So, when you live overseas (and to be clear “choosing” to live overseas is like “choosing” to either have a root canal or loos your teeth) with the military you are issued an APO box, so that you can still access the United States Postal Service. It is sort of a thank you for the kick in the ass of dealing with the multitude of ways your life is going to be fucked with by the military while you live over seas. Some of these are made up for by experiencing another culture, but being able to send and receive mail without hassle is a nice touch.
Or, at least that is the basic concept.
But that isn’t really how it goes.
I am not talking about the “hassle” of filling out a customs form every time you mail something, because that is no big deal. We bring them home in stacks and have them on hand. We fill them out before we get to the post office, and it isn’t too much of an extra step. We have to plan it out, and it costs me spoons sometimes, but we have adjusted. It is a part of our life.
But there are so many places that won’t deliver or work with APOs that it is just a big pain in the ass. Mostly this is from companies that have contracts with UPS and FedEx, and they don’t want to work with the USPS to accommodate us. I find this upsetting that they don’t want to take the extra step to work with the men and women in the military (it upsets me more that the people in the MidEast are being denied services, really). I also read about things like Walmart charging extra for shipping to FPO/APO boxes because it costs them extra in transportation costs, which is a lie, because our mail is sent though the USPS, just like all other mail. They just have to fill out the forms.
Most recently the biggest aggravation came when I tried to make a holiday purchase from Apple, and because of their signature policy they don’t deliver to APOs (even though there are people on staff who do this very thing, and who are logged and accountable for insurance purposes). The wanted me to use their “gift services”, which is one of a new trend of companies who offer services to APO/FPO box holders. Yes, for a fee you can get a State-side address, and have your mail re-routed to them, and they will re-send it to you…all for an additional cost.
This completely misses the point of the APO box. To allow us to use the US postal service like normal.
Like I said, this somehow presumes that I am to be penalized for being a pain in the ass and have a special address that requires special accommodations and forms and now I want to be able to get my mail and things I order all at the normal time and not have to pay extra!
Cuz, you know, I chose this inconvenience.
The next time I see a company that says or sells something that says it “supports our troops” and then won’t ship to an APO you had better believe that you will read about it here.
And yes, I am so grateful to those of you who offered to intercept and re-route gifts for us, or who helped us get stuff where it needed to be. Your kindness is beside the point, and much much appreciated. You have been the truest of good friends. Thank you.
But the point still stands.
Having an APO isn’t a choice we made. We shouldn’t be penalized for it. Working with us and not forcing us to spend extra dollars is not too much to ask. It certainly isn’t in keeping with the spirit of the intention of the APO box.