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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Uber rolls out package return service so you don’t have to go to the post office

A view of the entrance sign at Uber headquarters in San Francisco, Aug. 8, 2018.   (David Tran/Dreamstime/TNS)
By Natallie Rocha The San Diego Union-Tribune

Uber is now offering a feature in its app that returns packages to the post office, so you don’t have to. Just like ordering food or a ride from the on-demand app, a courier will come to you to and pick up your return.

The technology company announced Wednesday it is rolling out its package return option in dozens of major metropolitan areas across the country this week.

Within the Uber or Uber Eats app, users can pay a flat fee of $5 for pickups of their prepaid (with a label or QR code) packages. For Uber One members — the app’s membership that provides discounts across its service platforms — it costs $3.

“We’re bringing something new to the Uber and Uber Eats apps — a way to save time and effort in getting packages shipped, said Wendy Lee, director of delivery product management in the announcement. “Whether you’re sending holiday gifts or just handling the growing pile of returns at home, you can request a courier to pick up pre-labeled packages for UPS, FedEx or your local post office, and we’ll take care of the rest.”

In 2020, Uber launched Uber Connect, a service that lets users send packages locally between family and friends. The latest package pickup feature builds on that function by allowing people to hand off up to five pre-paid and sealed parcels to a courier to bring to a local post office, UPS or FedEx.

The contents of the package should be valued at less than $100 and weigh less than 30 pounds, according to Uber’s shipping guidelines. Customers can track their package in the Uber app and the courier will send a visual confirmation or photo of the receipt once it’s dropped off.

The concept of returning packages through a courier isn’t new, but Uber’s added feature is priced competitively among traditional shipping options.

People can send pre-labeled packages with UPS drivers who are making deliveries to their home or office. UPS charges $8 to $13 for future-day and same-day pickup respectively. FedEx charges $4 for each return package pickup.

Uber’s expansion of service aligns with trends regarding consumer appetites for online shopping and toward making returns. A majority of shoppers — 79 percent under the age of 30 — think mail returns are somewhat or very annoying, according to a National Retail Federation survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers that was commissioned by PayPal.

“We’re continuing to invest in more delivery use cases for all consumers — from our research we know that returning or mailing items is an arduous process for consumers right now and something they are interested in using Uber to help them do,” a company spokesperson said in an email.

Uber has been broadening its offerings beyond the traditional ride-hailing and food delivery services it became known for. Last week, Uber announced a partnership with San Diego Yellow Cab company to allow taxi drivers to pick up ride requests through the Uber app.