Many of us with diabetes purchase our medical supplies and prescriptions online and have them shipped directly to our homes. There is nothing more frustrating than to come home from work and find your insulin on the front porch in -10 degree weather (Minneapolis in January) or +110 degree weather (Phoenix in July). Some of us have waited all day in an upstairs apartment for the arrival of a new pump only to find a sticky note at the building front door announcing a failed delivery attempt.
Depending on where you live, these problems can be avoided with a little advance planning. I live in a suburb of Minneapolis and have both a FedEx Office and a UPS Store within 10 miles of my house. By using online tools and programs provided by FedEx and UPS, I am able to route my packages to these stores and avoid a lot of the frustration that accompanies botched package deliveries.
Most of my medical supplies come from Edgepark and are shipped through UPS. I receive an email when my supplies ship along with the UPS tracking number. After that I benefit from a program called UPS My Choice. The slogan for this program is “Get Home Delivery on your Schedule.” You need to sign up for this program ahead of time and there is no charge for enrollment.
With the UPS My Choice program you get free-of-charge delivery notices along with an approximate delivery time. You can use the Authorize Shipment Release to request that eligible packages be dropped off without a signature. Most importantly you get the ability to schedule a delivery time that fits your schedule, reroute the package to another address, or reroute the package to a UPS Store where you can pick it up at your convenience.
If you enroll in the free version of the My Choice Program you must pay $5 each time that you use the reschedule or reroute options. When I know I won’t be home for a delivery that has a 3-month supply of test strips, CGM sensors, reservoirs, and infusion sets, it is worth $5 to me to know that I can pick up the package at the UPS Store without worrying about temperature extremes, theft off my front porch, or signature requirements.
Another option is the UPS My Choice Premium Plan. An annual fee of $40 entitles you to unlimited reroutes and reschedules of your packages. Because I don’t use the service enough to justify the $40 charge, I choose to pay $5 per use. But if you have a home business or buy everything on Amazon along with lots of medical deliveries, this plan might be a better deal for you.
FedEx has a program called Hold at Location (HAL) where you can ship or redirect a package to a FedEx Office location. When a package is set up for transit, you can have the sender select the HAL service. They would address it with your name, the address of the desired FedEx Office, and select Hold at Location. Many large companies won’t bother doing this for you and sometimes you don’t know ahead of time which vendor they are using to ship your package anyway.
What I do with FedEx is wait until I have received the tracking number from the shipper. At that point I can go into the FedEx tracking site and select the option of redirecting it to a nearby FedEx Office location. This service is available for FedEx Express, FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery packages. I can do this before any delivery attempt is made or after I have received a door tag when I missed the delivery. It is incredibly convenient and unlike UPS, there is no charge for this service. I reroute almost all of my temperature sensitive and/or valuable packages to FedEx Office so I don’t have to deal with staying home to accept delivery.
When I signed up for UPS My Choice a few years ago, it took a day or two before my account became active. Therefore I suggest you sign up ahead of time so your account will be ready to go when you need it. With FedEx there is no requirement to register ahead of time.
Be sure to understand the rules and restrictions of these programs. For example, FedEx Office will only hold your package for 5 business days and in most instances, the person to whom the package is addressed must pick up the package and show a valid photo ID. Know that not all packages can be released by an online signature if the shipper requires a delivery confirmation signature.
To find out about or enroll in UPS My Choice, click here. To learn about FedEx Hold at Location, click here. If you live in a rural area/small town or have special needs and can’t find a solution online, call UPS (1-800-PICK-UPS) or FedEx (1-800-GoFedEx) to learn about how they can help you. Even if you can’t reroute a package to a store, you may have the option of rerouting it to another address or setting up a delivery appointment.
There are many complications and frustrations in our lives with diabetes. Hopefully you can use options provided by UPS and FedEx to at least make receiving your medical supplies a little bit easier.