Will Amazon's latest service be the key to ending package thefts?
Two of Ohio's major cities are about to find out.
Beginning Wednesday, the online giant will begin offering Amazon Key, a new, in-home delivery service, to Prime members in 37 cities, including Cincinnati and Cleveland.
The service, which for months has been tested in other cities, allows packages to be delivered inside the customer’s front door — without ever giving the courier a key.
Sound risky? Sure, but Amazon knows that.
That’s why customers who want to use the service must first purchase a Cloud Cam, which live-streams the entire delivery to the customer, and a compatible smart lock.
Once those are set up, Prime members in the Key service area will then be able to use the "in-home" delivery option at no extra cost when placing an order.
So, how does it work? During delivery, Amazon Logistics personnel (not UPS, FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service) will be able to scan packages for a one-time access code, which gives them five minutes to open the door to drop the package inside the house.
The same process is then used to lock the door once the package is inside, ensuring its delivery.
Meanwhile, the customer will receive notifications throughout the entire process – from the time the package is shipped to the time the courier leaves – along with a time-stamped video snippet of the package’s delivery.
“Amazon Key gives customers peace of mind knowing their orders have been safely delivered to their homes and are waiting for them when they walk through their doors," said Peter Larsen, vice president of Amazon’s delivery technology.
The customer also has the option of switching to traditional delivery at any time before the package is delivered.
Still turned off by granting a stranger access to your home? Similar services have already been tested in other places without issue.
According to USA TODAY, the Swedish postal service PostNord this spring tested a pilot project that gave package delivery staff a one-time code to the customer’s smart locks, allowing them to leave the package inside.
On a more informal basis, UPS customers nationwide have long given keys to drivers they’ve been acquainted with for years.
If you plan to use the service, the Amazon Cloud Cam and compatible smart lock bundle is available to Prime members in Key service areas for a starting price of $249.99. (The Cloud Cam is also available on its own for $119.99.)