Delivery Drivers Can’t Find Your House Number: ‘I Took My Best Guess and Left It There.’
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Delivery Drivers Can’t Find Your House Number: ‘I Took My Best Guess and Left It There.’

Seasonal workers delivering holiday packages hunt for house numbers

By ESTHER FUNG
Fri, Dec 23, 2022 8:00amGrey Clock 4 min

With one click, shoppers expect items to be shipped to them with alacrity and precision, across continents and oceans. Why then, do so many people make it hard for delivery drivers to find their homes?

Tiny house numbers, perhaps OK for hawks or eagles but not human drivers in a moving vehicle, are among the top pet peeves, drivers say. So are Christmas decorations or snow blotting out mailbox numbers. House numbers spelled out in cursive are a pain.

Ditto for those in Roman numerals: Time is lost when workers have to drive by IV or V times to find the right house.

Steve Spitler, a seasonal delivery driver covering routes south of Atlanta, recently reached a driveway that had three houses. Only one had a house number and it wasn’t the address on his package, he said.

“There was nobody home at any of the places,” said Mr. Spitler, who is in his first season as a driver. “The middle house had a large A monogram on the door and it matched the last name of the package so I took my best guess and left it there.”

During the peak delivery season, the number of daily packages can reach around 100 million, up from an average of around 62 million to 72 million in other times of the year, according to parcel analytics firm ShipMatrix Inc.

To cope, companies such as FedEx Corp., United Parcel Service Inc., and Amazon.com Inc. hire thousands of seasonal drivers to ferry packages from Thanksgiving until as late as mid-January.

“A lot of times the same garland covering the number covers the Ring or the doorbell. It took me a while to find it,” said Claudia Alejandra Stokes, a first-time seasonal driver in Gulfport, Miss., about a recent delivery.

It was her first day and it was getting dark, and she ended up driving up and down the street twice. “When I finally found it, the owner was actually home and she was like, oh yeah, maybe I need to fix the garland so that people can see the number. And I said, it’s OK, I’ll remember this home forever,” said Ms. Stokes.

Repeat neighbourhood visits have helped her get faster in finding the right address.

“The first week was an experience,” she said. She got to know her routes better each day and by day five, she decided the best way to run her route was to flip it. “Start in the middle with the neighbourhoods I know get real dark at night and do the well-lit neighborhoods after that,” she said.

In places where homes are miles apart, drivers say they get help—if there’s cell service—from mapping applications from Google and Apple or county tax assessor websites. When that fails, approach passersby.

“I had to walk up to Christmas carolers and ask them for directions,” said J. Christopher McGuirk, a driver working in Glenwood Springs, Colo.

It was well below zero that night, he said, and the adults had seemingly “been enjoying a little holiday liquid cheer.” Everyone was friendly when they figured out what he was doing. One caroler asked if he was freezing to death. Another pointed out the house he was looking for.

FedEx, UPS and Amazon provide drivers with their respective routing software on hand-held tablets or on drivers’ mobile phones. The software provides timesaving information such as gate and building codes, descriptors such as “blue door,” and warnings previous deliverers contributed, such as the presence of an aggressive dog.

There is a limit to how precise or updated the instructions can be, drivers say, especially when home additions such as carports block the house number from the street.

In urban areas, homes are closer together and usually in numerical order, so drivers say they can use intuition to find a poorly-marked home. When buildings, or apartments inside them, are haphazardly numbered, finding the right address can take as long as 20 minutes. Residential complexes with multiple high-rises or labyrinthine layouts present special challenges.

“Oh my gosh, yes, mobile home parks typically have 300 to 400 homes. Numbering goes from one to four hundred, not in a sequence,” said Nitin Gupta, founder of Beans.Ai, a location-intelligence company that specialises in maps for delivery drivers.

These tools are helpful, but drivers say they often have to rely on their judgment to figure things out. Some joke that homeowners are pranking them.

“I feel people are watching videos later of the old lady struggling up the drive with the huge and heavy package,” said Kimberly Thompson, a 52-year-old driver in Greenville, S.C.

Parcel carriers and retailers often get a contact number for the recipient or instructions from customers. But vague instructions such as “It’s in the back” don’t help. One frequent response: “The back of what?”

Homeowner associations can help or hurt the cause. Some have strict aesthetics rules, including limiting colours for house numbers to just a few shades darker from their background. This can make addresses less visible under certain conditions, drivers say.

The U.S. Postal Service said every curbside mailbox should have address information and be clear of leaves, ice, and snow piles.

What about houses with no numbers at all? Residents said they do get packages delivered on their doorstep.

“I’ve never thought about that,” said Andrea Christie, a resident in Milford, Pa., whose single-family home doesn’t have a visible house number. “I’m lucky I haven’t had any issues with missing packages. I guess it’s funny when it’s not your package,” she said.

Drivers celebrate homeowners who make it easier for them. Some put out a basket of snacks and drinks, and handwritten notes. Others have house numbers that are backlit to make them more visible at night or in bad weather.

“That’s really helpful,” said Ms. Stokes, adding that the lighting helps her return to her vehicle more quickly when it’s dark.



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A ‘cheeky’ seat takes out the top prize at Australia’s Next Top Designers Awards

A cash prize from Kanebridge Quarterly magazine, offered for the first time this year, drew a record number of entries for the design competition

By KANEBRIDGE NEWS
Mon, Jun 17, 2024 2 min

A versatile stool with a sense of fun took out the top prize at the Australia’s Next Top Designers awards at Design Show Australia last week.

The ‘Cheeky’ stool designed by Maryam Moghadam was the unanimous winner among the judging panel, which included Kanebridge Quarterly magazine Editor in Chief, Robyn Willis, Workshopped Creative Director Olaf Sialkowski, Design Show event organiser, Andrew Vaughan and Creative Director at Flexmirror Australia, Matt Angus.

Designed as an occasional stool or side table, the Cheeky stool comes in a range of skin tones. The judges applauded its commercial applications, its flexibility to work in a range of environments, and its sense of play.

In accepting the $10,000 prize, designer Maryam Moghadam quipped she was pleased to see ‘other people find bums as funny as I do’. A finalist at last year’s awards, Moghadam will put the prize money towards bringing her product to market.

Winner Maryam Moghadam said the $10,000 prize money would be put towards developing her product further for market.

Australia’s Next Top Designers is in its fourth year, but this is the first year a cash prize has been offered. Kanebridge Quarterly magazine has put up the prize money to support the next generation of emerging industrial design talent in Australia.

Editor in Chief Robyn Willis said the cash prize offered the winner the opportunity to put the money towards whatever aspect of their business it would most benefit.

“That might be prototyping their product further, spending on marketing, or simply paying for travel or even childcare expenses to allow the designer to focus on their work and take it to the next stage,” she said. “We’re thrilled to be supporting this design program and nurturing emerging design in a very practical way.”

The Coralescence lamps from the Tide Pool series by Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa had strong commercial applications, the judges said.
The Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit is crafted from FSC-certified oak or walnut.

Two finalists were also awarded ‘highly commended’ by the judges — Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit and the Coralescence lights from Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa at Tide Pool Designs. The judges agreed both products were beautifully resolved from a design perspective, as well as having strong commercial applications in residential and hospitality design. 

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