Packstation is a service run by DHL Parcel Germany, a business unit of Deutsche Post's Mail division, in Germany and elsewhere (e.g. in Italy). It provides automated booths for self-service collection of parcels and oversize letters as well as self-service dispatch of parcels 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Packstation started as a pilot project in 2001 and was quickly expanded. There are 3,000 Packstation machines in Germany and 90 percent of the people living in Germany were within ten minutes of a DHL Packstation. Only ordinary parcels and letters delivered by Deutsche Post can be delivered to Packstations. Moreover, Deutsche Post allows its subsidiary DHL Express Germany to insert a limited number of express parcels. Packstations were originally manufactured by the Austrian company KEBA with newer stations developed by DHL Paket in conjunction with Polygon.
A major market for Packstation is the increasing number of single people, especially students and time-poor professionals, who purchase products online but are not normally at home at daytime to accept deliveries, or who do not have the time to deposit parcels at the post office during normal opening hours.  As of November 2017 there were over 8 milion registered Packstation customers in Germany according to Deutsche Post.
Using Packstations is free of charge both for private and business customers, however prior registration through the web portal Paket.de  is required for collection of parcels.
Each customer obtains a magnetic stripe card ("Goldcard") and PIN that can be used to identify the customer at Packstation machines and post offices. Previously, it was possible to use the Packstation by entering the customer number and the PIN. This was changed in 2011 in order to increase security as said by DHL, usage of the Goldcard is mandatory now. On 29 October 2012, a mandatory mTAN was introduced, this is transmitted solely in the SMS notification or can be retrieved from the DHL Paket App. Each mTAN is valid only for one opening procedure (which may entitle to open several booths if the recipient has received numerous shipments), hereby replacing the PIN.
Delivery and CollectionEdit
If a parcel or letter is addressed to a Packstation, it is delivered directly to the specified booth. If the destination is full, the parcel is diverted to the nearest booth with free compartments or to the nearest post office. It is also diverted to the post office if it is too large to fit into the compartments.
As soon as the parcel arrives at the Packstation, the customer is notified by SMS and email. They then have seven business days to collect the package. The customer logs in with their Goldcard and mTAN, and retrieves the parcel.
Customers without Packstation cardsEdit
Parcels addressed to a house number (instead of a customer number) are diverted to a Packstation if the recipient is not available to sign for the delivery. In those instances, the recipient receives a green card with a bar code and address of the Packstation. The recipient then goes to the Packstation at his convenience, holds the bar code under the scanner, and follows the simple instructions on the screen. The locker with the parcel then opens automatically and the recipient retrieves the parcel. Delivery in this manner does not require advance registration.
To send a parcel from a Packstation, the customer must first buy a package stamp at a post office, online or directly at a Packstation booth. Return labels from online shops may also be used.
The client scans the bar code on the package stamp after facultatively logging in using the Goldcard. After the parcel size is specified, a compartment opens where the parcel can be placed. The maximum size for parcels is 60 × 35 × 35 cm.
Packstation for businessesEdit
Since January 2004, DHL has offered in-house Packstations for large businesses (with more than 3000 employees). This service is especially attractive for businesses whose employees frequently receive private parcels at their work address. The Packstation can be a compromise solution that still allows employees to receive parcels without straining the company's resources. The first business to set up a Packstation in-house was SAP in Walldorf. Unlike public Packstations, the location of in-house Packstations is not published on the internet. BASF, Siemens, T-Mobile, and T-Online have also set up Packstations on their premises.
Packstation for techniciansEdit
Public Packstations are often used by businesses to deliver spare parts to service technicians working in the field, or on the way to the customer.
A few difficulties of using a PackstationEdit
Wheelchair users might have trouble using the Packstations, because some of the compartments are too high for wheelchair access.
The user of a Packstation must agree to give up their right to decline acceptance of a delivery, when registering for the service. A traditional parcel delivery to a home address or for collection at a post office can be rejected by the customer if visible damage has occurred to the packaging, or if it is an unwanted delivery. However, Packstation customers have the option of filing a complaint with the nearest post office.
The Austrian Postal Service introduced a virtually identical service called Post.24-Station in November 2006. The booths are manufactured by the same company that makes the Packstations, KEBA. In Vienna, Stations have been erected in supermarkets, petrol stations, and post offices that can easily be reached by public transport.
In Ireland, a 'ParcelMotel' service exists and is owned by the Nightline courier company. ParcelMotel has operated since 2012 and has 124 locations providing over 10,000 locker spaces throughout the Republic of Ireland. ParcelMotel also offers a UK address for parcel delivery which allows customers in the Republic of Ireland to take advantage of free UK delivery. They also offer free/business paid return services, motel-to-motel delivery at special rates and a parcel sending service.
A company called SmartPOST, run by the Finnish Posti Group runs a network of self-service parcel terminals in Finland and Estonia. The terminals are located in shopping centres and other public premises. They enable clients to send and receive parcels and pay for them at the collection point. There is a terminal for every Estonian in a range of a 15-minute drive. In Finland the parcel terminals were introduced in 2011, thus the network being quite small yet, but quickly growing. The parcel terminals and the software running the system are manufactured in Estonia by Cleveron.
Also Latvian company PostService runs a network of 39 self-service parcel terminals in Latvia, called Mana pasta stacija (My Post Station). Terminals are located in 27 largest cities and towns of Latvia. The terminals are constructed and manufactured in Latvia by PostService itself.
Polish company InPost Sp. z o.o. runs a network of over 2000 self-service parcel terminals in Poland called "Paczkomaty 24/7". Terminals are located in shopping centres car parks and gas stations. The terminals enable clients to send and receive parcels.
Canadian company BufferBox, which was acquired by Google in November 2012, operates a similar system in Ontario. However, the service has since been suspended, and a message on their homepage shows the company is focusing on Google Express Checkout.
Correos de Costa Rica offers a similar service with automated delivery machines located in various supermarkets. The test program started in July 2017. The machines are manufactured in Costa Rica. In the year 2018 the operation of the smartlocker system known as API was started. Built entirely by a postal company. The network has 23 locations in the metropolitan area of Costa Rica.
The myRENZbox offer a similar product in the form of a range of intelligent parcel delivery boxes, available throughout the UK and Europe. These parcel delivery boxes are manufactured by the company RENZ in Germany. They are typically located in configurations of multiple products outside of private accommodation residences, in shopping centres, in reception lobby areas and across other sectors requiring a place to store parcel deliveries. The myRENZbox is commonly used by couriers such as DPD, DHL, GLS, Hermes and La Poste.
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