Why Post Office Boxes are a waste of time…

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…

13 replies on “Why Post Office Boxes are a waste of time…”

The UK has something similar to what we call in the United States, PMBs or Private Mail Boxes. In fact, I have one in the UK at a Mailboxes ETC. It definitely costs more than a PO BOX, but in my case, provided an address in the UK for me for mail. It may be worth checking out. Daniel

Give a try.
I can’t say I’ve used them myself, however I do know that they have been around for a long time, you may recognise the address yourself as it is a well known mail drop in Holborn, central London. I believe that they do keep your address confidential, and should be able to offer you what you require. I know a lot of groups have used them in the past, but if you do a google on the postcode you’ll see for yourself the type of people that use it.
Good luck

You need something like Mailboxes Etc.. I think there are plenty of places offering that sort of service, often to let home businesses have a more business-like address.
I haven’t used them for anything, I’ve just noticed their place in Cambridge. Presumably a search for them on the Yellow Pages would throw up any competitors too?

In the States, we have a company, Mail Boxes Etc., which offers almost exactly the service you need. They offer a number of services, including “private” mail addresses that function much like post office boxes. It appears that there are at least four London-area locations, so you might check with them to see if their services would be appropriate for your needs.

Have you thought about getting a mail box at a place like Mailboxes, Etc? They are all over the states and there are several in Dublin. You can rent a box, just like the post office, but it is (*I think*) a bit more private as it is a business deal between you and the post box company.
smiles, jen ;o)
who also lives at the PO…

An unqualified recommendation for the Mailboxes Etc in the Strand opposite Charing X station. Paula and I both have boxes there. They’re very friendly and professional and keep very good hours. Bonus: give them a credit-card number on file and they’ll sign for/pay the duty on any duty-owing parcels that you get delivered. No more getting those stupid ParcelForce cards telling you that you have to pay 3 quid in VAT owing or whatever before they’ll deliver your new Powerbook.

Ah, British Monomarks – that takes me back. When I used to keep up with the anarchist press, about two in every three publications I saw had a contact address looking like this:
I think they must have been pretty cheap, if only from the number of people who used them. I don’t know if they notify users when anything comes in, but I’m pretty sure you don’t have to actually go to the office – and I very much doubt that they’d give your address out to all and sundry.

actually i am looking for a company that keeps my mail but provides me with a physical address rather than a post box address.
most institutions such as banks and government departments won’t accept a postal address.
it’s a pain because i move around a lot. sometimes i am only in one place for a few weeks and i don’t even have time to memorise the post code.

If you’re not picky about using a foreign address with at least some mailers, what you want and more is available – just not in the UK yet.
Take a look at
one cool Post office Box . Why travel to check a p.o. box when you can check your postal mail entirely online, just like email? World’s most convenient P. O. Box. They’ll scan the contents and display them 24/7, or forward or shred.
Right now, the only addresses are in Oregon (which happens to be a tax-free state).
Good luck!

Hi, i came up against the same frustration as you with mailboxes. However, some of what you say relates to royal mail. As you say if you move houses you have to change post box. And your address will be given out when asked. However there are others where your address is not given out unless required by law and where you can have a permanent box that is not tied to your address. find the link for one below. if you used google you will find many more.
Hope this helps

I’ve found Mailboxes Etc really expensive and a pain to set up.
A much cheaper option I found was the following company, West one business services, I haven’t found anyone else as cheap as this company and you can do all the stuff you can with the others but you are set up ready to go as soon as you pay online.
They are reasonably flexible as well which is good and they met all the requirements for my post collection, even though I wanted to change the forwarding address they were fine. Overall a good experience, here their link:

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