Mail without a place
July 9, 2013 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Some folks I know have found themselves in San Francisco without a place to stay, but I need to send them some stuff. Does anyone know which Post Office(s) in SF proper accept mail for general delivery?
posted by wierdo to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Looks like the post office on Pine Street (at Larkin, no idea if the link will actually work...) accepts general delivery.
posted by rtha at 12:28 PM on July 9, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks! I don't know how I never noticed that it's listed on the website.
posted by wierdo at 1:37 PM on July 9, 2013

Best answer: Pine Street may not work. I did this exact thing, and it was not easy. I mailed myself for general delivery from the East Coast with intent to pick boxes up myself once I moved to SF, back in 2008. As background, I did this sort of thing several times before outside of SF.

The Pine Street location, as of 2008 just as now, was listed online at as accepting general delivery. I called that office directly to confirm. I sent two boxes. BUT, it turned out they did not. Call that office directly to confirm, but try speaking to postmaster or someone senior. After taking receipt of my boxes, they forwarded them to the Hyde Street location. They initially couldn't even tell me where they had forwarded the boxes to.

That office is 101 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. Phone number per Google is (415) 563-7284. It's in Tenderloin, and general delivery window involved long lines where I witnessed a fight (yes, inside the post office).

The caveat is this was all 5 years ago, so best to check and call to confirm.

The difficulty for me was that (1) USPS mis-identified its general delivery location, (2) I asked over a dozen SF USPS employees about where general delivery is taken and got blank stares or wrong answers (e.g. we don't do that in SF, or you have to go to SFO location, etc.), and (3) in the routing from Pine St to Hyde St, one box got lost. I'm generally a fan of USPS, but this was a bureaucratic nightmare. It took two months before my lost box was "found" somewhere in the system. It looked like it had been hit by a land mine when I finally took delivery.

I hope this saves you and your friends from a bit of pain. I might also suggest you look into UPS or an alternative, but I would guess general delivery works perfectly 9 times out of 10.
posted by ccl6yl at 2:15 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can also send FedEx (ground if you wish) and have them hold the package(s) at a FedEx Store. I'm not sure how long they'll hold them for you, but it should be at least a couple days. You can also do this with UPS, but I believe it will get taken to the UPS depot, which is kind of a pain, unless you jump through extra hoops and pay special fees. With FedEx, you'll need to put in some kind of delivery address (maybe just the FedEx Office address itself works?), but you can then specify "Hold at FedEx location" right on the online waybill.

This route may cause your recipients less grief than dealing with the Tenderloin's general delivery office (assuming other post offices are unavailable), which is mostly used by the homeless and has all the downsides ccl6yl mentions.
posted by zachlipton at 2:44 PM on July 9, 2013

Greyhound Bus does freight. Great way to ship bulky things. Whenever I have moved across country, my books take the bus; I just have to meet them at the bus station.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:36 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

The FedEx service is called "Hold at FedEx Location" and you can have them held at FedEx Office (AKA Kinko's). That might be a better option, as FedEx is a little more organized than USPS.

AFAIK, this is easy to do if you are sending the package yourself from a FedEx location. If it's something you're ordering online and sending to the person, it's a little trickier. Some large stores offer this during checkout because they built it into their online store, but most smaller shops don't have the capability built in.
posted by radioamy at 7:55 PM on July 9, 2013


I sent a bunch of stuff that way. Most stolen, the rest broken. Fillling out claim for the stolen stuff was a nightmare. That was years ago, but if Greyhound's gotten BETTER in any way at anything, I sure haven't heard about it.
posted by Quisp Lover at 1:07 PM on July 11, 2013

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