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March 30, 2013 / paulio10

Shipping to an Unknown Address

There should be a way to send somebody something, where they don’t have to tell you what their address is.
It may be none of your business – the delivery company needs to know where the package is going, but the sender shouldn’t have to know that.

For example – I just finished reading a book, so I register it on web site, which is a book sharing site. It’s pretty cool. I click “who’s wishing for this book?”, and it shows me 3 other BookCrossing members who have indicated they’re looking for that book! I would love to mail it to one of them so they can enjoy it as I did. So I click on the person’s link, and it displays their part of the web site: what books they have registered, and so forth – but there’s no way to learn the person’s mailing address. Which makes sense in today’s society, because that person doesn’t know who they can trust. They don’t want to share their mailing address with absolutely everyone on the entire web site. In the future, things like that won’t be a problem. But for now, while people still harm other people in our society, while people still have emotional and mental problems and damage, a lot of people prefer to remain anonymous to everyone except their known family and friends.

You can look at it the other way as well: shouldn’t you be able to receive an item that other people are willing to send you, without having to give them your mailing address? Shouldn’t you be able to generate a 1-shot shipping/tracking number that the shipping company has linked to your postal address inside their database system? Then you can give that 1-shot ID number to the person doing the shipping. Once the item is dropped off at (or picked up by) the shipping company, they scan the bar-code and discover it’s secret destination – and the package is on it’s way.

And, you should be able to pay for the package from either end – either the sender or receiver should be able to pay for it, so long as payment is completed at the time the package is handed to the shipping company. In fact, it would not be hard to invent a split payment: both sides pay an equal amount to perform the shipment. If it costs $12.50 to deliver the package, the receiver can pay $6.25 when generating the unique ID number and attaching their shipping address. Then they send that number to the other person to attach to the package. The other person must pay the remaining $6.25 when they hand it off to the shipping company, so payment is complete.

It’s just a different idea of how shipping packages can work in our world. It would not be too hard to implement this idea, and train people about the new way this shipping system works. It would certainly be useful to me right now, with this book I want to send to somebody I’ve never met, to fulfill a need out there in the world. But I can’t do that, today.


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