TWO GRADUATES from the University of Manchester have set up a courier service online which allows people to send parcels- without actually disclosing addresses or visiting a post office.

The system works via social networking site Twitter, or through a standard email account.

The recipient is asked through the website for their address and if they want to accept a parcel. If they say yes, address details are taken by both the secure website and the courier. The sender then receives a barcode and the address is attached to the parcel only after it is collected from the sender’s home. The service only operates nationally at the moment, and senders and receivers also have to be registered with the website, called ‘SendSocial.com’.

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Antony Stevenson, 24, from Derby and James Cranwell-Ward, 24, from London, studied at the University of Manchester, both graduating in 2007 with a BSc in Computing Science and helped develop the programming behind the idea.

The world’s first ‘address-less’ delivery system was the brainchild of Ben Ward, one of the entrepreneurs featured in Channel 4’s popular reality series about philanthropic businessmen, titled The Secret Millionaire. Cranwell-Ward said: “The concept was on Ben’s blog first, he then picked eight entrepreneurs to work on it, including me and Antony.”

This system of having to accept an online request prior to receiving post alleviates privacy worries and could prevent unwanted mail, allowing a person to screen what they receive.

Cranwell-Ward said: “It’s great because it means you don’t have to worry about the safety of your address and if you’ve lost track of people, but know them through Twitter then you can still give and receive mail.”

However, some students have questioned the usefulness of a website acting as a “middleman address book.”

Chris Milward, a postgraduate student from the University of Salford said the idea was: “Funny, [but] couldn’t I just email my friend with my address or message them on Twitter?”

Sarah Phillips, 21, a Film student from Manchester Metropolitan University, added: “I honestly don’t see the point. When you send gifts to people, you would know their address anyway. And it’s lazy! Or what if it was meant to be a surprise?”

However, the company’s Chief Executive, Glen Richardson, 27, commented: “Why take a parcel down to the local post office, sit in the queue and pay £5 when you can sit in front of your computer and have a courier turn up at your door the next day?”

The parcel service is cheaper than Royal Mail’s guideline prices: SendSocial.com charge £3.99 for parcels weighing up to 2kg whilst Royal Mail charge £4.41.

//published Student Direct December 2009

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