffective delivery system. All three issues could be managed better.

Contact the managing agent and the board, laying out your concerns. Use specific examples, if you can, and be clear that you are looking for a solution to an ongoing issue.

The doorman is being asked to be in two places at once, an impossible task, and one that creates a safety hazard when the lobby is left unattended. The building needs to hire more people, or ask existing staff members to provide backup at busy hours. The package room might need an overhaul. It might be too small or poorly organized. The building should establish rules for residents who do not pick up their packages in a timely manner. It could move unclaimed boxes to a secondary storage area, and require residents to schedule a pickup time. Or management could get permission to drop off packages inside individual apartments. If a new policy is put in place, management should communicate this clearly to residents.

The building should also re-evaluate how it logs packages as they are delivered and disseminated so they do not end up in the wrong hands. Many buildings are moving to electronic tracking systems, which yours might want to consider. “Having a computerized front desk program where you can scan packages is really important now,” Mr. Wurtzel said. “A manual log is susceptible to human error.”

With a few fixes, you leave less room for error.

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