Amazon has installed a metal lockers clutch outside a convenience store at the gas station in Fresno, Calif., so customers could pick up packages they did not want to be delivered directly to their homes. The robin’s-egg-blue lockers shared a self-service screen and featured the ubiquitous smiley logo of the e-commerce giant.
The problem, according to one Complaints from a Fresno City Councilor last November, they were placed along a poorly lit side of the building, away from security cameras. It was easy to predict what happened next: someone tried to enter the lockers.
The attempted break-in should have been a special time for Amazon, the board member said, Miguel Arias, because this unsupervised place would certainly appeal to criminals. The lockers could collectively hold thousands of dollars in merchandise, far more alluring than the cheap ice packs typically found in vending machines in front of pumps.
“I don’t know how they landed on a gas station,” Arias said of Amazon’s decision to install the lockers. “This is the place you grab a beer on your way home from work, not a place you go get your $ 500 iPhone.”
After Arias raised concerns, Fresno City Council voted to prevent the developer responsible for the convenience store, a local chain called Johnny Quik, from installing Amazon lockers at a new store it was looking to build in another place. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
Fresno isn’t alone in being frustrated with Amazon lockers, as the company is setting them up across the country to thwart thieves looking for its easy-to-recognize packages on neighborhood steps. Chicago residents were baffled in August when a set of Amazon lockers were installed directly on the alleys of two city parks, partially obstructing the paths and adding a corporate brand image to the green municipal facilities. Pictures of the lockers were widely shared on Twitter and Reddit. The companies also had doubts after making deals to house the lockers.
The Chicago dispute taps into broader objections to corporate intrusion into public property. Company names have been added to metro stations and high school sports stadiums. Even the National Parks Service thought it over name benches and interior spaces after corporate donors. Transport agencies cover buses and fill stations with advertisements.
An Amazon smile in a Chicago park might seem like a small, albeit obstructive, part of the corporate messaging tapestry already in the public sphere. Still, activists and civic planners are questioning whether parks should be added to the list of locations filled with corporate logos. The park space is meant to serve everyone, not just Amazon customers, said Jennifer Minner, professor of urban and regional planning at Cornell University.
“Installing lockers that basically serve people who spend money takes away a larger public benefit that serves more people,” Minner said.
Most locker locations are uncontroversial, and lockers at bus depots and 7-Elevens rarely raise eyebrows. Nonetheless, a poorly located locker plays into a larger image problem Amazon had in managing local relationships. The company has been accused of putting Main Street booksellers and local retailers out of business with predatory low prices. And community activists have raised concerns about the working conditions of Amazon’s contracted delivery drivers and in its warehouses – which are sometimes set up in disused shopping centers, it is criticized for closing its doors.
Amazon did not provide information on the implementation of security and crime prevention measures around its outdoor lockers, or the liability of the organizations that host the lockers. But Av Zammit, an Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement that the company values feedback from the community. Amazon is reviewing the placement of lockers in Chicago “to ensure that they are all located in appropriate areas that serve both customers and the community,” he said.
Amazon spokeswoman Alyssa Bronikowski provided further comments. “We have been working closely with the Chicago Park District since 2020 to add Amazon lockers following requests from the district for this added benefit to the community,” she said. “The goal of our partnership has been to provide park customers and community members with access to a secure and convenient delivery option.”
Amazon launched its lockers 10 years ago in Seattle, New York, and the Washington, DC area. Since then, lockers have been part of his Amazon Service Hub, which includes Whole Foods stores where Amazon customers can pick up their packages over the counter. In 2019, Amazon reported having installed lockers in more than 900 towns and villages in the USA.
Some high-rise apartments also have lockers installed so tenants don’t have to wait at the house for a delivery or depend on an apartment manager to give them their packages. Amazon Locker Plus locations offer self-service kiosks as well as an Amazon Assistant to help you. UPS also offers delivery lockers with its access point program, and some third-party companies offer lockers that accept packages from multiple carriers. Walmart has installed parcel lockers in its own stores, but recently started deleting them.
Lock the porch pirates
Amazon is marketing locker facilities as a way to fight porch hacking, another problem the company has helped create. The lockers also serve as a source of income for public agencies and the businesses that host them, although in many cases the rent paid by Amazon is not disclosed. In Jacksonville, Florida, for example, Amazon in partnership with the transport authority install lockers at bus stations and transport centers. The agency did not respond to a request for comment.
The company made a similar arrangement in Johnson County, Kansas, with local 7-Eleven stores. 7-Eleven did not respond to a request for information on how it handles the security of outdoor lockers.
Neither partnership has generated any complaints about security or vandalism.
However, the placement of Amazon lockers did not always go smoothly. Staples and RadioShack ended agreements with the company in 2013, removing a service that had invited a competitor to their stores. A set of lockers at Sacramento State University in California was removed two months after it was installed in 2014 because the campus bookstore had the exclusive right to serve as a bookseller at University.
Few installations have gone as badly as a recent placement at Brands Park in Chicago.
In photos posted online, a monolithic segment of lockers appears to consume about a third of the walkway and create a blind spot. The location is near a fence which would make it difficult for a delivery person to unload a parcel cart while still leaving room for park visitors, especially a visitor in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller.
Members of the community quickly objected. A petition calling for the removal of the lockers appeared on Change.org and has accumulated more than 13,000 signatures. (The goal was 15,000.) Alderman Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, who represents the neighborhood that includes the park, complained about the company’s logo tainting public property even though the city was receiving rent for them. investments.
Rodriguez-Sanchez said on Twitter that the Amazon-branded behemoths are “a slap in the face,” in part because they would net the Parks Department around $ 137,600 in the first year, at most.
Lockers have been removed from Brands Park, as well as another park in Chicago. The program, which had previously led to the installation of lockers at 49 parks and targeted a total of 102 locker locations, is on hold while the parks service reviews Amazon’s plans.
There’s also the question of how safe Amazon customers can feel when going to a park after work, potentially in the dark, to pick up a valuable package. In Fresno, City Councilor Arias said Johnny Quik lockers had become a convenience for his constituents because the convenience store was increasing security by installing additional lighting and security cameras. Still, he wondered how no one had thought of this concern to begin with.
“You can thank Amazon for a lot of innovations in their logistics delivery system,” Arias said. But the initial installation showed “a lack of understanding from the local community”.