Before you read too far, let me confess to you that I was in a very irritated frame of mind when I wrote this. After waiting two weeks for a word on the Nexus 7 I ordered from Google Wallet, I was notified yesterday that they cancelled my order because the address I gave them was a PO Box. Please note, I said cancelled. For those interested, here’s the link to the full story. Unlike the credit card issue I had with them, rather than give me an option to give them a physical address, they simply cancelled my order. They did tell me that I could reorder, putting me at the end of the queue, and please give them a physical address when I did.
This is not the first time I’ve had issues because of my PO box. There are a number of items that Amazon won’t ship to a PO box. Of course, they do tell me up front that I need to provide them with a physical address. I never did understand why, after telling me that they could not deliver to a PO Box, I would have to go down to the Post Office to retrieve my package because they shipped it parcel post.
Why all the hate for PO Boxes? I live in a very rural area. My mailbox, when it hasn’t been run over by a careless driver, is in a shared area about 0.15 miles from my house. The shared area means that my mailbox is open season for any of my neighbors or anyone walking along the road. I have good neighbors and this usually is not an issue but I have had problems in the past. At least once a month I come home to find my mailbox wide open and my mail scattered down the road.
I understand why companies want a physical address for me. I understand why FedEx and UPS can’t deliver to a PO Box. I even understand the advantages of using a single shipper for all deliveries. I also understand the risks I take every time a credit card offer goes missing from my mailbox. Thanks to the Statistics course I’m taking at Udacity, I can see a direct correlation between having something delivered to my physical address and subsequently getting credit card offers at that address (actually I knew that before the course but had to throw the plug for Udacity in anyway).
With the PO box I know where my mail will be. I know it will be dry and I don’t have wonder what might be missing. The only reason I have a mailbox at my location is because most rebate providers don’t accept PO Boxes either. Although given the ratio of rebates I actually receive versus the cost of a new mailbox every year it might be a wash.
Whenever I start dealing with someone new, they want my physical address. I give it to them, explain the situation to them and then give them my PO Box as the mailing location. Invariably mail starts arriving in my mailbox. If I’m lucky it only takes me a couple of months to get the mail routed to the PO Box. There’s been a few companies that I just cancelled my relationship with them because they don’t get it. I still get mail from T-Mobile.
Recently the Post Office started a service where they give me a physical address based on the location of the Post Office and deliver the mail to my PO Box. It makes sense, all the little parcel express places have been doing this for years. I’m not sure why this is more palatable to all the people that don’t want to send a rebate check to a PO Box but I’m really considering this service.
Update 6/9/2014: I revisited this topic with Why All the Hate For PO Boxes, Part Two
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