When Amazon announced earlier this month that they would be using the U.S. Postal Service to deliver groceries in San Francisco, it seems like folks reacted with a collective shrug. Having your mailman deliver your Amazon Fresh foodstuffs? Sure, why not? Well, here's one reason: because the postal service says that they'll be delivering these groceries in branded totes, and leaving them outside your home (without ringing your bell or anything) between 3 and 7 in the morning. Sure, that's going to work!
According to a Wall Street Journal report from when the Amazon Fresh/USPS joint effort was announced, a postal service spokesperson "said the USPS is making the drop-offs between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m.; few of its trucks are in use at those hours. Because Amazon uses insulated tote bags for perishable groceries, the agency can make deliveries without the benefit of refrigerated trucks."
Consumerist today points us to a notice the USPS filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission, which gives more details on the program, already underway in SF but something the agency hopes to expand:
In the current process, the retailer brings groceries already packed into retailer-branded totes, some of which are chilled or include freezer packs, directly into Postal Service destination delivery units (DDUs) between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. The totes are all the same size and color, and have a QR code on the outside.
City Carrier Assistants (CCAs) scan totes using iPhone scanning, which provides route order information via a USPS-developed iOS application. The totes are sorted on the workroom floor by route and delivery order, and are then back-loaded to a truck for delivery. Deliveries occur from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. These deliveries are unattended — the CCA will not ring the doorbell or knock on the door. The carrier places the totes in a location designated by the consumer for delivery. Totes are scanned at key steps in the process to provide tracking and visibility through to delivery. CCAs wear postal uniforms and lighted caps as a safety measure and for easy recognition by the public.
According to the filing (you can read the whole thing here), this system has been working just great in San Francisco. Which, really? This is a city where a woman can't leave a stroller locked to the front of her North Beach home without it getting swiped. This is a place where, if my September issues are too big for my Outer Sunset mailbox, my mailman rings the bell because "if you leave anything out these days it'll get stole," he says. But a bunch of Amazon-branded totebags full of groceries sitting in front of a house in the wee hours of the morning goes unmolested?
This, my friends, strains even my credulity. Does it yours?