Is there a (postal) mail scanning service?
August 2, 2005 8:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a service where I can rent a personal mailbox, and when mail comes in, it is scanned and put somewhere where I can retrieve it electronically (or get the paper mail forwarded to me, wherever I happen to be at the time). I've been using these folks in Las Vegas for a while (they're great, BTW)... but they only do the store-and-forward thing, and I'm really looking for electronic delivery whenever possible.

I'm about to move from "somewhat nomadic, but generally in the US or Canada and able to receive a priority mail envelope" to "traveling for an extended period of time on islands with unreliable mail service", and I'd like to be able to maintain a US address, without spending a fortune on delivery fees.

I'm sure full-time yachters and RVers have dealt with this before, but I'm really tuned into that community. Anyone?
posted by toxic to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
if someone were to start such a service, what kind of turnaround would you expect? 24 hours? what kind of files? PDF, GIF, JPG, plain text (from OCR)? how much would you pay for such a service? how many letters/GBs would you expect to be able to store? What about the junk mail issue?

this actually sounds like it'd be a cool niche business for someone.
posted by fishfucker at 9:13 PM on August 2, 2005

During the .com boom there was a service that did this, but I think they closed. It looks like they're now redirecting to which seems to offer the same service (bill scanning and online payment.) I have no idea if this service is any good or not.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:51 PM on August 2, 2005

this actually sounds like it'd be a cool niche business for someone.

During the boom, some very savvy friends and I in Sydney actually got an offer of VC funding to start a business similar to this, for biz travellers and Big OE backpackers and such, based on an extensive business plan we put together and a few interesting meetings.

Never happened, for which I am eternally grateful. This was just before the boom went bust.

Which is not to say that it might not work now, done properly. Sorry, though, to try and be a bit more on-topic: I'm not aware of any services of that kind these days. There were a couple similar ones in America back then (2001), but I can't remember their names.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:37 AM on August 3, 2005

There is a whole industry devoted to document management. Typically you send them the documents, or they will come to you, and then they scan them, tag them and put them online for you. I am pretty sure many of these companies also scan incoming mail.
posted by caddis at 5:11 AM on August 3, 2005

Paytrust would sort of work, but they're really setup for handling bills. They want to put an ammount due and date due for every item that comes in, otherwise it's a "non-bill notice", and they toss out junk mail that comes to the address. I have all of my bills sent to them but my regular mail still comes to my house.
posted by cameldrv at 12:01 PM on August 3, 2005

The service you're looking for has finally arrived. Super cool. It's called Remote Control Mail and they let you see your postal envelopes online, then you can decide which pieces to shred (junk mail), forward-ship, or have opened and scanned. This seems to be the consumer/residential site. They also have a B2B service at the parent company, Document Command
posted by B36TC at 7:25 PM on March 13, 2006

There's apparently another service like Remote Control Mail, called Paperless PO Box. It operates on a flat $30/mo charge for 500 black and white scans, or $40/mo for full color. It's a bit older than Remote Control Mail.

I can't seem to find any references on Remote Control Mail's effective cost. They have this mysterious $30/hr "Document Prep" labor cost associated with the service. It's not clear how much time is spent per document, and under what conditions it's charged.
posted by maschnitz at 7:38 PM on March 17, 2006

Remote Control Mail's "Document Prep" charges for opening a simple envelope is pretty nominal, usually under 30 seconds, or $0.30. I think they have this on their price list because they also get large business documents like mortgages that can require more time to clean up (staples, paper clips, etc.) before scanning.

I looked into Paperless PO Box a year ago and they seemed to be out of business for several years already. Did a Google search and found a bunch of blog entries from really pissed off ex-customers.
posted by B36TC at 9:18 AM on April 8, 2006

Not that there's any chance of you reading this, but...

B36TC: can you give us some idea of the bill at RCM at the end of the day? Like, how much do you pay, how much mail do you receive, etc, etc?
posted by maschnitz at 10:35 PM on April 18, 2006

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