Almost two years ago I preordered a Google Nexus tablet, only to have the order cancelled two weeks later because I had used a PO Box as my address. Needless to say I wasn’t happy. Being very frustrated and having limited options, I wrote Google Wallet, PO Boxes and No Nexus 7, and followed up with Why All the Hate for PO Boxes?.
I still get a lot of views on that post. It’s unfortunate that very little has changed since that post. I still have to deal with restrictions on PO boxes. I still have to deal with people that don’t understand the difference. Despite my telling both Honda and my bank to use my PO box, they both managed to use my physical address. Actually my bank was slightly worse, they used my address for my checking and my PO Box for my savings. I had to go paperless to stop that.
I still don’t understand the hatred for PO boxes. True enough, I could have one in every state but I could do that with these mail shops too. There’s no question in my mind that my mail is safer being delivered to a PO box rather than the small box sitting on the road far out of sight from my house. Think of all the YouTube videos you see with someone dropping off a package and a stranger coming along to pick it up.
The first objection is almost always postal rates. You have to use the US Post Office to have mail delivered to a PO box. Or do you? Fed Ex seems to have come to some arrangement with the Post Office. Every once in a while they leave a package for me in the safekeeping of the Post Office. I find it somewhat ironic and very frustrating when I get told that I can’t use my PO Box, only to have pick up the package at the post office.
Amazon has both of my addresses on file and if my purchase is not eligible for Prime will usually allow me to select either address. The limitations seem to revolve around high tech gear and software. I’m sure there are other restrictions but it seems clear that where there are regional restrictions our government doesn’t consider PO Box addresses sufficient to limit location.
The frustrations involved with PO boxes doesn’t seem to be limited to the US. A lot of the views to this page come from Australia and Canada. I’m guessing that all of the resistance to PO Boxes is related to one of four issues; free postage agreements that are based on using the lowest fees, a poorly perceived notion that the security of the Post Office is worse simply tossing a package over an open fence, a question of which taxing authority should receive taxes for your purchase (money is always an issue) and the ease of avoiding regional restrictions by opening nearby PO Boxes.
Most of these objections would go away if the Post Office were to offer verification of PO Box owners. Yes, I know the Post Office already requires documentation on who you are and where you live but you can still have mail boxes in every state and you can still open and close one quickly.
Verification would confirm where you lived to the sender and be limited to one verified PO Box per person. This would give the Post Office an opportunity to increase revenue by providing verification and it would improve trust in PO boxes. It would probably increase the number of people using PO boxes.
Some people will always want to maintain the perceived anonymity of PO Boxes. Verification of PO Boxes would raise a hue and cry of privacy all over this country. In my case, our government already knows who I am and where I live. If verification makes more people comfortable sending mail to my PO Box, then I’m all for it. I also believe in anonymity, in fact I’m counting on all these people to pay for the change.
If you don’t want your PO Box verified, you pay an additional fee that would be used to fund verifications. These addition fees might even improve Post Office revenues.
We’re still faced with companies that would still refuse to treat verified PO Boxes any differently. I have a solution for that too. If the Post Office could start calling verified PO Boxes, VPOs, companies would be forced to review their policies and to revise their software. Since nothing changed for the PO Box system, no changes would be required. It still doesn’t make it easier for the major delivery companies to deliver to PO Boxes, they’re still going to throw boxes over my gate but it would completely eliminate the excuses companies use to not deliver your mail to a PO Box.
Personally, I believe this is a great idea. If you agree with me, send your Congressman a copy of this post. If enough people complain something might actually change. If you have a better idea, don’t be shy, please share it. I’m tired of replacing my mailbox every time we have a strong storm.Opinion by pen