Uber’s drop-off centers are no place for building residents to have deliveries sent to

Returning something after it was delivered through an Uber car application is a quintessential millennial experience. But what about returning to my condo or apartment building and the elevator operator or doorman says, “You must be kidding! Return packages first thing Monday morning. You can’t come back now. You must leave them at our door by 5pm.”

Sigh. I get packages delivered to my office by FedEx, UPS, and DHL. I use all of them, but have yet to ask UPS to deliver to my apartment. I recognize the frustration it puts people into, and I live in a place where not everyone lives in a lift or high-rise building and everybody knows one another. But I can’t imagine lugging a four-foot box to the main entrance of my building, and lugging that box out during peak hours. That’s why it’s been frustrating not being able to get packages delivered through Uber’s drop-off center on Varick and 10th and order them in, plus even frustrating for colleagues in my office.

Airbnb operates a drop-off center in Chelsea, as well as one in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn. It has nothing to do with hotel guests—Ubered or not. Its center is designed to offer a safe, secure, convenient option to send packages and rent out your place. Sure, an Uber is fast and convenient, but it isn’t cheap. It’s not a business model that’s compatible with building residents. When you have a desire to schedule something other than a spontaneous spot for some wine and cookies, you just have to take it up with an Airbnb or Uber employee. Or worse, call them up and tell them to come to your building at 5pm to pick up packages.

Couriers often drop off packages in midtown and on West 57th Street, without noting that the building is in the way. We tried to ask the elevator operator about drop-off centers in our building, and he said, “I have no idea.” We called Uber, and they helpfully suggested in-house drop-off locations (“5pm on Mondays,” they told us). We called the five addresses, and our car arrived at 6pm, with bottles of rose for return. Then someone at the building complained that since I’d already spent money, it was my duty to pick up the parcels. So we left them at the building.

Why wasn’t this service designed for hotels, which serve the same purpose? Surely this company could give us better information about drop-off locations in our building. And since Uber takes the brunt of the responsibility for picking up deliveries within a building, this service could offer us some peace of mind by knowing that we didn’t have to bother people when they didn’t seem to want to know where it was.

More importantly, we can start dealing with Manhattan’s insane building management by understanding that there are certain places in this city where we have no choice but to use Uber and Airbnb. We can no longer wear high heels and pants all day, and we certainly can’t all be allowed to bicycle in the building with glass barriers between us and the building. And it’s not going to get any easier for those of us who aren’t so lucky.

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