Collecting my mail from afar
May 17, 2020 1:28 PM   Subscribe

I have a PO box in the SF Bay Area. For pandemic-related reasons, I am going to be stuck outside the state for the foreseeable future. How can I get my mail? Snowflakes inside.

I don't anticipate needing to get my mail regularly, but there are currently a couple things in the mailbox that I would like to have. And it might be good to have the option in the future, depending on how long I'm away from home.

The obvious (to me) answer is to forward my mail, but I recently tried this with a separate work PO box and it's been a disaster. Mail lost, a few things confirmed as having been returned to sender. Possibly the USPS is overwhelmed with forwarding to displaced people.

None of my local friends or family are well-placed to collect the mail; it would be a massive inconvenience and I'm not comfortable imposing.

Since I won't need this very often, I thought TaskRabbit might be an option – offer to pay someone to collect the mail, put it all in a single box or big envelope, and send it to my current location. But are there any other possibilities or services I haven't thought of?

Bonus question: Are there any steps I should take to ensure that this person isn't stealing my mail, or at least deter them from doing so, either this time or in the future (since I guess they might have continued access to the PO box)?

Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
 
I would use my friendship network to increase the probability of finding someone honest and reliable. Ask the people you know if they can recommend someone reliable to do a small recurring task and offer to pay for their time + postage. If you add the specific post office, maybe someone within the MeFi community would be interested.
posted by metahawk at 1:35 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Just to add, there is a MeFi jobs board but it seems to be very sparse so I'm not sure if many people look at it.
posted by metahawk at 1:36 PM on May 17


As far as preventing theft, or at least knowing about it, you can sign up for USPS Informed Delivery. You’ll be emailed an image of (most) every piece of mail before you’re due to receive it.
posted by dianeF at 1:40 PM on May 17 [8 favorites]


Yeah forwarding won't get you the stuff that is in your box right now which means any solution is going to be hybrid. It's easily a thing you could put on MeFi Jobs which might get you on extra level of trust. If I'm reading this correctly, you have a mailbox that has a key and not a combo? Easiest way would be to provide a pre-paid express mail envelope addressed to you to the person picking up your mail.

Also you didn't mention but do you have Informed Delivery? This will give you a decent idea what is actually in your box, so you can direct people to pick up specific things and this should deter people messing with things (though honestly, if you're really afraid of mail theft, you probably should just get your mail forwarded -- I'm sorry for whatever issues you had but mail forwarding basically works unless you've got a really non-standard setup)
posted by jessamyn at 1:41 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Is there anyone who works at the office where the PO Box is? I have a box at private mail store (just a mom and pop shop, not USPS or UPS or any other big chain). I call every month to ask them to forward me my mail, meaning they take my mail out of my box and they it to mail it to me in a bigger envelope. They charge my credit card for the postage which is usually about 6 bucks. Best of luck sorting this out!
posted by sweetjane at 3:50 PM on May 17


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