“Free two-day shipping” are familiar words for any Amazon Prime user. For Penn students, however, the promise of a speedy delivery often translates into extra days of delay and frustration. Once Amazon establishes its own pickup location under 1920 Commons, the process is expected to become much more streamlined.
Many students take advantage of Amazon Prime's student discounts and use the site to buy a wide range of products — so much that almost half of all the packages in Penn mailrooms are from the giant online store.
Last spring, Amazon approached Penn about implementing a pickup system on campus. Already established at select universities such as Purdue University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amazon@Penn will allow students to quickly and securely ship their packages.
Amazon packages can be sent directly to the pickup location, and the Penn-specific website will have approximately two million products, many of which will be available for same day pickup.
“The locker bin system is a quicker, safer delivery point. You get a text from Amazon saying your package is here and you reply to that text,” Executive Director of Business Services Doug Berger said. “The person behind the scenes gets the text, finds the location of the package and puts it in the locker which you open with a [scannable] barcode.”
The pickup location will also feature a student lounge with collaborative space. “There will be a real synergy between having Gourmet Grocer, Starbucks, and now this, in a central location for students to come together,” Berger said.
Amazon@Penn will make deliveries — and returns — more efficient and can potentially increase the number of students that purchase their textbooks from the site.
“I order off Amazon all the time and constantly have the problem [with mailroom delays], especially when it comes to textbooks which in most cases you want as soon as possible,” College freshman Mike Morgan said.
By eliminating the mailroom delays, Amazon@Penn may become a popular option for purchases given its relatively lower prices. Currently, many customers, both on-campus and off-campus, have not been satisfied with Penn’s system, Berger explained.
The current system allows packages delivered by FedEx or UPS to go directly to the Penn mailrooms but packages delivered by USPS must go through the post office. Penn Mail Services then collects all Penn mail from the post office and delivers it to campus mailrooms, where mail is sorted by recipient and made ready for pick up.
“Apparently [Penn] only does pick-ups around twice a week so it can defeat the purpose of two-day shipping if you have Prime,” College freshman Mike Morgan said.
Many students are aware that when courier services deliver their packages, the mailroom typically sends a pickup notification the day of delivery. “However, when the package is from USPS, I’ve had to wait up to ten days to receive the package notification after the tracking says it’s been delivered,” Nursing freshman Anna Paez said.
Adding to the ambiguity, USPS tracking shows that a package is delivered once it arrives at the postal office, not once it is in the Penn mailroom. Thus, students often wait extra days without knowing the status of their package. College freshman Roy Roman is one student who has experienced frustration at the hands of the current delivery system.
“I have had to wait upwards of five days for packages that have been ‘delivered’ according to shipping services,” Roman said.
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