Tricking UPS and FedEx

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I’ve been getting a kick out of telling people who would like to ship something to me in Tok that “we don’t have numbers on our houses in these parts” and that they just have to suck it up and use our PO Box.

“They tell me UPS and FedEx actually will deliver to the post office unless they know where someone lives,” I tell them. They moan and groan about the use of a PO Box because I’m sure the computers at UPS and FedEx will go haywire if they read a PO Box instead of a street address.

So I was at the Tok post office the other day and asked what I should do for folks in other parts who cannot fathom a place without actual building numbers and street addresses.

They confirmed a little trick I had heard from some Tokites:

Use your PO Box number as your house number.
Use your street name.
Then add your PO Box to the zip code proceeded by a dash zero.

So if your PO Box number is 123 and you live .6 miles on West Willow (which is the other way you can give an address – the distance from the main road down to your place), here is what you tell people:

123 West Willow
Tok, AK 99708-0123

Voila! You’ve given folks Outside the traditional address they insist they need and have “tricked” UPS and FedEx computers. Then you just get your packages from the Tok post office.

Unless, of course, the UPS guy knows where you live.

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  1. Aimee

     /  February 3, 2009

    I use to live in the bush in a little community of 100 people on the Kuskokwim River, so I understand the whole no street address problem. The village I lived in had no streets, just some dirt paths for 4-wheelers or snow machines so I would just make up a variety of street address for anything that would not accept a PO Box. The village was so small that we didn’t even have PO Box numbers, so for sending things through the mail we would just use PO Box and the first 3 letters of the village.

  2. Sneaky….sneaky….I love it!

  3. Maggie

     /  February 4, 2009

    Yep, this is how it works.
    Now all we have to do is find a way that they don’t charge us “Overseas” , or 2 day air and it still takes a week.
    The priveleges of living in rurl Alaska…smaile

  4. At my dad’s homestead near McCarthy there is a fifty gallon drum that serves as a mail drop-off so that if anyone is headed towards civilization they can take the mail with them.

  5. Chloe

     /  February 9, 2009

    I love hearing about you living out in Tok! has a story that says: “Thousands of villagers in rural Alaska are struggling to survive, forced to choose between keeping their families warm and keeping their stomachs full, residents say.” Is this a lot of people or are they just focusing on a few people up there? I get the feeling they’re picking out a handful people (these were from Nunam Iqua) and sensationalizing it, but I was wondering if things are really that bad?

  6. Dawn Marie Holling

     /  February 10, 2009

    I so wish someone had told me about this when I lived in Tok. I’m an avid internet shopper and had nothing but grief from retailers not wanting to ship to a PO Box. What a great way to get the message out ~~ Cudo’s!!!!

  7. Amy

     /  February 11, 2009

    Genius. I never would of thought to ask the post office about UPS or FedEx. Thanks for the great tip for all of the people who live way out there.

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