Barbelith has had a long-term troll. I say long-term, when I mean seven years or so of aggravation. This aggravation has included sending things to my home address, determined through registration logs for my domain names. It has also included demands for me to confirm my home address on the pretext that he’d like to send me legal correspondence. As I’m sure people can imagine, I’m not enormously comfortable about this.
So I started looking into UK Post Office boxes. I thought these might be an answer – an address that I can use for correspondence that’s just a little more secure. But the more I’ve looked into them, the more stupid they are. And now I’m really looking for an alternative that makes more sense. If any of you have any ideas, I’d really appreciate hearing them.
Here’s the first problem with them – the cost. They’re not exhorbitant by any means – if you want them to redirect the post to your home, they only cost about ¬£110 a year. But if you cancel them at any time you get no reimbursement whatsoever. And this get even more annoying when you consider that when you move you can’t necessarily take them with you. I had this sense of PO Boxes as being kind of like e-mail aliases or something but it turns out they’re just physical boxes in particular Post Offices. If you move to an area covered by another Post Office, you have to give them a month’s notice to cancel your current Post Office, then set up another one in your new area. I can’t imagine how aggravating that must be for some businesses. I really would have thought that they’d be able to manage the idea of a unique UK address, which could be set up to redirect to a number of different places over time. But no. If you move, you lose the address. Stupid.
But worst of all is that you actually have almost no privacy protections at all either! Although you can give people your PO Box rather than your home address, they’ll give out your home address to all and sundry unless you can get written confirmation that you’re ‘at risk’ from the police or the military or something. For my purposes, then, this service is just about totally useless. Extraordinarily useless, in fact. To rely on the idea that someone just wouldn’t think to ask is extraordinary. And it’s got to be one reason that people consider taking up PO Boxes – because they don’t want their home address to be visible to everyone. Obviously, the police should be able to request this information at any time. Perhaps you even give powers to the courts or to select agencies, but to anyone!? It’s bizarre!
I’m now looking for alternatives – can anyone think of one? It’s not for large amounts of mail – just for those odds and ends of things where you have to put your address out in public where lunatics can get hold of it. That means that it’s not really practical to have to go and pick up mail from it – because there wouldn’t be any for months at a time, but if there was some (a cease and desist or something) you’d need to know about it quickly. You’ll have to e-mail me, because unfortunately, the comment spam got too much for me to deal with again… tom at the name of this website, as normal…