USPS adds much needed features to their PO Box service: Email/Text mail notifications, street addressing, signature on file

English: Letters in a post office box in a US ...

English: Letters in a post office box in a US post office lobby. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was waiting to write about this until it was active on the USPS website but it still doesn’t seem to be (at least not in my account) so this info is all based off a letter I received from my local postmaster. It appears that, until they get the website updated, you have to call your local postmaster to opt into these features for now. In short, in the near future, USPS Post Office boxes will be getting the following new features:

  • Email or Text Message notification of new mail: This service is, to me, the most overdue. Just like they say, they’ll email or text you whenever you get new mail in your box so that you don’t have to bother going to check it when you know there’s nothing new. Just about all the third party postal boxes already had this service so it’s very nice to see the USPS finally catching up. The letter from my postmaster calls this, “Real Mail Notification Services.” Does this mean real-time notification or that they’ll only alert you for “real mail” aka not junk mail? I’m hoping the latter.
  • Street Addressing: The ability to use the actual Post Office street address for incoming mail. Their letter advertises that this would give your business more credibility but I’m more excited about the fact that this would let us get packages such as FedEx and UPS delivered to our PO Boxes through this loophole (which the letter calls “private carriers”. It’s also great for those official registrations (hello, US Government) that don’t let you use a PO Box for your public address.
  • They’ll sign for packages for you. Leave your signature on file with them and they’ll accept signature required mail and packages on your behalf. The downside? They’ll only do it for USPS services, not retail services like UPS and FedEx.

As a PO Box owner, I’m really glad to see them adding some of these services and I’m frankly amazed to see them playing nice with UPS, FedEx and other retail carriers with the street addressing feature. This really does eliminate most of my objections to a USPS PO Box over those at retail centers and at least brings them up to speed (services wise, price is another story) with their competitors.

But are changes like these enough to save the USPS? What do you think?

Author: Hillary DePiano

Selling online since 1997, Hillary is the author of several books and eBooks about ecommerce and publishing including Beyond Amazon, eBay, and Etsy and Sell Their Stuff. She also writes fiction and is a bestselling playwright when you aren't looking. For a complete list of books, plays and projects, visit HillaryDePiano.com.

Share This Post On
  • JunkMail

    Signed up for Real Mail Notification in February (after convincing the front desk staff at the Main Post Office in my Major East Coast City that the service existed).  It’s worse than nothing, because if anything arrives for the previous box-holder, you get a Real Mail Notification, that mail gets forwarded to the previous box-holder, and you arrive to find an empty P.O. box.  All false hits!

    • http://www.hillarydepiano.com Hillary

      I signed up for mine back in Feb and they still haven’t activated it yet so I don’t even know what it’s like.

      I guess we should have assumed that the post office can never really do anything right…

    • Mylissa Graves

      I am having the same problem, how do we stop the texts? Maybe you have my old mail box lol

  • GUEST

    Like any service – it’s only as good as the info you input into it.  Most likely, Hillary, either info you input was incorrect, or somewhere in the process.  Simply reapplying the info will take care of it.  We’ve been using mail notifications for nearly a year already – without a hitch.  I have no idea about @JnkMail’s post.  I might be able to see how that could happen, but wouldn’t know for sure since we’ve had our box for nearly 19 years.  I also know its NOT true that USPS won’t accept private carrier deliveries.  They DO!

  • http://www.facebook.com/priscilla.hammond Priscilla Bray Hammond

    Called the USPS and they said no such service exists.

    • http://www.hillarydepiano.com Hillary

      These services are alive and well at most post offices and are supposed to be available nationwide. The sad reality is, though, that they run the post office like local franchises and some offices opt not to offer certain services. I don’t think they’re supposed to do this but the fact that the USPS doesn’t force them to standardize is just yet another thing wrong with our postal system.

      • http://www.facebook.com/priscilla.hammond Priscilla Bray Hammond

        I called them back (USPS toll-free number) and they told me I needed to speak to the local branch. Busy signal every time I try to call. :(

        • http://www.hillarydepiano.com Hillary

          The suck is strong with them. I feel your pain, I truly do. :-/

  • John

    The USPS claims they have no way of stopping this service. So, if you get a new phone number from someone who previously had this service, you will be hounded every time they get e-mail because the USPS has no way to change the phone number.

    • http://www.hillarydepiano.com Hillary

      Ugh, how frustrating. I don’t get the notifications via phone, only email, but I wonder if the same applies. If you change your email address, will they not be able to change it in the system?

      Although, as ever, try calling your local office if the main # told you this because every local branch does it differently.

    • Sharon

      I closed out my PO Box, someone else has it, and I keep getting notifications that HE has new mail. How do I stop this notification??

      • http://www.hillarydepiano.com/ Hillary

        Have you called your local office? From what our local postmaster has told me, it’s very low-tech, just a checkbox somewhere in your account that is either on or off. It should be a simple matter for them to fix, in theory.

  • Raymond Barrett

    I got a new box back in March, and signed up for email notification, but I never received any notices. About a month later, I stop by the office to let them know that I never got anything, but the clerk said the only thing she could do was fill out another form. This time I give them my business card, to make sure nothing is being written down incorrectly. But I still never received any notices. The new features sounded great (I’ve used p.o. boxes for years) but if none of them work, why are they even promoting them? It’s only going to lead to further customer dissatisfaction.