Earth Class Mail Sucks
I was a customer for about 4 years of Earth Class Mail, starting in 2008. Besides very poor service, they nearly tripled their charges over that time (and this was a few years ago, I imagine it is worse now). Even simple requests to improve the service are met with thankful tidings and then silence, for years-on-end. It's really quite maddening. In any case, I've abandoned them, and it turns out all for the best. There are a myriad of other service providers who offer the same or similar services. Here are a few I have looked into that appear to have good offerings. There are many more out there.
Remailing and Virtual Address Services
2016 Update - Over the past few years there has been some segmentation of this growing market for mailing addresses and remailing services. Traditionally the service was for travellers, those without a fixed address at least part of the year (RV and boating enthusiasts). Then virtual locations became popular both with expats and foreigners who had the same need for themselves or their business. Finally, a large segment emerged for people wishing to buy online (in the US, mainly but also elsewhere) and to reduce the cost of, or in some cases make possible, shipment to their actual address. Many countries are not supported on platforms like Amazon and Ebay, and these remailers (and virtual shopping services) became popular. Finally we are seeing an integration of company formation, virtual address, and remailing services.
Caution on Remailers
The main remailing services focused on virtual shopping have large marketing budgets and horrible reputations. These should be avoided. Some people have satisfactory experiences, but too many do not. The biggest cost comes when there are handling fees (this is true for all companies in this business), and worse if they require the use of specific carriers, especially courier services for shipping abroad. This is a scam, because the wholesale price to them is a lot less than what they charge, whereas if they were to use cheaper mailing services, especially USPS Priority shipping out of the USA, they would earn less money. Costs can balloon significantly because of added import duties, taxes, insurance and fees.
Virtual Shopping-focused Remailers
There are others out there but those listed here: Viabox, Shipito, and MyUS are a good indication of the shady side of remailing. Folks are looking to save money, as well as have access to various ecommerce sites that don't normally ship to where they live (Amazon, Ebay, etc.), but in the end costs can balloon, especially for these virtual shopping-focused remailers.
The Notorious Viabox
Notorious in not a good way. Indeed, they had to change their name due to a variety of lawsuits and judgements against them. A perusal of the Pissed (-Off) Consumer page on Viabox should give sufficient pause. The biggest problem with them is fraud. Fraud because they say they support USPS as a shipping agent, and then when you try and get that, they say they can't (after several weeks of emails back and forth).
I ended up getting charged $128 USD for shipping and handling, for something that should have cost $50-70 USD at most. But that isn't the end of the matter. By forcing the use of DHL, I was hit with another $80 USD in tariffs, taxes and fees. Part of this was because they didn't write down the correct contents (used vs. new items) and also because of the use of DHL, which prepaid the incorrect tariffs and then demanded them from me. Communication is atrocious and the website is full of lies, plus their online system is so crippled nearly everything requires an email to the support dept, which answers the email and closes the ticket (and another department is supposed to then handle it). Pretty much the most amateurish operation I've ever encountered.
The Suspicious Shipito
I've not personally dealt with them, and was going to use them after I exited Viabox, but there are enough horror stories on the web with them. It seems they used to be great, but now there are many reports that they have jacked up the prices and are basically doing the same Earth Class Mail routine. Not to mention poor communication and customer service, something rife in this industry, unfortunately.
MyUS, a new entrant
There are some fairly good reviews for MyUS, there are also enough signs it is going the way of Viabox and Shipito. Apparently, as per the usual, there are a lot of hidden charges with MyUS.
Traditional Mail Forwarding Services
The following are some current mailbox/mail forwarding services. One can expect to have their mail scanned and available by pdf, and to group mail and packages together for remailing. These are usually safer as their business model includes two revenue streams: virtual addresses and remailing. Here are a few, with more description below:
- Mail Link Plus,
- Mailbox Forwarding,
- My RV Mail,
- St. Brendan's Isle, and
- Virtual Post Mail,
Mail Link Plus
Mail Link Plus is based in Las Vegas and offers mailbox and mail forwarding. Street address comes standard and they do mail scanning. Prices start at $30/3 months. Reasonable. Haven't tried them.
Mailbox Forwarding has real addresses in Michigan (free), Los Angeles and Pompano Beach, FL (additional price/month). Reasonable $10/mo not including additional address charges. Not so bad, though the shipping costs ended up being more than expected. Also, the address charge and monthly fee added up, especially for my needs which are fairly light. Left them due to better prices elsewhere.
My RV Mail
My RV Mail, as the name suggests, focuses on the RV people, but the services are the same needed by expatriates. Mail forwarding services, online scans of mail, florida address. Starting around $25/mo for full access, down to $15/mo for yearly prepay. Haven't tried them.
St. Brendan's Isle
St. Brendan's Isle targets boating people, as well as other travelers and traveling business people. Added value of helping establish Florida residency. Around $20/mo with online access to scanned mail. Prepay $100 and monthly debits against the credit. Used these guys for years, and they worked fairly well. The online shipping tool they could never fix a part of so every shipment needed a few emails to get going. I shipped an item through them that was lost on the way out of the USA (USPS Priority) and there was never any resolution (no insurance, nothing). This soured me on them and I switched to Mailbox Forwarding (below).
Virtual Post Mail
Virtual Post Mail offers a very low introductory price but reasonable prices after the trial. Address in Los Angeles, CA (actually Walnut, CA). Check deposit services also available.
PoboxZone (Nevada, Delaware, Wyoming)
PoboxZone offers mail forwarding in Las Vegas, Nevada. They will offer addresses in Delaware and Wyoming in 2017. Besides receiving and forwarding mail PoboxZone does mail scanning, with pdfs sent via email and/or directly uploaded to Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive. They have free shredding of unwanted mail and free storing until mailout. Packages and parcels can be received as well, which is pretty rare among mail forwarding companies. It's a good solution for travelers and even companies that haven't got a physical office. Clearly they are targeting this virtual office for companies niche, which is a wise move in my opinion. If they integrate actual company formation as well, that could be a very powerful value add.
Wyoming Agents focuses on the Agent requirement in Wyoming LLC and Corporation registrations. By providing that service (along with the registered address) they provide the legal requirement along with a privacy service. In addition, for a low cost, they offer remailing services. However, they do not accept mail for individuals, only for a company name.
Bottom Line and How to Choose a Remailer
Like with many kinds of industries, organizations can be good and then go bad in terms of prices and service. There is no guarantee that a good experience today will stay that way tomorrow, and certainly pricing can and does change. It pays to stick with a smaller operation that is not greedy, but at the same time is competent and professional, and they actually like happy customers. Again, even these relationships can go bad, so just keep in mind that moving to a different remailer/virtual address is almost a certainty. Stay organized regarding all the places that addresses need to change, and be prepared to make a change when needed. There is no reason to suffer for months on end from inflated prices, poor customer service, and incompetent remailing.
While I still have virtual address needs, I have backed away from remailing. There has been an increase in availability of items to ship to my country of residence (Thailand) from the likes of Amazon, Ebay, and also new ecommerce sites such as Lazada which operate there. While I had savings on many items, there were also significant costs that may have made it all not worth the trouble, in the long run.
Post Office Form 1583
This form is required to give permission to have a third party collect your postal mail (does not apply to parcel shippers, but only to the US Postal Service). This also needs to be notarized, so if you are far away from a Notary, or one is more expensive (say, abroad), then check out NotaryCam which is an online service. Apparently this is a valid method good in all 50 US States.