Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Going "Postal" while RV traveling

Dear R.V. Shrink:
My wife and I have been living in our RV for almost two years. We love the lifestyle, adventure, and the fact that we never have to mow the lawn or paint the house. Everything has fallen into place as far as setting up communications, knowing how to find the types of camping facilities we enjoy, managing finances and maintaining our rig.

One problem we didn’t anticipate, that drives my wife nutso, is the inadequate United States Postal Circus. We gave up on trying to work with them on mail forwarding. We have a friend that collects our mail and deposits all of it into a Priority envelope whenever we call and give her a mailing address. We always pick a small rural post office in an area we will be spending some time. Without exaggeration, our Priority traceable package travels more than we do and often does not show up for a couple weeks. I tell my wife we are not on a schedule any longer and we should just plan on the worst case scenario when dealing with the post office. She gets so upset when 2-3 days turns into 2-3 weeks that I’m afraid it is going to cause her health problems. She also runs a small business on the road that relies on the Postal Service. I have put as much as I can online and hope the rest will soon be. Do you have any words of wisdom for her? Anything will help.
--Out of luck and mail in Lubbock

Dear Lubbock:
I am probably not the best person to be dishing out advice on this matter. I have been known to go “Postal” a few times myself over mail service issues. I am picturing your wife looking as wild-eyed as myself, the day 35 bags of my newspaper mailing came up missing several years ago. I called the head of second class postage in the state of Michigan and was told, “We don’t guarantee delivery.” You cannot deal with, or argue with, a monopoly and win. Give it up. Here are the things I suggest your wife spends her energy on other than venting.

1. Put additional effort into moving information from hard copy to digital delivery. 2. If you have lost something valuable, there are two large postal dead mail centers. One is in Georgia, the other is in Minnesota. You can go there and bid on bins of lost mail. You get whatever is in the bin you buy. Maybe you will get lucky and find your own stuff. 3. Use Tyvek envelopes. As much as 10% of mail is damaged by aggressive postal sorting machines. If you do not want your mail to end up in a postal body bag, use strong packaging material. 4. Although more expensive, vote with your dollars. Use a competitor such as FedEx or UPS.

I don’t know what your wife’s on the road business is, but here is an example of one that relies on USPS. Many RVer’s make extra money buying used books and selling them on Amazon. They find the Postal Service’s media mail very slow, but convenient as they can drop books in the mail wherever they travel. Those that are never delivered just have to be considered part of doing business with the USPS and refund those orders. The problem is Amazon has a rating system. If your customer does not receive the book that was ordered and paid for, they do not blame the Postal Service, they blame the seller and issue poor feedback. Mail delivery has become a “lost art,” literally.

Whatever you do, never, and I mean never, let them see you sweat.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink


12 comments:

Ron said...

I've never lost mail yet... that I put a scannable "Delivery Confirmation" on....

Anonymous said...

For years I used a UPS box for a mailing address and it worked great. Just call the office with my account and have them forward my mail to where-ever I happened to be.

Anonymous said...

The solution is likely to involve moving to a commercial mail processing service. They collect your mail and forward it wherever you request, using whatever shipping option you prefer. If you routinely experience 3 week Priority mail delivery, something is likely wrong with your process. Are you sure the friend sends things out right away? Do you track progress (USPS tracking will give details of misdirected mail if that happened). Do you confirm the appropriate General Delivery address to use with the Post Office you're targeting in advance? These steps can reduce stress a lot.

Anonymous said...

Postal service out of the Richmond,VA postal distribution center is terrible. They should all be fired, maybe even prosecuted. Example: receiving 3 weeks of the New Yorker all on the same day. 5 days to receive a first-class letter.

luvglass said...

Funny how everyone's experience is different. We use the Escapee mail service and have out mail send about once a month to where ever we are at by Priority Mail. In 6 years we have never had a delivery take over 4 days.

Anonymous said...

We use Escapees mail service and love it.

Sunny One said...

It's not just forwarding, either. I had a properly addressed absentee ballot take two weeks to get from Michigan to Florida, missed the election!

Anonymous said...

We full-timed for over 5 years and never had a problem receiving our mail. We use "St. Brendan's Isle" mail forwarding service out of Green Cove Springs, FL (by St. Augustine). What a great company. Found them by accident in an online search in 2003. Only charge about $11.00 @ month + the cost to ship your mail whenever you give them a forwarding address. We always pick a smaller "one post office" town...somewehere near to where we're going to be for about a week. They put it all in one package. We have them address it "Joe Smith (your name), General Delivery, Columbus,NM 11111" as an example. Never fails to get there in about 3 to 5 days. NEVER ask the actual USPS to forward your mail. Been there, tried that, about had a conniption fit (remember those? :) Also set your computer up so you can pay all your bills online. We do all banking online, make all reservations online, read the newspapers of our choice everyday online, etc.. We have a little printer to print out receipts, reservation confirmations, etc. when neccessary. Hardly have anything snail mailed anymore. Just a laptop, verizon modem (or use all the free WiFi available everywhere now), small printer, and you good to go.

Anonymous said...

When I go on vacation I notify USPS on their website to hold my mail till whatever date I expect to return, then deliver it on my return date. Works every time.

RV-Insight said...

We use Alternative Resources out of South Dakota! Great mail forwarding service. Always send Priority and never takes more than 3-4 days. As fulltimers, we needed an address and state for our driver's lic and registration. South Dakota loves RV'ers!

Anonymous said...

Had similar problems/stress the first two years we were on the road due to trying to deal with the Post Office on forwarding our mail. Finally wised up and now we use Alternative Resources out of SD for mail forwarding service. They are great! No more mailing headaches!

Anonymous said...

USPS is just terrible. No wonder it costs us tax payees billions a year to keep them hosing up sending and receiving letters and packages. They use a computer scanner to collect your info when filling out the form and if the computer fails to read a letter or number correct it guesses!!!!! No one at the PO checks any of this guesswork of course so no errors are caught!
You do not receive a confirmation at the address you sent from, only the bogus/incorrect one--somewhere?????