Not at home? Amazon wants to let delivery people inside your house

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Would you let a stranger in your house to drop off a package? Amazon hopes so. (WLS)

Would you let a stranger in your house to drop off a package? Amazon hopes so.

The online retailer said Wednesday that it will launch a service next month called Amazon Key that would allow delivery people to walk into your home and drop off a box when you're not there.

Those who want to use the service would need to be an Amazon Prime member and would have to buy a camera and a Wi-Fi-connected lock from the Seattle-based company that starts at $250. Shoppers will then be able to select in-home delivery on the Amazon app.

When the delivery person shows up, they will knock first, scan the package and Amazon will make sure the delivery person is at the right home and unlock the door. No codes are needed and the indoor camera will record the in-home delivery.

"I just had a couple of packages stolen off my front porch a couple of weeks ago and I would be totally up for it. I think it's a great idea," said Jennifer Price.

"I personally think it would be a little invasive if someone had access to just go on in and drop off a package," said Eddie Montesdeoca.

The service is likely to be more of a hit with younger families, said Timothy Carone, an associate teaching professor at University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. He said millennials are already comfortable posting photos and their whereabouts on Facebook, Instagram and other social media.

"They're less concerned about privacy than older generations are," Carone said.

Because the service will work only with the camera Amazon is selling, people may have to weigh the $250 price tag for the system against the convenience. Like with its popular Amazon Prime program, Amazon tries to make shopping with it so convenient that consumers don't think about buying elsewhere.

Amazon Key is meant to prevent the theft of packages, a common crime in Chicago. Derek Robinson realized his package had been stolen when he thought it simply never came.

"We went back and looked on the surveillance camera and saw that someone had actually jumped over the fence during the middle of the day and stolen the package and walked away as if it belonged to them," he said.

Amazon executives said while some may be skeptical of Amazon Key, they work to ensure the security of their customers.

"It certainly might meet the needs of some customers. Personally, it feels a little odd having a stranger in your house you're not familiar with. And considering the volume of packages that folks have delivered these days it could be a variety of individuals," Robinson said.

Walmart is testing a similar service in California's Silicon Valley, which lets delivery people drop off packages or stock the fridge with groceries bought from Walmart.com. The delivery person is given a one-time code to open the door and Walmart said customers will get an alert on their smartphones when someone enters.

Amazon.com Inc. said its service will be available Nov. 8 in 37 cities, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Denver. The company said the smart lock can also be used to let in housekeepers to scrub the kitchen, dog walkers to take your furry friend for a walk or out-of-town guests who want to make themselves at home.

Amazon said its in-home delivery service is covered by the Amazon Key Happiness Guarantee, which covers delivery issues, property damage or theft. And Amazon said the deliveries are carried out by drivers who are vetted with background checks and driving record reviews.

WLS-TV contributed to this report.

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