Solution to lost package issue evades apartment residents

By Pham Nga   July 26, 2023 | 05:32 am PT
Solution to lost package issue evades apartment residents
A resident picking up a package in an apartment lobby on July 16, 2023. Photo courtesy of person shown
While at a friend’s house about 5 km from her home, Hanoian Quynh Hoa received several calls from a delivery service asking her to come pick up her package.

It was the middle of a sweltering summer day in Vietnam’s notoriously hot capital city. The package was a jar of supplements worth almost VND1 million ($42.24). Hoa asked the delivery person to give it to the security guard, but was declined.

The management board announced that all packages delivered to the lobby must have the name and apartment number of the recipient, but in the end the security guard still refused to hold onto them for the residents. A number of people had already complained to management about losing their packages.

The guard said that he was not paid to look after the residents’ items. "If the residents lose their stuff then they’ll begin to curse at me, hinting that the guards are the ones who stole it. Why do we have to do more work just to have our reputation ruined?"

This explanation from the guard made Quynh Hoa too tired to retort.

The problem of losing packages in the lobby is quite common in apartment buildings and causes a lot of hassle for the residents. A VnExpress survey of over 1,000 readers indicated that over 70% said packages have been lost in their apartment’s lobby (33% frequently, 41% occasionally).

Huynh Huu Phuong, a member of the apartment management board for 5,000 residents in Nha Be District, HCMC, occasionally hears people complaining about losing their packages in the lobby.

"Although the guards of the building do not have the obligation to hold onto their packages, residents who lose theirs will go down and make a scene in the lobby," Phuong says.

In an apartment building in Hanoi's Nam Tu Liem District, 45-year-old Nguyen Bich Hang has never lost a package, but was involved in a related situation.

Doctor Truong Hoang Truong, head of the Urbanism Department at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities HCMC, said lost packages were one of the new problems cropping up in apartment buildings as shipping services become more popular.

When residents cannot receive their packages themselves at the time of deliveries, they have no choice other than to ask their security guard to watch it in the lobby. However, many guards don’t want to have anything to do with this extra work and so many items get lost or stolen.

Lost items bring trouble to residents, guards and management boards.

However, a majority of apartment buildings do not have any rules about security guards or management having to claim responsibility for the safety of residents’ items. "Most of the residents haven’t developed the habit of protecting their property yet, so thieves are able to take advantage," Truong says.

Phuong has the same opinion, saying that the problem of lost packages is firstly due to the fact that residents do not know how to protect their own properties.

According to Truong, the most plausible solution now to ensure the safety of the residents’ property is to have management come to an agreement with delivery services and the residents.

Truong suggests that residents pay a fee for the guard to hold onto their packages for them. "They will have the benefit of not losing their items and have the responsibility to pay the fee at the same time."

A number of apartment complexes have applied the method Truong recommended, connecting with the shipping service and residents to build a smart locker so when the shipper comes, they can unlock the locker, put the package inside, and lock it.

The residents that own each locker then pick it up when they get home, eliminating the fear of losing their packages.

Even so, Phuong does not think this solution is suitable for buildings that have a lot of residents like the one he is working at.

"There are 1,800 apartments with 5,000 residents where I live, how is there going to be enough space to put all those lockers?" he says.

Furthermore, not every resident is willing to pay an extra service fee. According to Phuong, the best solution is for the residents to receive their package as soon as the shipper delivers it, or come to an individual agreement with the guard, or receptionist to hold onto it for them.

Lawyer Tran Ngoc Thach stated that nowadays apartment management usually signs an agreement with residents about a security fee. However, in reality, no actual party is willing to be responsible for the loss of property in residents’ apartments, and especially for packages placed elsewhere on the apartment premises.

"This is understandable, as no apartment management board can control the personal properties of the residents," the lawyer says.

Quynh Hoa, who had to drive 5 km in the scorching heat to accept her delivery, demanded that her building’s management board allow residents to leave their packages with security. The management and security guards agreed to this, but also said they could not be held responsible if a package is lost.

"This solution might as well as not exist," Hoa says. If it’s something cheap or if I’m not home then I’ll reluctantly have them hold onto it, but if it’s something expensive then no one would want to leave it there."

go to top