Although I live in Boulder, CO, I’m currently spending a few months with friends in Oakland, CA. So just before I left Boulder on Jan 6., I went to my local post office branch and submitted a form for a temporary change of address. That was the only option they mentioned at the post office, and it seemed like it made sense.
Nearly a month later, very very little of my mail has gotten forwarded so far. It’s starting to freak me out. Most of my clients pay me by check, and I haven’t been receiving most of the checks sent on outstanding invoices. I am running out of cash, and it’s really pissing me off. Plus, this is the month that 1099 tax forms get sent out.
I expected some delay in receiving my forwarded mail. The US Postal Service says to expect a delay of up to 10 days. A couple of days after I arrived in CA I did receive a confirmation of mail forwarding via snail mail from the USPS, so I didn’t worry. By Jan 15, I started receiving a few pieces of mail — some Netflix DVDs, some junk mail, and a couple of small checks. I figured the rest would be coming.
Today — Jan. 27, nearly two weeks later — I’m still receiving only a trickle of mail. Today I called my local post offices both here in Oakland and back in Boulder. The Boulder postal clerk confirmed the forwarding order, and explained the continued delay:
Get this: The USPS must generate and apply forwarding labels manually (!!!), which according to the clerk I spoke to can causes delays in delivery of up to a month!!! Nowhere — not at the post office, on the forwarding form, on their site, on their information line — was I informed of this. Yeah, I’m annoyed…
Allegedly I will soon be receiving a big bundle of accumulated forwarded mail “any day now.” We’ll see if that happens. Fingers crossed. In the meantime, I’m truly regretting my decision to file a temporary change of address. I wish I’d just worked something out with a reliable local friend to handle my mail for me.
Looking around on the USPS site, I see they offer a paid service called premium forwarding — which I’d never heard of, and which was not mentioned at the Boulder post office branch. It’s not cheap: $10 enrollment fee plus an $11.95 weekly reshipment fee. What do you get for this?
“Most mail is forwarded once a week via Priority MailÂ®; some mail is reshipped separately, but immediately upon arrival at the primary address.”
…In other words, all they’re guaranteeing is that most of your mail will get to you in a weekly bundle. For $12/week, plus a $10 enrollment. Nice scam.
Still, considering the alternative situation I’m now facing — i.e., not getting the vast majority of my mail, with no guarantee of when it will arrive, and meanwhile I’m running out of cash — maybe premium forwarding would have been a slightly less Kafkaesque option? Maybe I could switch to that now? No dice. The USPS FAQ on premium forwarding notes:
“Customers with an active Hold Mail or Change of Address on file for the same primary address that would be used for Premium Forwarding Service are not eligible to participate in PFS.”
So unless I want to cancel my temporary change of address and enroll in premium forwarding — and causing who knows what kind of further delays and chaos in the process, and hope that the PFS service does indeed work (which is suspect) — I think I need to just sit tight and hope my mail does arrive, manage my cash carefully, and temporarily dig into savings to pay billsÂ if needed.
All of which, as I’ve mentioned, really pisses me off.