Parcel Motel – The original UK Virtual Address

Parcel Motel LogoParcel Motel is the virtual address I use by far the most often. I’ve received over 110 parcels and have never had any real issues. Looking at the thread on boards.ie you can see not everyone is as complimentary about their service as I am. In my experience, if a parcel is delivered to Parcel Motel in Northern Ireland by noon, it will be ready for collection at my Dublin Motel by 10.30PM on the same day. Combining Parcel Motel with Amazon Prime, I can get next day delivery to Dublin for €3.50 from Amazon. That ain’t bad at all.

As well as receiving Parcels with Parcel Motel you can send parcels to other Parcel Motel Users, Address in Ireland & the UK as well as returning items to retailers including Littlewoods, Collect+, My Hermes and Royal Mail. In this post I will just discuss the receiving side of Parcel Motel and will cover the sending side in future posts.

Signing Up

Signing up for Parcel Motel is straightforward enough. You will need to provide name, address and mobile number as well as some security questions. They will then send a text to the mobile number provided with a verification code which you must then enter. From start to finish it shouldn’t take more then a couple of minutes. When signing up you will need to chose a locker or ‘motel’ to collect from. It can be a bit hit and miss whether they have a locker near you. Living in Dublin, there are plenty near me but I’m not sure if that can be said if you live outside of Dublin.

Once signed up you are issued with a PM ID and the two addresses you can use. One in Northern Ireland and one in Finglas. Obviously, if you are looking to avail of free UK shipping, you should use the one in Northern Ireland. It is extremely important that all parcels have your name and your PMID on the address label as otherwise it will not be assigned to your account and delivered to your motel. The name and PMID must match – you cannot get a parcel sent to your brothers/friends/cats name using your PMID. You would either need to get them to set up their own PM account or use your name when ordering.

Parcel Motel Lockers

Using the service

The service costs €3.95 for one stay. A stay is one parcel in one locker for 48 hours. This means any parcel up to 41 x 38 x 64cm and weighing up to 10KG. If after 48 hours you do not collect the parcel, it will be removed from the motel and brought back to the depot to be reprocessed. You will then need to collect the parcel from the depot or request they send it out again for an additional €3.95.

The parcel will appear on your Parcel Motel account once it is received in their Dublin depot. Previously, if you used their Northern Irish address, it was scanned in when it was delivered in Newtownabbey, but they now do all processing in Dublin. If the parcel is delivered to Newtownabbey by around mid day, I normally expect to see it on my Parcel Motel account by 7PM. You will be able to see the time the parcel was checked into the Dublin depot, the size of the parcel, a photo of the parcel and a Nightline tracking number. How long it will take until it is ready for collection depends where your chosen locker is. If I am using my normal motel in Dublin, I would expect it to be ready the same day, while if I am using the motel in Gorey, Co Wexford I would expect it the next day.

When the parcel has been placed into the motel and is ready for collection you will receive an email and text message containing a 4 digit code. When you get to the ‘Motel’ select ‘Collect My Parcel’ and enter in your mobile number. You will then be prompted for the 4 digit code. Once this is verified, the locker should pop open revealing your parcel.

Paying for Parcel Motel Stays

There are two ways to pay for Parcel Motel stays – account balance or credit/debit card. Either they charge your card on file each time there is a parcel delivered for you or you can buy credit for your account paying by PayPal. Then every time there is a parcel delivered, the fee is deducted from your account balance.  If you top up by €35 or more you will get a €4.50 bonus. If you use Parcel Motel frequently you should top up by €35 at a time to maximise the bonus. This will in effective mean each stay will cost €3.50 saving you 12%.

Oversized Parcels

If a parcel is over 41 x 38 x 64cm and/or weighs over 10KG it will not be delivered to the motel. Instead you will need to collect it from your local depot. They charge for oversized parcels based on dimensional weight. If it is under 55KG the fee is €7, then for each additional 10KG over 55KG it costs €10. Dimensional Weight = Length × Width × Height in cm / 3000

If you do not wish to collect the oversized parcel you can have it delivered to your home/work address for an additional fee of €7.95 up to 55KG. So the total cost presuming the dimensional weight is below 55KG is €14.95 (€7 Parcel Motel fee + €7.95 Delivery Fee)

Potential Issues

There are two issues with using Parcel Motel that I’ve come across a few times. Namely, retailers splitting orders into multiple packages and retailers removing the PMID from the address. Large retailers such as Amazon have many warehouses across the UK that they use to dispatch items from. If you order several items in one order they may dispatch them separately – this means you will have to pay for multiple Parcel Motel stays. This doesn’t just happen with Amazon so it is worth keeping in mind.

Secondly, a lot of websites use an address verification system where they match the address to a database and update it to a standardise address. While this is great in theory, it means they will remove your PMID. Normally it will show the updated address and give you a chance to manually amend it to include the PMID again. Even if you have the address saved as it should be on eBay, some sellers will still remove the PMID.  Parcel Motel offer a ‘Shopper Tracker’ option where you can enter in parcel details of orders you are expecting. This can help them match parcels with no PMID. Otherwise, you will need to open a support ticket with them and ask them to manually check for it. This has only happened to me once, and PM found the item within 5 hours. Looking at boards.ie, it appears I was very lucky.

Advantages

  1. Lockers are 24/7. Can collect whenever you wish
  2. For me, it is the fastest service out there
  3. Can track the parcel once it is processed by Parcel Motel in Dublin
  4. If you top up by €35 it becomes €3.50 per parcel which is the joint cheapest with Address Pal
  5. Standard Insurance of €100 included, €250 included free if you use shopper tracker or you can pay for up to €1,500 coverage.

Disadvantages

  1. Lower weight limit (10KG) compared with 20KG for AddressPal and Parcel Wizard
  2. If the Motel does experience a fault, you can be left a couple of days for them to fix it
  3. At Christmas popular motels can get full causing delays

Parcel Motel is the service I use the most and I can’t see any reason to change it for now. I know this is personal preference but I much prefer being able to collect a parcel whenever I want instead of having to be in to receive it or collect it from a shop within their opening hours. Going through my history I see most of the time I collect the parcel at 1 or 2am. I have had no serious issues with the receiving side of Parcel Motel but it could be that I am just very lucky. There are reports of people receiving the wrong parcels, the lockers being empty and of parcels disappearing. I can’t say Parcel Motel is perfect, but for me, it is the best option out there.

 

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