Mailing from Mexicali or Calixeco
February 13, 2015 2:34 PM   Subscribe

So, I have a friend who lives in Mexicali, Mexico, and he's having a dickens of a time getting mail to actually be delivered to the US. What can he do to make that work better?

So, my friend lives in Mexicali, Mexico, which is a border town right across from Calixeco, CA.

For the past several years, he's tried to do things like mail christmas cards to friends in the US and they have simply never arrived.

He used to go to a post office in Calixeco and send mail from there but he was told more than once recently that he can't mail from a USPS location because his return address "isn't local", and he says the post office records both the receiving address and the sending address for mail and since he has a return address in Mexicali they can't send the mail.

Now, I go the USPS frequently to send mail of various sorts, and I watch what they do on the screen when they enter my mail, and they have never once typed in anything having to do with the return address. It's always about where the mail is going, never where the mail is coming from.

He sent out a round of christmas cards from Mexicali this year and none of the cards he sent to US addresses have arrived yet.

Is my friend doing something wrong with how he sends mail from Mexico to US addresses?

Is my friend being lied to by USPS workers? Are the USPS workers here being lax in their duties because I'm 100 miles from Canada instead of a border town from Mexico?

He's very concerned because he wants to be able to use the mail system as it was intended, but he seems to be unable to do so.

Any advice or help is truly welcome. This is becoming a very frustration situation, and paths toward solution are welcome.
posted by hippybear to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure he can get a P.O. Box in Calexico; giving him a US return address.
posted by tckma at 2:43 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Another thing he can do is address the envelope with the same return address and destination address, and stick it in any US mailbox with adequate US postage affixed. ("For more information, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to...")
posted by tckma at 2:52 PM on February 13, 2015

When I sent mail to my kiddo at summer camp, sometimes the timing was tight, so the return address was sometimes the step-parent's address to sort things out if it was refused. If it's an envelope, buy the stamps and drop them off in the blue box in town and see if it is more successful.

He can also raise his concern with quality control. Before he does that, could he send you a digital image of how he's preparing the mail? Is he using Mexican stamps???
posted by childofTethys at 2:57 PM on February 13, 2015

Response by poster: I assume that if he's sending mail from Mexicali, which is part of Mexico, he is using Mexican stamps, because he is putting the mail in the Mexican postal service for international delivery.
posted by hippybear at 3:00 PM on February 13, 2015

Yet a third option, if they won't let him rent a PO Box and if SASEs seem a bit like scamming (they're not; you've paid for postage), he can also apply for a box at a The UPS Store. That will give him a legitimate US return address.

Although it seems a bit clunky to say, I always say "a The UPS Store" because the chain is called "The UPS Store." Therefore, if I just say "the UPS Store," it sounds to me like I'm referring to the entire chain. But using two consecutive articles still sounds weird to me.
posted by tckma at 3:01 PM on February 13, 2015

I don't know if this will help in your friend's specific situation, but I never put a return address on things unless I care about them being returned if they can't be delivered. Christmas cards definitely don't make that list. So he could try just taking them over the border, adding US postage and mailing them in a mailbox with no return address at all.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:00 PM on February 13, 2015

I am from Tijuana. The Mexican postal service is notorious for delaying things or for not delivering anything at all. When my parents mail stuff to the US, they do it like this: for letters, they buy stamps at the US mail office and address them with the recipient only, then drop them off at the blue mailboxes; for packages, they use postage paid for in the USPS website and address them with the recipient and with the address of a family member who lives in San Diego. They don't expect things to be mailed to them, though - the mail simply doesn't arrive, or it will arrive months after. I myself just sent down a present for Christmas (with 2 day shipping! and tracking!) and it took a month to get there.
posted by cobain_angel at 6:46 PM on February 13, 2015

Another thing he can do is address the envelope with the same return address and destination address, and stick it in any US mailbox with adequate US postage affixed. ("For more information, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to...")

That's not what a self-addressed stamped envelope is. When you need to send an SASE you get an envelope, write your own address on it, affix postage, and then you put the SASE in ANOTHER STAMPED ENVELOPE addressed to the person or organization that requested the SASE. They use the SASE to send you the information or whatever, without having to spend money on an envelope or postage.

And to answer the question, your friend needs to give up on the Mexican postal service. It is likely cheaper to go to Calexico, buy US stamps, and drop the cards in a blue box with no return address than to pay for 'international' postage rates from Mexicali. IF it's not difficult to get across the border.

I think non-citizens are allowed to get US PO Boxes, they just have to have two forms of ID (one of which is a photo ID) like everyone else. If your friend is getting across the border he must have a passport, and a drivers licence as well. There are also a number of "mail centers" close to the border, I can't speak to the reliability of them or not though.

My friend's boyfriend grew up in Calexico and he still has family living in both Mexicali and Calexico. I'll ask if he's got any insight or personal experience and if any of those mail services should be avoided.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:15 AM on February 14, 2015

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