Our Northwest

Ready to hand Amazon the keys to your castle?

Friday, November 3, 2017by  PEMCO Insurance

delivery man holding multiple boxes 'Tis the season for porch pirates. 

You know, the brown-truck chasers who can't wait to plunder packages dropped off at your door.

But Amazon may have just come up with a way to lock them out. Literally.

Launching Nov. 8, "Amazon Key" lets Prime members in select cities (including Seattle and Portland) purchase a $250 electronic lock/security camera/app combination that allows Amazon Logistics drivers to unlock your door, set packages safely inside, and relock the door. You can use it to let in guests and service providers like house cleaners, too. Check out the details here.

Amazon calls the service a game-changer – and it certainly tackles the biggest consumer concern about online shopping. The drivers never have an actual key to your house (access is granted via app on a cloud service). Drop-offs are captured on video, and the service even has a five-minute failsafe to relock the door if your driver forgets.

Still, its success will depend on shopper acceptance. And that might be tougher to crack than a deadbolt, given skittishness over recent hacks and data breaches that have ensnared millions of consumers.

A few questions that popped up around our office this morning:

  • Would my dog try to bite the "intruder?"

    (Amazon says lock up your pets.)
  • Would I need to leave my alarm system off?

    (Yes or, if you can disarm it with your smartphone, turn it off before the driver opens the door.)
  • What would my neighbors think if I gave Amazon the code to our gated complex?

    (That depends on your neighbors.)
  • How long before hackers find a way to defeat Amazon's security?

    (Scary idea ... but in fairness, burglars still can break in the old-fashioned way.)

Then comes the question of who pays if something goes wrong. Before you take the plunge, you'd want to read the fine print in Amazon's agreement as well as your own homeowners policy.

Whether you can't wait for Key or want to wait and see, you still can take doable steps to safeguard any package delivered to your door. PEMCO suggests:

  • Use your work rather than home address for deliveries.

  • Have packages delivered to a trusted stay-at-home neighbor.

  • Request redelivery if no one is home to sign for a package.

  • Get text alerts when a package is about to be delivered or schedule deliveries online.

    For FedEx, it's Delivery Manager®. For UPS, it's My Choice™.
  • Use safe pickup sites, including

    FedEx Office locations, UPS Stores and Access Point™, and Amazon Locker
  • Consider an alarm gadget

    ​ like Northwest-born Package Guard.

The start of the holiday season also is a great time to double check general security measures around your home.

Please tell us what you think! Would you give Amazon Key a try? Or competing services (Walmart, for example, is testing something similar in California for grocery delivery)? Why or why not?

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