How do I get someone to send me letters from the South Pacific?
February 26, 2015 2:10 PM   Subscribe

I am working on an Alternate Reality Game that I am using for teaching MBA students. The game starts with a character cracking under pressure and taking a sudden trip somewhere "exotic" (to a North American) - like the South Pacific or Nepal. As part of the game, I would like to send students a letter postmarked from the exotic local from the character. How do I make this happen?

The contents would be a computer-printed letter, and I would be able to supply the US-based addresses of the recipients. Ideally, I would send the Word document and the addresses and someone would take care of the rest.

Initially, this would only involve about 10 letters, but I might need as many as 90 letters sent in the fall. I am willing to pay for this, but not sure who to ask or how to make this happen.
posted by blahblahblah to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
MeFi Jobs, for starters? Might be MeFites thar.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:14 PM on February 26, 2015

You can write them yourself and send them, stamped and addressed, to a postmaster in a big manilla envelope in whatever locale you're interested in. They'll postmark them and send them from their post office.

That's how I do valentines, I send them to the postmaster in Loveland, Colorado.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:15 PM on February 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

^ If you did that, you'd have to have the necessary stamps ahead of time or include cash or a money order to pay for them and an explanation in the local language. And well, snail mail from exotic destinations gets lost/delayed. A lot. Also, it's expensive. It costs $1 to mail an international postcard where I am.

So can these locations be fictional? Then you get into the realm of mail art and people create realistic looking postage stamps and manage to post letters within the US. (I can't remember exactly what methods they use)
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:52 PM on February 26, 2015

If you are willing to use somewhere less exotic, like Australia, I'd be willing to do it. (The postage for that many international letters would be fairly expensive, though, so I would need to get reimbursed.)

Or if it's exotic enough, you could use American Samoa, or Hawai'i, and then I think you can just use USD and US stamps, and do what Ruthless Bunny suggests.
posted by lollusc at 4:09 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can do Guam or American Samoa, since they're US Territories.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:47 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Could you just make your own postmark? For the cost of mailing 90 letters back & forth you could easily get a rubber stamp made, or print out the whole envelope on the computer. They wouldn't get the joy of it delivered to their mailbox I guess unless you were willing to drop them off yourself.
posted by wwax at 5:07 PM on February 26, 2015

Pago Pago is about as exotic-sounding location as you will find. It's in a South Pacific US territory. You might even be able to find a mefite who lives in the 96799. Good luck.
posted by Slap Factory at 5:29 PM on February 26, 2015

Ruthless Bunny, are there rules somewhere about what you can and can't send this way? It seems like it would be a liability for the post office and open a six pack of worms re: anonymous creepers and restricted items...
posted by yeahlikethat at 8:38 AM on February 27, 2015

I would try
posted by Jacqueline at 12:04 PM on February 27, 2015

I've had some past experience running ARGs and have been faced with similar, mail-based situations. My solution: fake it. Create yourself an envelope front in Photoshop, print it (or get custom rubber stamps), crumple and dirty up the envelope a bit, stick your letter in—and don't mail it. Instead, find another way of getting it delivered to the student. If it has to be delivered by the mailman for some reason, send the envelope enclosed in another envelope (something like this, maybe?) and create an in-game reason for it getting delivered like that.
posted by redct at 4:08 PM on February 27, 2015

I would think a print/copy shop in many locations could help you out. Somewhere where English is common would be easy. Sri Lanka, for example, because I'm there right now, would be easy. Find a small print shop and call to ask! International postage is 20¢ or so for a postcard, maybe a little more for a letter. I'd think you could arrange this for much less than $1 per in bulk.

Nepal would also be relatively easy.
posted by ssg at 1:02 AM on February 28, 2015

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