REVIEW – Road rage. PTSD. Spam. Phishing. You know something has become widespread when there’s a name for it that most folks recognize. Here’s a new one – Porch Pirate. Those are the folks who drive around behind delivery vehicles and grab packages from the stoops of the intended recipient. And, like any good contagion, there is a solution. BoxLock is a lock for a porch box that can be unlocked by your delivery person only with the bar code of the tracking number of expected packages. The Gadgeteer, of course, is on the case and have been testing one they sent us. Read on for the details.
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What is it?
The BoxLock is a heavy-duty hasp-type lock with an integrated bar-code scanner. The software that you configure your lock with allows you to add package tracking numbers to the account. When the delivery person scans the tracking number from your package, the lock opens.
What’s in the box?
- MicroUSB charging cable
- USB 110V charger
- Instruction sheet
- Printed Master BarCode card
Design and features
The BoxLock is a bright yellow 1.25” triangular lock 5” long on the rear, and 3.5” long on the angle that faces forward. The hasp is 1.25” in diameter inside, and extends about that amount from the top in the locked position. One flat side is against the back of the hasp, the opposite angle faces out. When naturally grasped, your thumb falls onto that angle at the top, where a button is placed that, when pressed, engages a light and a bar-code scanner beam. When a package whose tracking number is entered into the lock’s account, the lock will open, and the owner of the account can get an alert. If the lock is left open for a set amount of time, another alert will be sent, warning the owner that the lock was not properly re-engaged.
Since the hasp is a pretty standard padlock size, it will fit into most places that can be secured by a standard padlock. This means you could even have your shed or backyard be the place the delivery person opens to leave your package. I had planned to move my rear deck box (which normally houses electric hedge clippers, electric blower, and a 100 ft. heavy-duty extension cord and various other garden implements) to the front porch to test the lock. BoxLock was kind enough to include a Step2 box, one of the models which they also sell from their website. This vented box came preassembled and ready to place on my front stoop. The deck box had to be assembled, which was not an easy task. The metal hasp fits the BoxLock perfectly, with the bright yellow of the box lock drawing attention to the “Deliveries” label molded into the box. This made no difference to drivers whose habits have become ingrained. But, if we can ever get deliveries there, it can be easily weighted and it would make walking off with packages a bit more problematic.
Performance in unlocking with a package was perfect. Also, when I sent the signal from my account to open the lock, it immediately popped open every time. The one area that could use some work is when I sent the barcode to my Lovely Bride for her to be able to unlock the box using it on her phone. She was never able to get that to work. I could wiggle it around and play with the various distances and angles and finally get it to work with her phone barcode, but she hasn’t the patience for that. Printing out a card that I would expect her to have on her person every time she goes to fetch packages from the porch is a little beyond the pale. I’ve only just gotten her to see the need to carry her phone on such missions.
The lock, when used by the delivery companies, worked flawlessly. Through my video doorbell, I watched the first driver walk up on the porch, check the notes I had left on the delivery, and walk up to the lockbox. He swung the lock up and saw the scanner in the bottom, and then tested the button. He then grabbed the package he had set down, scanned it, and chuckled slightly when the lock popped open in his hand. He put the package in the box, locked it back, and gave the lock a tug to ensure it was secure. This was repeated with each driver who bothered to read the delivery instructions. Which brings up another issue. I’m lucky to get drivers to read that I want packages delivered to the front door, where they will be out of the sun and rain. (Our side door is south-facing and gets blisteringly hot.) It doesn’t matter how many times I call and ask, There is always some new driver who takes the route, and it’s not delivered to the correct place. The other issue is that the Post Office delivers many packages for other carriers. If it’s a package that meets the USPS parcel minimums, all of the shippers just have them fulfill the shipment. These are stuffed in the mailbox along with the rest of the mail. Even valuable packages like RAM or medicines are shoved in the mailbox with the mail and left to bake in the sun.
What I Like
- Easy setup and entry of packages into account
- Auto-recognizes the “Big Three” common carriers (UPSP, FedEX, UPS)
- Allows adding other account users with their own custom barcode
What needs to be improved
- Getting carriers to use it is going to take time
- Using barcodes on phone screens in daylight is still problematic
I love this product. It addresses a real problem that is growing, especially around gift-giving seasons. I think it would earn a permanent place on my front porch, except for two factors: having a strong-box on your porch is not very “welcoming”, and my Lovely Bride can’t get into it through her phone barcode. The other side of this is getting carriers to use it. Most of the prescription medicine deliveries are left in the mailbox, rather than delivered to the door.