December 7, 2017

Many students have likely noticed the row of gray boxes that suddenly appeared outside of Lower-Beamer last week with no official explanation. Here’s what Wheaton students interviewed in the Beamer Center thought about them:

“We think it’s an Amazon… I forgot the name.”

“It’s delivery, so CPO will be gone?”

“I didn’t even know there were boxes out there.”

“It’s some 21st century thing.”

“Are our tuition dollars going to Amazon Lockers? If so, I will be using it.”

“They drop off stuff.”

“They’re an Amazon pick-up, storage thing. Someone stores something there.”

“Possibly a promotional deal”

“Not sure why they’re there and why we need it.”

“I don’t know what they are or how they work.”

Those gray boxes are actually Amazon Lockers. Amazon defines the lockers as “secure, self-service kiosks” that allow customers to pick up their packages where and when it is convenient for them. For Wheaton students, that means outside Lower-Beamer and seperate from the regular CPO hours.

There is no additional cost to use the lockers. To use one, customers select their choice of locker, add it to their address book on the Amazon account, and choose it as the shipping address instead of the CPO box address. After the package has arrived, Amazon will email a 6-digit code that customers will type in at the screen on the lockers and remove their package from said selected locker. The lockers can be used the same way for returns as well.

There is a catch. Packages must be picked up within three calendar days, or they will be returned to Amazon and refunded. In addition, there are some restrictions on certain items that can be shipped to the lockers. Depending on weight and size, certain things are not available to be delivered to a locker.

According to Postmaster Jeff Peltz, the AIT department had the idea to bring in the Amazon lockers. “I think one of their main ideas was that [the lockers are] going to help us with the number of packages that come in,” he explained. CPO receives around 400-500 packages a week, and the Amazon Lockers can hold 80 of those packages.

In addition, “the kids, faculty, staff and even the community — they can use it, too — have 24 hours access,” rather than having to wait for CPO hours, Peltz pointed out. Anyone that lives in Wheaton can choose the lockers as their shipping address, even if they are not a student at the college.

Peltz also explained that Amazon, FedEx, UPS and other providers that Amazon has agreements with can deliver the packages 24 hours a day, so they also do not have to conform to CPO work hours to drop off boxes. That said, “right now, it’s still a learning process for them, because there’s only one other locker in Wheaton,” Peltz added. Sometimes, CPO still receives the locker packages in their deliveries or drivers drop off the packages in other incorrect locations.

Most of the students interviewed had never used the lockers and didn’t know anyone that already had, but the Record did find a single locker user:

“I placed my first order to this locker a couple days ago.… My package should be delivered later today. I’m excited for it,” said Freshman Joel Armstrong.

We had the opportunity to follow up with Armstrong on the progress of his packages a day later. As we interviewed him, he excitedly displayed his first package to successfully go through the Amazon locker system.“This one I ordered two days ago and it came fine,” he said. “There was another one I ordered and it was marked as delivered on Amazon’s website, but I never got the codes to open the locker.”

When asked about how he felt about the efficiency of the Amazon lockers in relation to CPO, he commented: “It’s their [Amazon’s] carrier delivering to their Amazon locker and it didn’t end up in the locker. So it seems to me like CPO shouldn’t be involved in the transaction in anyway. And if CPO is involved, that’s a mistake on Amazon’s part. The thing was just installed and it’s possible the delivery guys just haven’t figured it out yet.” Despite the initial setbacks to the Amazon lockers, Armstrong is hopeful that over time there will be improvement. “I think it would be really cool if it worked because it’s open 24/7 and CPO is not. Having this system to take the stress of the people in CPO would be nice.”

Katherine Baylis contributed to this report.