Bill Morris in Building Operations on February 17, 2022
Its 778 units make Sadore Lane Gardens the largest co-op in Westchester County, and since its five buildings don’t have doormen, security is a major concern. So when hundreds of shareholders started experiencing glitches with their intercoms, the property manager got busy.
“When we started having intercom problems, we called our intercom company, Fleetwood Lock & Alarm,” recalls David Amster, the president of Prime Locations, which manages the co-op. “When they opened up the panel, they discovered a small black box. We didn’t know what was going on.”
The box was an Amazon Key for Business device, which enables authorized Amazon delivery personnel to enter buildings without using the intercom or a key. No one at Prime Locations or the co-op had authorized installation of the box. Then the plot thickened.
“Our super caught a guy in the act of installing one of the boxes at another co-op we manage, at 270 North Broadway in Yonkers,” Amster says. “The guy said he was a contractor with Amazon. We made a police report and removed the box. Then we contacted Amazon — and got no response.”
Only after Channel 12 News launched an investigation did Amazon respond to Amster’s request for copies of installation agreements for Sadore Lane Gardens and 270 N. Broadway. Christy Rutledge, a member of the Amazon Key for Business Customer Support team, wrote: “Our records indicate the service agreements and device installations for your properties were completed by Atlantic Intercoms, a local business and third-party vendor for Amazon Key for Business devices.” Copies of signed agreements were attached, for Sadore Lane Gardens, 270 N. Broadway and three other nearby co-ops. There was just one small problem.
“They were signed by people who have nothing to do with the co-ops or Prime Locations,” Amster says. “They were signed by somebody with no authority to sign such a contract. Apparently they were installing the boxes and claiming they’d been approved.”
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Upon learning this, Amazon announced that it had terminated its relationship with Atlantic Intercom (singular, not plural). Atlantic Intercom declined to comment for this article. In the Channel 12 report, Amazon stated: “All packages are delivered by Amazon drivers who go through comprehensive background checks.”
Amazon has since met with Amster and offered to reimburse the co-ops for the cost of Fleetwood Lock & Alarm’s services. Lawyers are now involved. As the story winds down, Amster’s main feeling is relief that a potential security breach did not lead to serious trouble.
“The idea behind the Amazon Key for Business is not bad,” Amster says. “There are a lot of packages coming in every day, and if the delivery people can enter a building without a key or buzzer, that speeds things up for Amazon. But at least ask permission. If they had asked for permission, some co-op boards might have allowed it and some might not. I’m glad we discovered this, and I’m relieved Amazon owned up to it. And I’m glad that nothing bad happened — to my knowledge.”
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