Amazon promises it will shut and lock the door behind it. All you’ve got to do is fork over $249.99 (or more) for a Amazon Key In-Home Kit, place your usual order of kale chips — or schedule a sprucing up by the Merry Maids or a dog walk on Rover.com — and your wishes will be fulfilled as you blithely pursue life outside your castle.
Amazon Key kicks off in 37 metro areas across the U.S. on Nov. 8, with more locations on the way. You can’t have it, however, unless you’re an Amazon Prime member. On the other hand, installation is free if your locksmithing skills are subpar. In addition to a smart lock by Yale or Kwikset, the kit includes an Amazon Cloud Cam that’s placed inside your door to monitor all that transpires.
“This state-of-the-art technology doesn’t simply replace a key with a digital passcode. Each time a delivery driver requests access to a customer’s home, Amazon verifies that the correct driver is at the right address, at the intended time, through an encrypted authentication process. Once this process is successfully completed, Amazon Cloud Cam starts recording and the door is then unlocked. No access codes or keys are ever provided to delivery drivers,” according to Amazon’s release.
Oh, and Amazon’s Happiness Guarantee is part of the deal.
The service presumably solves a problem that’s been with society since the days of Pony Express but has been exacerbated by digital shopping carts.
“For many online shoppers, packages often linger for distressingly long hours outside their homes, where they can be stolen or soaked by rain. Now, if customers give it permission, Amazon’s couriers will unlock the front doors and drop packages inside when no one is home,” writes Nick Wingfield for the New York Times.
The Chicago Tribunes’s Robert Channick points out that the service is “[arriving] just in time for the holiday season, when porch piracy is at its peak. The 2017 Package Theft Report, a national survey conducted by Aurora, Ill.-based Schorr Packaging, found that nearly a third of respondents had personally experienced package delivery theft.”
What’s worse, from Amazon’s POV, is that “fear of theft affects online spending, according to the survey, with 41% of respondents saying they don’t buy items such as electronics online because they’re afraid the packages will get stolen.”
But not everyday greeted the announcement with an unfettered yip-yip-yippee yesterday. In fact, it led Christine Emba to expound a bit on the observation that “Amazon Key is Silicon Valley at its most out-of-touch” in the Washington Post (which, of course, is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos).
“The thought processes of Silicon Valley innovators are a curious thing. Many observers have noted that the most common proposals seem to fall into the category of 'things that I, a 25-year-old man, wish that I could still get my mother to do for me.' But even more eyebrow-raising is the fact many of these ideas share a curious misunderstanding of the average person’s hierarchy of goods — what things matter to them, and how much. It may come as a surprise to those who are willing to live in Google’s parking lot and drink Soylent meal replacement instead of eating real food, but some of us care about more than just convenience,” Emba writes.
But some of us don’t, as the rise and continued propagation of crap in Fast Food Nation has demonstrated time and again.
AJC.com’s Zuri Davis presents a few positive tweets about Amazon Key — “I'm just gonna say it, I think the Amazon Key thing is cool …” — before offsetting them with a battery of negative ones.
“I'm excited to watch the 2030 Netflix docudrama about the Amazon Key murders,” tweets one skeptic. “Hi. I used the Amazon Key service and now my Xbox is missing. Also, they let my cat out. I’d like to cancel,” writes another.
But the Amazon folks have got “Can I receive in-home delivery if I have a pet?” covered in a FAQ, of course. Or at least they’ve got their liability covered.
“We do not recommend using in-home delivery if your pet can access the front door on delivery day,” we’re told.