Change PO Box Billing Address to Order an iPhone
If you live in a rural part of the United States, you might use a post-office box as your billing address, since it’s a more-secure destination for important letters such as bills, and it can be usually differentiated from a shipping address that you point at your home or office, depending on what’s most convenient.
But as TidBITS reader John Hinckley, who lives in a small town in Vermont, pointed out to me, those who do rely on a PO box may have trouble ordering an iPhone from Apple, because Apple won’t ship to PO boxes. The fact that you’re not shipping to such an address is irrelevant because, at least in the case of the iPhone, Apple reportedly picks up your AT&T billing address as the default shipping address. Presumably, the same applies to Verizon Wireless and Sprint customers in the United States; I imagine the situation may vary in other countries.
When John called the Apple Store to resolve the problem, the sales rep said she was unable to help, but she had spoken to a number of customers with the same problem. Luckily, he hit upon a workaround, which was to change his billing address on the AT&T Web site temporarily and then place his order for the iPhone 5. Once it arrives, he plans to change the AT&T billing address back to his PO box.
If you run into a similar problem, John’s workaround is worth a try. It might also be worth trying to order from your carrier directly to see if they will let you differentiate between billing and shipping addresses. I ended up ordering from AT&T, not because of any address snafus, but because AT&T was still promising that my iPhone 5 would arrive on 21 September 2012 when I placed my order early on the first day of pre-orders, whereas Apple was already saying I’d have to wait until some time in October.
OTOH, shipping to a private mailbox such as Mailboxes Etc. or UPS is no problem, provided "PO Box" does not appear in address. It's a crime (really!) to modify this for a USPS mailbox, but okay for private addresses.
I have used a PO Box for over 30 years, EXACTLY because it is a more secure delivery point than a roadside box. That a company will not deliver an important or costly item such as a piece of electronic gear like an iPhone to a PO Box makes me very untrusting of that company. I want my mail with PII (personally identifiable information) or my packages in the Post Office until I go and pick them up. I believe that to be a wise and secure choice.
USPS changed their rules several months ago to give you, at your written request, an address which is made to look like a regular street address with no mention of Post Office Box.
If you have a PO Box, you should have been notified of this several months ago. You can still do it. You can get the whole story here:
"Packages delivered by private carriers accepted with “street addressing”
The USPS will not only receive letter mail and packages sent through the postal service that are street addressed to the p.o. box, but it will also receive packages delivered by private carriers such as UPS and FedEx that are street addressed. Now you don’t have to plan your workday around package deliveries. The post office will receive them for you and put them in a secure lockbox if one is available. The key to the lockbox is placed in your p.o. box, so you can pick up the package at any time. Otherwise, you can pick it up at the service window during business hours, which may mean waiting in line (not an advantage)."
I switched and it works just fine!
That's great information - thanks. I do encourage people to read all the comments on that article, since it may not be entirely straightforward to sign up and use this service.