Apartment security systems and the blame game on deliveries…

5 minute read

September 28, 2016, 11:21 AM

Sometimes, you really have to just shake your head at the lameness when people play the blame game.  Last year, the management at the apartment complex where I’ve lived for the last nine years (!) made some improvements to the property, including painting and carpeting the vestibule, and installing a new security system, making the front door of my building access-controlled, rather than unsecured.  The paint is, for the most part, just lovely.  The security system, meanwhile, is, in general, a good thing, but a number of bad decisions made by the property management have made the system into a mixed blessing.

On one hand, having access control on the front door keeps the annoying salespeople and door flyers away (but that doesn’t stop people from flyering the cars in the parking lot, which is equally bothersome).  It also keeps others who have no business being in the building out, such as a homeless guy that was passed out in the laundry room one night with several empty cans of beer around him.  I ended up calling the police on him, because I didn’t know what his deal was, they’re trained to handle things like this, and I had to do my laundry.  Likewise, I found two teenagers who didn’t live in the building just hanging out in the laundry room one night.  They seemed harmless enough, and they were gone by the time I came back to change loads.  I like to think that seeing me in a bathrobe scared them off.  But nonetheless, they had no business being in the building in the first place.  The security system keeps these kinds of people out of my building, and gives reasonable assurance that anyone who doesn’t live there was let in by someone who does.  So the system overall is a net positive.

However, the property management failed on a number of details that make this system less suited for an apartment building.  As I understand it, apartment buildings with access control have an intercom system to make contact with the residents and buzz guests in.  No such system here.  If you want to get access to the building, you have to call me on your phone, and I have to physically walk down and let you in.  I can’t just say, “Okay!” and press a button to unlock the door.  Let’s just say that I’m glad that the access control system wasn’t in place when I got hurt last year and my mobility was limited.  Imagine trying to hobble down the stairs on crutches just to let Mom in when I could barely move as it was, and considering that I had several instances where I nearly killed myself trying to move on those things in the first place.  Once I was in the house after the initial injury, until I got the boot, I didn’t do stairs without adult supervision.

But the most frustrating thing about this security system is getting packages delivered.  With the doors now locked, delivery companies need access to the building in order to deliver packages.  While the property management has given all of us who live here a key fob to scan to enter the building, delivery people enter a code provided by the property management to get in on a keypad.  USPS, UPS, and FedEx can typically get in to make their deliveries, but if a vendor is using another company for the delivery, such as LaserShip or Amazon Logistics, then it starts to get a little questionable.  It usually breaks down to one of three scenarios.  Either I get my package delivered properly to my door, my package gets diverted to the property management office and I have to pick it up from there, or I don’t get my package at all, and it’s returned to the vendor.  The ideal situation would be the first scenario, where every package lands at my front door.  The second scenario is tolerable to an extent, however, it certainly would make me think twice about ordering that 55-gallon drum of lube and having it shipped to the house.  The third situation, as you would imagine, is unacceptable.

The problem comes with that delivery code.  Amazon has a space where I can enter a delivery access code:

Amazon security access code

As you would imagine, the way this works is that I can enter a door code into this field, the Amazon delivery person gets the code as part of their delivery information, they enter it, they enter, and they leave the package at my door.  However, the property management won’t give me the code to pass on to the Amazon people, telling me that the delivery people need to get the code directly from them, and that they won’t give door codes to residents.  When I put “see leasing office for access code” in the access code field, the package comes back as undeliverable, and typically then turns into scenario #3, where I don’t get my package at all.  If I don’t put anything there, they try once, and then I have to divert it to the property management office.  The property management office has told me that they try to give the code to the courier to deliver it to the door, but when their instructions say to deliver it to the management office, they refuse the code, leave the package at the management office, and leave.  There is also no way to divert a package to an Amazon locker at this point.  There is an Amazon locker location at a Shoppers store near my work, but it is not available as a backup delivery location.  If you don’t choose a locker delivery up front, you can’t revert to it later (and some deliveries are too big for a locker, anyway).

This is also where you recognize that if the management had installed an intercom and the ability to buzz people in, this wouldn’t be as much of a problem, because at least if I’m home, Amazon and the like could contact me and I could buzz them in.  And there is nothing more infuruating than having a delivery marked as undeliverable when you’re home, but there’s no way for the delivery person to make contact or otherwise make their presence known.

Understandably, Amazon only takes orders from me when it comes to delivering my packages, since I’m the customer and not the property management.  But clearly, we have a problem, and it’s not with me or with Amazon Logistics: it’s with the property management, who is standing in the way like a 500-pound gorilla.  Clearly, their method, where residents are not provided their own access codes, nor the ability to pass on an access code to delivery personnel, is not working.  The property management in turn blames Amazon for not coming to get an access code.  But since I’m Amazon’s customer, they will only take instructions from me.  And I can’t give them a code to get in because management won’t give one to me.  This is a problem that is entirely within management’s control to fix, and they have chosen not to fix it, and point fingers instead.

In the end, all signs seem to point to that the property management did an extremely poor job in installing and managing this security system.  From what I can tell, this system would be well-suited for a business or other entity that is open during the day, and requires access credentials after hours, where packages are delivered while the business is open.  It’s not very well suited for a residential application, where the doors are always secured.

In any case, as far as I’m concerned, management could easily fix this, but they choose not to, and this leaves everyone else frustrated.  Sigh…

Categories: House, Security