Know this before signing up for Earth Class Mail

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!

37 thoughts on “Know this before signing up for Earth Class Mail”

  1. Daniel,

    I am sorry that you didn’t feel your experience with us was great. We do strive for that with all of our customers. Please check the sites of our competitors, you will find that all of us are bound by this USPS regulation and no, we aren’t allowed to create our own forwarding plan that would circumvent the regulation. You are also right that the rule was created without the virtual mailers in mind, but until it changes we are bound by it.

    Best regards,

    Sarah

  2. I just forward mail to a relative and have them email me about anything important. Give them a little gas money or something. Much better solution. Why outsource your mail, unless you need a “prestigious address” for your business.

  3. Hi Daniel,

    Give Traveling Mailbox a shot. I have been using them for a few months now and I have been very pleased with their prices and support. I really feel like I am getting a good value for my money.

  4. I’ve looked into these virtual mail services. I am at my home in the US right now but spend most of my year living overseas as an expat. However the Earth Class Mail prices aren’t worth it considering how little important physical mail I get. And as far as specific things I request shipped I can just have them shipped to my office In the US and they will send it to my overseas address. Nonetheless I like the idea of having a service to scan the envelopes of mail I get in the US and having the ability to to scan any piece I decide. However the costs of that would have to be substantially less given how rare it is for me to get any snail mail I actually need – mind you I’ve moved all my bills over to electronic delivery.

  5. Totally agree that Earth Class Mail is the worst! Here is my experience:

    -I sent a Fed-X Monday, which was received by ECM Tuesdsay
    -They lost the package at first and did not notify me
    – When I called them, they eventually found the package I was told that I could not collect same day.
    – Then they said wait 24 hours to be updated in online mailbox
    – It was updated the following day at 1pm
    – Then I tried to pick up the mail and was told it was updated in the system after 12pm cutoff for same day pick up. WHAT!
    — Bottom Line… TOOK 3 DAYS TO BE ABLE TO PICK UP AN OVERNIGHT FEDEX PACKAGE.

    There are heaps better companies out there. Take my advice choose a company that will actually allow you to collect your mail when it arrives.

    It defeats the entire purpose of having a mailbox to send a package overnight and then be told you cant collect it for 3 DAYS!!

  6. Earth Class Mail is really shady. If you cancel and they continue to get mail, they hold it for six months. But you have to pay them to get it!

  7. Daniel, have you tried Virtual Post Mail? http://www.virtualpostmail.com/

    They have “smart address tags” that allow you to specify different addresses to different people/companies. For example, you can suffix a letter “T” to your mailbox number to instruct VPM to automatically send the mail to trash. Good for when you need to give our your address but know you won’t want to receive anything.

  8. Everett, yes, I should update this post. I am currently using VPM and am very pleased with the features and price. However, as I’m sure you have experienced, their web interface is painfully slow. But since I don’t check it everyday, I can brush this aside as a minor nuisance.

  9. Do you use VPM for bills etc.? The website says it is not recommended. I
    do not know why. Any idea?

    “We do NOT recommend or encourage the use of this for receiving real mail, especially bills, statements, or checks.”

  10. Mitch, I can’t say for sure but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was just something suggested by their legal department. Since their mail processing can be delayed by 3 business days (on average) it’s not ideal for extremely time sensitive documents. But I don’t really see bills as being in that category. And obviously they support receiving checks because they offer a check deposit service, which I have been using without problems for over a year. So really it just seems like legal protection in case there is a customer issue.

  11. That is a reading comprehension error. The “do NOT recommend… real mail” caveat is for those using the vanity city, “Los Angeles”, rather than the accurate city, “Walnut”.

  12. I’m using PostScan Mail https://www.postscanmail.com
    I’m pleased with their competitive rate and their nice “filters” feature which allows you to automatically move certain mail items you receive into folders or even request automated operations such as scan, shred, recycle or transfer based on customer criteria such as sender name or address.

  13. Joseph, good eye, thanks.

    Lemo, VirtualPostMail.com which I’m currently using, has these filters also. Good to know there’s competition in this space, better for us consumers.

  14. Daniel,
    Any major complaints thus far with VPM? What do you use it for the most?
    I’m moving to Europe and pay most of my bills online but I’m wondering about things like income tax docs.
    Thanks

  15. Kay, no complaints. I pay most bills online also. The important documents sitting in my VPM account at the moment are: property tax bills, checks from clients (and VPM deposited them), correspondence from my bank, letters from the IRS, and one physical credit card (new card, old one expired) which I can have mailed to anyone for safe keeping or leave it pending in the account until I return home and can receive mail again.

  16. I have been a customer of VPM for at least 2 years, and I have no complaints about the service at all, they’ve been really great.

  17. I, too, have been using VPM for about 8 months now and am very pleased. I also use the check deposit feature (where they deposit my checks) and I’ve never had a problem.

  18. I have been using Earth Class Mail for personal and business mail for the past few months and I am very happy with the cost and service. The assistance with issues is quick and helpful. However i realize my situation is different than most, where I live in Nyc and move often enough its simply a better solution than a typical UPS box to see the mail when it comes in. I dont have time issues, and they are close enough to me I simply schedule pickups once in a while to avoid the shipping fees.

    I highly recommend them, though we each have our own needs and some dont work for everyone.

  19. thanks for posting this. it’s helpful. not much decent and insightful blogging on this topic out there.

  20. Hi All, I have 2 businesses, work 1 full time job, have a part time and supplemental job and travel throughout the U.S. frequently for business and pleasure. There is no better feeling than knowing my business mail goes to earth class mail and my personal mail goes to either my Chicago, IL or my AZ address. This is a really effective set up for me, because I can easily check my mail from literally anywhere, airplane, ipad restaurants etc…I don’t miss time sensitive mail unless I know it needs to be delivered overnight and then I give my home address out instead of my business. At any rate I think Sarah has the right idea. It works for some and not for others. If I need my iphone, ipad or laptop to access it chances are I am too remote to get it otherwise. But all good tips here. I am listening and learning what makes others disatisfied with their services so that I can avoid those same landmines. Thx all.

  21. Great info, I didn’t know where to start on how to look for someone that would handle my mail while traveling abroad.I’m mainly worried about tax,IRS,bank, credit cards documents, I do not own a business so is plain regular mail that needs to be taken care of. Would these service providers forward packages(amazon,ebay, etc) to my address abroad?
    And Daniel, just like your experience with ECM, at the end of the contract, VPM would allow to fill out a Change of Address form?

    I was about to open an account with ECM and saw your link in google. Would thing I read it. Thanks!!

  22. Wanted to say thanks for posting this and all the comment follow-ups. I was wanting to compare services, but googling for virtual mailboxes was coming up with all of these virtual office places with non-relevant features for me (I don’t need a virtual receptionist!). Checking out VPM and Traveling Mailbox!

  23. Was about to recommend ECM to a friend who is basically living on the road right now when I also stumbled across this post via Google.

    Reading the comments, I see that you now use VPM instead. My question is this: isn’t the same risk of having mail go to the CMRA for 6 months after/if you cancel present with VPM, as it is with ECM? Thanks in advance. Cheers!

  24. I was not happy with VPM. I am on the road constantly and lately have reason to question the security of my mail, so I did a google search, found VPM and set up and paid for a mailbox.
    I put off sending the form 1583 since I called and they said they would be able to receive mail but just wouldn’t be able to have anything forwarded to me until I completed the paper work. That was perfectly fine with me and I figured I would fill out the paperwork when I had a notary handy and needed my mail forwarded. Which wouldn’t be very often since I would only have important mail sent there.
    Here is where we have a problem…. I don’t know exactly why, but when some mail was sent to my assigned and paid for mailbox (one was an actual check), it was returned to sender because the mail was sent to an “undeliverable address”.
    I have since set up another account with a competitor (not ECM) which I have been pretty happy with, i won’t name it because I don’t want this post to seem like an advertisement as some of the above do. But I do want to express that this is one customer who was not happy with VPM.

  25. I used ECM in 2009 & 2010 while we were expats in Europe . . .then the rules changed and the costs went up and we discontinued . . . ignoring the periferal issues of that experience . . .

    This is the interesting issue now we have: Oregon is trying to collect State Taxes for 2009 & 2010 from us, apparently based on the mail-forwarding-address we used . . . OR tax regulation state plainly that taxes may only be assessed on Residents or on OR Sourced Income, neither of which we had, but the pain of getting this reversed and our credit statement cleared is an appalling kafka-esque exercise!

  26. Another frustrated Earthclass mail customer. Any opinion on a better service?
    Any transition tips to new service?

  27. We used Virtual Post Mail for three years while we were living abroad and it was a very useful service for us. We were able to view each piece of mail online, have specific pieces scanned for their contents if necessary and then have selected pieces mailed to us overseas by First Class Mail. The $25 package plan allowed us sufficient scans per month and we only paid for the postage to get the items we wanted delivered to us abroad.

    Make no mistake, all CMRAs are subject to the regulation alluded to above. The postmaster in Walnut, CA is vigilantly watching for change of address (COA) requests that come from VPM customers to forward mail from Virtual Post Mail to a residential address. Since VPM has a business address, a customer CANNOT file a COA request either online, in person or by phone to an address that is classified as residential. These COA requests will be rejected immediately.

    But the story has been getting worse recently. More and more businesses – financial institutions, retailers, any business that sends bulk mailings to its customers – have been subscribing to the US Postal Service’s NCOA (National Change of Address) database in order to receive reduced rates on bulk mailings. They use this database to automatically update their customers’ addresses to the last change of address request that was made at the Post Office by that customer. In order to make the most use of Virtual Post Mail, we filed a COA request from our residential address to Virtual Post Mail in 2011. That worked just fine and we received all of our mail at VPM. But because of the regulation prohibiting you from filing a COA request from VPM or any CMRA back to a residential address, the NCOA database can NEVER BE UPDATED and it will hold on to that last COA request you made to your CMRA for 48 months.

    BEWARE! This leaves you in a ridiculous Catch-22 and we have seen this with our own eyes over the past 6 months. If you go abroad for a few years, use a service like VPM, and then return to that same home address, no matter HOW MANY TIMES you may request a change of address with each of your financial institutions or other businesses, if they subscribe to the NCOA database, your mailing address will be automatically updated back to your outdated CMRA address! I have had several banks do this to us repeatedly over the past 6 months. We have also had NEW subscriptions to magazines – that were never ordered with our CMRA address – registered with our outdated VPM address despite our repeated attempts to order these with our CURRENT residential home address. This problem has reached an unbelievable level of absurdity.

  28. Earth Class Mail recently filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy – see March 2, 2015 article at oregonlive.com.

    NOTHING on the Earth Class Mail website – earthclassmail.com – gives POTENTIAL customers notice of the Bankruptcy.

    For insight into the foundational mindset of this company watch “Startup Junkies” on Hulu.

    At a team meeting in one of the mid-season episodes, the staff discussed that real customer service performance was “inconsistent with” the company’s marketing promises.

    Meaning? Earth Class Mail customer service didn’t deliver what its marketing promised. In other words, marketing promises = lies. Alas, nothing in future episodes showed that Earth Class Mail fixed this “inconsistency” problem.

    Finally, Earth Class Mail’s representative “Sarah Boden” 7/27/11 reply to Danial Elmore’s post is quite telling.

    Ms. Boden begins with the words “I am SORRY THAT YOU didn’t feel your experience with us was great.” (emphasis added)

    When an “apology” with the words “I’m sorry you” – its not an apology; its a passive aggressive deflection calculated to shift the responsibility and fault to the customer. (ie the problem is that “you” feel that way, not that we failed to inform you before you signed up with us.) A real apology contains the words “We’re sorry we” or “I’m sorry we” or something similar indicating that the person apologizing is taking responsibility.

    Avoid doing business with companies that respond to customer concerns with the words “I’m sorry you . . . ” It’s a red flag.

  29. Interesting point about bankruptcy – what are customers to do if the company closes down abruptly?

  30. You need to be able to trust people who handle your mail. Earthclassmail are simply not honest. They charge you from the date you apply for an account and not from the date the account is activated.

  31. I have only recently started to use their service and am already worried about their continuity. I can’t really count on them. I started checking other service providers and am seriously considering switching to Post Scan Mail. It looks quite promising and customer service are very responsive and helpful. Only now I realize I’ve been overcharged all this time by earth class mail when I compared prices to Post Scan mail.

  32. Since Post Scan Mail has been mentioned above, wanted to warn people about them. Would absolutely NOT recommend them. I travel, hence my need for mail forwarding. Post Scan Mail (PSM) handles ONE item a month, (PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION) so timeliness is extremely important. Usually receive email from PSM when package arrives. On 5/27, hadn’t received email from PSM, so phoned pharmacy. Assured package was delivered to PSM on the 21st. This spiraled unbelievable amount of attempts from 5/27 to 6/3 to contact someone at PSM & get my package forwarded. No one EVER answers the phone & email communication was spotty. Then they stopped communicating at all & I STILL don’t have the meds they received on 5/21: On 5/27 1244pm, left message to call me. 142pm attempted to reach by phone. On 5/28 837am left 2nd message to call me. 1040am, 1139am, 1214pm, 150pm, 257pm tried to reach by phone. At 1214pm emailed them. 347pm left 3rd message to call me. 412pm received email asking for tracking info. 8pm, sent them the tracking info. On 5/29 called 923am, 1058am, 109pm, 204pm. 1135am sent another email. 119pm, tweeted & left message on their FB page. 205pm left 4th message to CALL ME. 324pm missed the ONE call I got. At 347pm tried to call back, same as always, no answer. At 412pm received email from Marie admitting they HAD my package & needed an address to send it to but they’d had a software upgrade, were backlogged & package still wouldn’t go out until Monday, 6/1, (a package they’d now had for 8 days). 453pm sent address in NC where I would be for that week. On 6/1 at 149 emailed to confirm shipment. 342pm received email it would NOT go out until POSSIBILY Tuesday. 356pm, emailed, said this is UNACCEPTABLE service. On 6/2 214pm, 222pm tried to reach by phone. Still no one answers. Left message at two different phone numbers. 237pm emailed again to confirm shipment. No response. 6/3 656am emailed to confirm shipment or give new address as I’m leaving NC area soon. NO PACKAGE & NO FURTHER RESPONSES from them. Are you kidding me? This is a prescription medication.

  33. Valuable comments . I was fascinated by the info . Does anyone know if my assistant would be able to get access to a blank 2004 USPS PS 1583 version to fill in ?

  34. I wouldn’t trust someone else to scan either confidential data, such as, but not limited to medical or financial data. How do they get around HIPPA regulations? I have my mail sent to a PO Box, when possible. The main things I can’t get at home are from the MVA. That means that anything to do with my license, emissions, or my license plates must be entered into my calendar. I know too many people who have been hacked, and who people have tried to hack. You can opt to receive an ebill for free from many of the utilities–for free. You can also do that with some of your credit cards. It costs me nothing extra to do electronic banking from my particular financial institution, which is a credit union. Read all of the print, fine or not before signing up for such a service.

  35. This one is not related to previous queries but I’d really appreciate any help. Among the junk emails I receive are loads from “Nick Harison” under the email address “nick@earthmailtrack.com”. I don’t want his stuff, never subscribed to a mailing list at earthmailtrack.com and am being driven mad by this constant annoyance. I don’t want to click on the purported “unsubscribe” links (there are 2 for “MG”) because I think the whole thing is a scam (always promising me various ‘free’ items from well known brands out here who would never ask ‘Nick’ to do their advertising). I am in Australia and use a well known communications company as my email provider.
    Is there anything I can do to get this fake guy to stop emailing?????
    thanks

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