Deliveries on the Road – Amazon Lockers

I’m trying to get back into posting and I thought since the weather is getting nice and people are making plans to get back to traveling, I would start with a little travel tip/experience I have been wanting to write about. Getting deliveries and items on the road, that you may not be able to find during your travels.

Although I am big on having things delivered to my house instead of fighting a store, doing it on the road is honestly not something I had thought about. But when I was in upstate New York, due to Covid closures and being in more rural areas, I found myself in need of some things I just could not find to buy in stores. The first thing I found I needed was a new gauge for my battery. The wire had broke and wasn’t long enough to attach to the terminal and reach to the outside of the cover on the top anymore. They are around $6 on Amazon but I could not find a place locally that sold them. Then the first night it got cool I realized I forgot to pack my long cardigan. As a space saving measure when traveling in the fall, when the temperature is unpredictable, I usually take a knee length cardigan to wear over t-shirts instead of carrying a bunch of long sleeve shirts. Since it was still in the 90’s when I left Texas, I didn’t think much about it. I did pack a heavy coat, but nothing for cool, but not cold, weather. I tried to find something locally but my only options when I made the discovery were places like Dollar General and Wal-Mart, whose clothes do not fit me. Since I needed a couple things, I decided to check options with Amazon.

I have since found, talking to other people who travel a lot, that not everyone knows about Amazon lockers. I think I mainly know about them because I live in an area where package theft was really bad at one time and they were installed as a safer option to home deliveries. Honestly it’s a smart move for Amazon because if their service delivers the package, does not try to hide it and it gets stolen, they will usually replace it. This system, in the log run, saves them money. It turned out to be a great option, so I decided write about some of the things I experienced and tips, for if you try it in the future.

So how does this work? Instead of choosing an address to have a package delivered to, you choose a locker based on its location. The package is then delivered to the locker by Amazon and you are sent either a code to punch in, or a bar code to scan, when you get to the locker, that opens the door your package is in. I actually experienced both. The first one I picked up from, I had to type in a code, but the second one, I just scanned a bar code. You will get an email telling you when it’s available for pickup and instructions for that location. Given the numbers of Covid at the time, I preferred the scan option.

When you are searching for something on Amazon, the first thing you want to do is select your delivery location. This ensures that when you find something, it can be delivered to a locker and that the delivery dates it gives you when browsing, is correct. When you open the app it has your selected location at the top, as seen below. When you click on that, it gives you options to manage your address book. Through that you can search for pickup locations. In my case I knew the general area I planned to stay, but did not have a reservation yet, so I searched the largest city in the area.

Once you select a location, you will get a map of pick-up locations, that will all be Amazon lockers. Important point on this map, the numbers are not ranked in order of how close they are to the location you put in, they are a ranking of sites that Amazon gives that can best be explained as an “order of importance” of servicing. This matters if you need something quickly. I learned this as I explored locations and delivery times. I tried locations further south, because that was the general location I planned to be, but delivery times were 4-6 days. However, when putting in the locations labeled “1”, items would be ready for pick-up in the Amazon Prime 2 Day window. So you may have to balance how soon you need something with how far out of the way you are willing to drive.

The big thing question I want to address is the one I have gotten the most, what if I can’t pick it up? For instance, if it doesn’t arrive on time and I have reservations in another city I have to get to. That may be the best thing about this service, if you don’t pick it up in 3 days, it gets picked up by their delivery people and you get a full refund. I know for sure they will do that, because I had this happen at the location outside of Syracuse, where I originally planned to get both items I needed. Both were scheduled to be delivered the day I was leaving the area for the Adirondacks, but one ended up being delivered in the morning and the other one had still not arrived at 4:30 that evening. Given the time it took to drive and when check-ins closed at the next campground, I had to leave it. It was refunded to my account fully within 10 days.

The item that wasn’t delivered was the battery gage and I still needed one, so I decided to try again at another locker location. I had planned a longer stay in Lancaster, so I had one delivered there, and learned another valuable lesson on the lockers. Double check that the location you pick is not in a mall. As you can see from the map, I picked the top location due to delivery times, but did not read closely the notes on where the locker was. At the Right Aid outside of Syracuse, it was right inside the door, in that lobby area between the first and second set of doors , really easy to find. At the JCPenney, that was not the case. First I made the mistake of going on a Saturday and found that there were no signs outside the building telling you where the optical department was. I entered at the main entrance and had to go all the way through the store, on what I discovered was the second level, down the escalator, then all the way across the store to find the lockers. I get it, if you have people coming to your store just to pick up something they bought from someone else, you want to keep them in your store as long as possible, but if you are in a hurry, it’s not fun. Once I found them, it was easy to scan my code and get my item, just spent more time than I wanted.

In this post I’m not advocating for only buying things and having them delivered to you on the road. This is also not a paid advertisement for Amazon. I believe in supporting local business and buying as much as you can from the towns you stay in. However, if you find yourself in a situation like I did, where you can’t find something you really need, this is a good option to keep in mind and hopefully my experiences will make it a little easier for you if you chose to use it.

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