logistics: package forwarding

I generally prefer to receive packages by Amazon locker or General Delivery since there is no extra cost associated with those. Sometimes, as happened recently, there is something that is was or must be delivered to my mailing address and sent on to me – drivers license and registration sticker for example. To minimize cost I try to bundle items together. The package underway to me now contains:

  • the paper $600 stimulus check. Since my e-filed taxes were accepted by the IRS yesterday with the new direct deposit info, hopefully this is the last one that needs to be snailmailed.
  • the replacement gearset for the busted snorkel lift mechanism for the fancy Maxxfan 0007000k (my fault, I manhandled it). Cheapest supplier but they would only mail to billing address, which was my forwarder
  • migraine meds from the VA - only rarely needed once I retired. Funny, that.

Once I knew the paper check would have to be remailed I refilled the meds and ordered the fan parts. If the check was a $1.60 VA refund (which has happened) it would be cheaper to shred it than reship it to me.

how it’s done

I can’t remember if I’ve described how my forwarder works so I’ll lay it out for anyone who might be curious.

My mail forward is a printing/mail shop in El Paso. They use iPostal1 as their back end for mail forwarding services. The basic cost is $99/yr plus piecemeal services like physical forwarding, scanning, shredding, etc. Simple disposal (as with junk mail) is free. A mail-specific power of attorney is required so they can receive, resend, and open your mail if requested.

This is a partial view of what the mailbox looks like in the browser:

When you select a piece of mail from the list a picture of it is shown in the bottom left (cropped here to remove my mailing info). If you hover over that pic you get a zoomed view as in bottom center. That way you can “inspect” the mail to see who it was mailed from, etc., in order to make a handling decision. Very useful.

This particular piece would be opened and scanned into PDF so I could see it online – I didn’t know what it was. It was a waste of money in this case as it was VA-generated “mystery mail”, similar to the low-value
“this is not a bill” letters you see from health insurance companies. If it has no bearing on me why send it?

Obvious junk mail is marked “discard”. Tax forms and other privacy-sensitive stuff was marked “scan then shred” at something like $1.50 per page. I do my best to get companies and other entities to put me on “email only” and everyone but the VA has done a good job of honoring that request.

You can also select one or more pieces of mail to be bundled and reshipped to wherever you are; in practice this typically means GENERAL DELIVERY at the local USPS. In this case it cost $21.25 in postage and labor to send it to me in Arizona.

When it’s delivered you go to that USPS location. When it’s your turn at the counter you tell them you have a general delivery package and show your ID. They find it and hand it over. Easy peasy, typically faster than buying a pack of stamps. In some locations where GD is heavily used (Quartzsite) they may have special hours or a special place at the counter to pick up GD. I think that’s fair.