Today I canceled my Earth Class Mail account. When I signed up last year, my needs were simple. I just needed a place to see online who I am getting mail from. Most often I didn’t even need to open/scan the mail (which saved me $1.50 a pop). I could easily discern what mail needed what response just from knowing who sent it. As the weeks rolled on I was updating my address in more and places. Then I suddenly stopped to consider the cost to wean myself off of the service or to simply convert to another virtual post office (should a better company arise or Earth Class Mail decides to hike their rates). So what forwarding options do they provide to ex-customers? I searched their site and was shocked to read:
“If we receive mail for you after you’ve closed your account, US postal regulations require us to continue accepting it until six months after your closure date. Within the first two months, we hold onto this mail in case you decide to reopen your account. Once two months have passed, we’ll recycle any existing and incoming mail. At the end of the mandated six months, we’ll begin to refuse the new mail and return it to sender. As with all Commercial Mail Receiving Agencies (CMRAs), you will be unable to fill out a Change of Address form with the USPS when ending your service with us. Because of these policies and limitations, it’s important to directly contact anyone who’s sending mail to your Earth Class Mail address before you close it.”
Basically you can’t forward mail period, not through them, not through USPS. There’s no system in place to notify senders of your new address. Good luck remembering all the places you updated it.
They do a great job of making it sound like they are merely obeying US postal regulations. But these regulations were not designed with virtual postal mailboxes in mind, these companies didn’t exist until recently. So Earth Class Mail could devise their own forwarding solution to give customers like me peace of mind about furthering my dependence on their service. Alas this company and the industry as a whole are not at that stage yet. Virtual mailboxes are just a cool toy, not a real utility.
So I got out while the damage is still minimal. Thankfully I did not use my virtual address on any printed materials!