back to article Google buys parcel storage service for Christmas

Google has acquired Canadian startup Bufferbox for an undisclosed sum. The self-serve parcel pick-up station outfit, which started life at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, announced it had been scooped up by the advertising giant on Friday. "As online shopping becomes a bigger part of how you buy products, we look …


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  1. Arachnoid

    Hmm.......ner do wells don't need a pin as a crow bar works just as well on an unattended box.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but better than being left on the doorstep by postie.

      1. Piro Silver badge

        Not where I live

        Had parcels left in the back porch through the day without a problem. But then I do live in the sticks (and glad of it, too!)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "but better than being left on the doorstep by postie."

        Or worked over by the frustrated nutters at HDNL (or whatever they're calling themselves this week), then chucked somewhere (a puddle being favourite) vaguely in the region of your postcode from a moving vehicle at least two days after the scheduled delivery. Twice if it's marked "fragile".

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Too much to hope for

    > goods they've ordered online to be shipped to one of its pick-up stations.

    > Amazon already has a similar service

    Why not just deliver stuff when people are at home?

    If all the delivery vans are standing idle after five-thirty and all weekend, too (as all the couriers are organised around business hours, not real people's hours) wouldn't it just be sensible to let delivery people have the chance to earn some overtime, or take a second job by offering EVENING DELIVERIES, rather than create and operate an entirely new, and inconvenient, service.

    No need for innovation. Just use the existing infrastructure for longer hours.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Too much to hope for

      good for businesses too. We used bybox for our parts service (parts to mobile engineers). Oddly enough breakins were quite low considering the value of items left in them.

    2. Simon Cresswell

      Re: Too much to hope for

      Amazon already offer evening delivery - as long as you live in central Paris and are prepared to pay handsomely for it.

      Even so, they still seem to be able to deliver 5 minutes before the cut-off. How DO they do that?

    3. BenR
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Too much to hope for

      I often think the same thing... but sadly when I sit down and think about it, the net effect is that deliveries become that much more expensive once you have to start paying delivery drivers unsociable hours, and overtime payments for weekends at 1.5x etc.

      I'd be fine with delivery during the day, if only they'd implement a service where the delivery driver merely contacts you when he sets off from his previous delivery / 15-20 mins before he arrives at my house, as that's more than enough time for me to make the short journey home to meet him.

      I realise that isn't a solution for EVERYONE of course... but the compared to the spectre of the dreaded 'morning delivery, any time between 0600 and 1300' that generally tends to arrive either just enough past 1000 to make it not worth going into work for the morning, or just late enough past 1300 to make the morning a waste and the afternoon a washout...

      Paris, because it's not hard now is it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Too much to hope for

        No reason the driver would need to make the call himself. Every parcel these days is barcoded and scanned upon delivery, and I'm betting all the major logistics companies plot the precise route a delivery van should take to minimise fuel use etc, so will have a rough idea of when any particular parcel is due for delivery. Just need to check which parcels haven't been delivered yet, and when its <x minutes to go (the recipient of the parcel can pick x depending on how far away they live), place an automated call/text to a phone number.

        Whee. I sense another obvious yet patentable invention coming!

        1. An0n C0w4rd

          Re: Too much to hope for

          DPD already do something like. A recent parcel delivered by DPD sent me an e-mail at 10:36am stating the package would be delivered between 10:57am and 11:57am.

          The technology isn't that difficult IMHO, especially with most of those electronic pads that they make you sign these days having cellular connectivity.

  3. frank ly

    'We have made rage a thing of the past'.

    Statements like that make me very, very angry.

  4. DoesAnyoneSpeakSense?

    I ordered something from Amazon recently and they text me the morning of the delivery to give me a one hour time slot. If only all couriers did that.

    1. bolccg

      I'd prefer

      If you could text *them* a one hour time slot.

  5. mark1978

    If Amazon just used Royal Mail for everything we'd be able to go to the Post Office to get the parcel, easy as. But they don't and don't give an option.

    1. James 100

      Royal Mail

      It doesn't help that Royal Mail charge extra - on top of the delivery fee - for Post Office collection; otherwise, you have to collect from their parcel depot instead. These days, they'll deliver to next door instead, unless you specifically tell them not to - which happens to work quite well here most of the time.

      Worse, last year I received a "we tried to deliver, come and get it" card from them - only to be told they couldn't find the parcel. They admitted they hadn't delivered it, but they had no idea what the parcel was or who had sent it, so there was no way to contact the sender either: it just disappeared.

      On the other hand, Citylink once missed a delivery to me (new laser printer) and insisted on collection from a depot 35 miles away - where, fortunately, my mother happened to be going anyway later that week. So, she was able to collect a laptop from them the next day. Yes, a laptop ... suddenly, Citylink became more cooperative when they needed to retrieve the £1000 parcel they'd given her by mistake: it turned out one of their drivers lived near me and was able to swap the laptop for my printer on his way home that night. Not an option until they needed to do it to correct their fiasco, though!

      I for one welcome our new lock-box overlords: sounds like a much more convenient route than the usual "go to our depot miles away, between 04:40 and 04:42 next Thursday, with a DNA sample and five different people's passports".

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Amazon decided that they could get a better deal

      than Royal Mail offered and switched to whatever courier they are now using. I think they made the decision during one of the postal disputes a few years ago.

      My worst experience of Royal Mail delivery is when the postman decided that the refuse bin was a good place to leave a parcel, with no card saying where he left it. It was a sheer fluke that it did not go out with the rubbish.

      I have been sitting in a room next to the front door for a whole morning, only to find a card saying that they'd attempted to deliver a package and could not get an answer. I'm surprised that the postman was even able to put the card through the door without me hearing, let alone ring the door bell. And the dogs didn't hear it either!

      This normally happens about 11:15 on a Saturday, with the parcel office closing at 12:00, and the card saying leave at least an hour before going to collect the parcel. Really gets my back up.

      I did drive up to my house one weekend to see the postman filling out the card before he even walked up the short path to attempt to deliver a package. He did not get a Christmas tip that year.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      That would be

      "If Amazon just used Royal Mail for everything we'd be able to go to the Post Office to get the parcel, easy as. But they don't and don't give an option."

      That would the Royal Fail parcel office which

      Isn't open when I'm at home.

      Doesn't have any parking nearrby

      Is staffed by numbnuts who consistently deliver my mail to the wrong TOWN.

      Don't even let me get started about parcelfarce.

      "Servicing the customer" isn't something done in a field, by a bull.

    4. cs94njw

      You wish :( Royal Mail will deliver it to your neighbour, or just send it back to the retailer.

      I'd much rather deal with Amazon than Royal Mail.

  6. Fogcat

    I've only recently noticed that Amazon UK now also offers delivery to various pick up points. My local corner shop being one of them.

    Worked a treat - they email you a bar code which you print out and take in to pick up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately, my nearest are 6 miles away :-(

      However I believe Co-Op are looking at becoming a partner, so then a 5 mins walk.

  7. MarkB

    Crucial question

    Who has the patent?

    1. JimS

      Re: Crucial question

      >Who has the patent?

      I think Apple are filing it sometime next year.

  8. markowen58
    Big Brother

    Odd choice of purchase

    it's not like Google actually ship stuff, I presume they are looking to get access to the order slip to establish your shopping habits. Not that i'm cynical of Google or anything.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Odd choice of purchase

      They do have a payment service, so it's only natural they are also interested in profiting from the shipping part. It might also simplify deployment of stuff like Nexus devices, as that doesn't seem to be going as smoothly as they wanted.

  9. Gene Cash Silver badge


    Is it going to be in a really nasty part of town, an hour away? That's the reason I don't do pickups at UPS now.

  10. artbristol

    Why didn't the Post Office / Royal Mail invent this?

    The nearest equivalent is that ancient relic the PO Box - which is expensive and bureaucratic (min 6 months signup!).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Amazon offered customers a NAMED delivery service

    If Amazon (eBuyer, etc) offered customers the choice of delivery service including specifying the particular courier and not just "express", "first", "cheapest", people might actually get the service they were paying for.

    Where Royal Mail works, people would use it.

    Where CityLink works, people would use it.

    Yodel would be out of business, which is where they deserve to be.

    Folk might even pay a small amount for the privilege of not having to do a multi-hour round trip to collect from some crappy courier.

    But that's far too simple, and removes the bargaining power with couriers from Amazon/eBuyer/etc.

    The Amazon UK "collect at cornershop" does sound a useful alternative to Royal Mail for where I am.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If Amazon offered customers a NAMED delivery service

      CollectPlus is a great service.

      I use it a lot as my local cornershop is an agent and as well as accepting deliveries they also take the returns.

      Given that my local shop is open 5.30am until 11pm 6 days a weeks and 6am until 10pm on a Sunday the hours are also very convenient.

    2. Benny

      Re: If Amazon offered customers a NAMED delivery service

      Why does everyone hate on Yodel?

      I've never had a problem with them, in fact they have been super helpful.

      Had deliveries that I missed, they left a card with a mobile number, rang that and the driver came back 15 mins later. This was at 18:15 when I got home from work.

      Seems good to me.

      1. paulf

        @ Benny Why does everyone hate on Yodel? Re: If Amazon offered customers a NAMED delivery service

        Ok, I'll bite.

        I'm very lucky - my employer allows us to have personal deliveries at work and this generates a lot of extra work for the guys in the warehouse (especially after a week of Amazon Black Friday deals when the increase in deliveries was palpable). A consequence is that they get to deal with the whole spectrum of carriers (RM, UPS, DHL, etc etc etc) and they tell me that Yodel are one of if not *the* worst they have to deal with.

        In my experience Yodel were TAPS. I ordered a box of plonk from Branson-Wines and company policy is that by default they leave it on the doorstep if you're not in (and they take the risk if it gets pinched before you get home).

        I had three "while you were out" cards from Yodel about that delivery (with no box left) and I only got my plonk when he showed up on the fourth occasion and I just happened to be home for lunch.

        YMMV but from reading these forums (fora?) over the years Yodel have a crappy reputation as the worst carrier which is richly deserved.

        1. Steven Batchelor

          Re: @ Benny Why does everyone hate on Yodel? If Amazon offered customers a NAMED delivery service

          Nio in my experience Shitty Link are heads and shoulders above the rest for crap service

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If Amazon offered customers a NAMED delivery service

        "I've never had a problem with [Yodel], in fact they have been super helpful."

        OK, so same logic applies. Let the customer choose the carrier.

        You'd be happy with Yodel, fair enough, you pick Yodel at the checkout.

        Lots (including me) wouldn't choose Yodel, ever, in my case because of personal experiences. It took them four weeks (with no communication in the interim) to get a UPS to me from fleaBay (a 400W one, so not mega-heavy even with battery). In the end I had to collect it from their local agent anyway (someone working from home, quite possibly without insurance for the goods or for business use of their vehicle, which had allegedly been broken down for the four weeks???). I forget what went wrong with the other occasion I dealt with them but I remember it was unnecessarily unpleasant.

        Give the customer the choice. Even charge a couple of quid extra if customers don't want the supplier to make the choice. What could possibly go wrong?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    does UK Gov Revenue and Customs know about this?

    Useful way for UK Tax authorities to get their payments from Amazon and Google

    leave a parcel with their "dosh" and email young Osborne at the Treasury

    sure he'll be please that Google are providing this FREE service!

  13. Arachnoid

    Too much to hope for

    On the topic of wages it actually costs very little extra to have a permanent evening shift for parcel delivery as your not paying them 1 1/2x wages but just an unsociable hours rate [well until the government intercedes on behalf of overburdened employers].

    This said many including myself work day and nights shifts [see we don't all work 9-5 Mon-Friday] so the best option would be to have a choice of delivery days and time slots for your area to select from.Its not rocket science on the part of the delivery companys after all we are in a modern computerized world not stuck in the past like Royal Mail seems to be.

  14. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Non-delivered stuff

    Is the problem for the sender, not the recipient - distance selling regulations, etc.

    Bending over backwards to assist a delivery agent who's fucking up removes the incentive for the sender to use a competent company. OTOH, raising billing disputes with your credit card company imposes large penalties on them.

    My experience is that pointing this out works wonders when dealing with suppliers who "only use XYZ courier"

  15. SoaG

    Bizzare idea

    I live just down the road from University of Waterloo, most of my neighbors are students. The big parcel delivery companies in Canada are Canada Post, Purolator, UPS and FedEX.

    Canada Post packages needing signature are left at the postal outlet in your nearest Shopper's Drug Mart for pickup until 9 weekdays and shorter hours on the weekend.

    UPS bought Mailboxes Etc. a few years back, now the UPS store, and do the same thing there.

    Fed Ex bought kinkos, same deal except the one near the universities may be open 24/7

    Purolator is the big courier here and they have their own outlets as well as 3rd party locations at retail stores including Staples.

    So since it's almost impossible to get something delivered that can't be picked up evenings and 7 days a week anyway, where did they come up with the idea and how did they con Google into thinking it was a viable business?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In my experience

    if I miss a postal delivery, I can pick it up from the parcel section of the Post Office at 7:30 AM the following morning.

    Also, about half the couriers will leave parcels at the Post Office if no one is home. (Some though will take the parcel back to the depot, which requires a phone call to arrange another delivery.)

    I live in Australia.

  17. cs94njw

    Amazon have this "drop box" in Reading's Oracle shopping centre. Not used it yet, but I like the idea.

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