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There comes a time when you have to change service providers for one reason or another. But changing virtual mailbox service providers is a little more difficult than changing your Electric or Gas Company. In the last few months I’ve just gone through this pain as I changed from Earth Class Mail to the Traveling Mailbox. The reason for my change was purely economic. Earth Class Mail has just emerged from bankruptcy with new owners and they have increased their pricing exponentially. Although they tell me I’m grandfathered into my current price plan, previous experience has shown that any new services or features I may like; I’ll have to change to the new more expensive price plan to gain access to them.
So I started my quest in looking for a new virtual mailbox service provider. As usual I started my research at the Google search page. One very good site I found which has an excellent article with some good comparisons is the websites Travel China Cheaper. The websites author “Josh” has done an excellent job reviewing six virtual mailbox companies and in putting a side to side comparison chart at the bottom of his article. In addition to this article I have a few more recommendations/considerations when looking for a new virtual mailbox service provider.
- Try to avoid PO boxes if at all possible. PO boxes are limited to receiving mail from the United States Postal Service only. No other carrier such as UPS or FedEx can deliver to them.
- When reviewing a virtual mailbox provider which has several addresses that you can choose from, ask which addresses are located at the processing center and choose one of these addresses. I found with Earth Class Mail, using one of their addresses not at a processing center can add up to two weeks for you to receive your mail. This is because mail received at a remote location is simply forwarded to a processing center only once or twice a week.
- Ask what the average turnaround is for open and scan requests.
- Make sure they shred your mail by default and not just simply recycle it. This is one of my biggest pet peeves with Earth Class Mail, I had to explicitly tell them through their interface to shred mail as their default was simply recycle.
- Make sure your new virtual mailbox provider scans your mail in color by default.
- Ask if your new virtual mailbox provider will make check deposits for you. This comes in very handy when traveling out of the country.
Once you found a new virtual mailbox provider and decide to change to them, then it’s time to slow down a little and follow the plan below:
- Complete USPS form 1589 and send it to your new virtual mailbox provider. This form gives your new virtual mailbox provider permission to receive your mail from the United States Postal Service.
- You will find that the United States Postal Service will not forward mail from one virtual mailbox provider to another. Therefore, you will need to contact everyone who sends mail to your virtual mailbox and change the address with them. I created a checklist of individuals and companies that I needed to change my mailing address with and I either called them all updated my information on their website. As I contacted each one I crossed them off my list. Contacting individuals and companies I found to be the most time-consuming in this whole exercise.
- Don’t close your old virtual mailbox yet! Wait at least two months before you call and close the account. This will enable you to still receive mail at the old virtual mailbox that went out before the sender was notified of your new address. Also, it will give you chance to notify senders you may have missed in step two above about your new address.
- Once you are satisfied you are receiving all your important mail to the new virtual mailbox then go ahead and close the old one. Note that your old mailbox provider is still required by law to receive and hold your mail for up to six months after closing your account. After this time, they may destroy your mail they are holding and return to sender any new mail received.