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Old 23-04-2006, 18:19   #1
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mail forwarding/bill paying

greedtings. looking for a recommendation for a good company for mail forwarding and/or bill paying. anybody with experience (good or bad), would love to hear from you. shameless plugs readily accepted!

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Old 23-04-2006, 20:42   #2
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where will you be sailing?

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Old 23-04-2006, 20:49   #3
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I use my bank for bill paying via the internet and am very happy with that. If you don't think the internet is secure, you can get a digital key from many banks that require the person making the request on the internet to type in the code from a keychain that they have present, which adds a physical layer of protection.

As for mail forwarding, I have all my bills sent to a PO Box at a postal center (Like Mailboxes, etc) and I call them (via Skype) and have them check the box for me and if there is important mail, I have them forward to me where ever I am at (for a fee of course).

I would be very interested in finding a secure company that could scan all my mail and post it to a SSL protected website. That would be great. Anyone know of a mail to email service?
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Old 24-04-2006, 00:18   #4
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Stykman:

As Eric implies, you might want to think about residency & tax issues when selecting your mail forwarder; there may be reasons you want one located in a specific state or province.

That aside, we listened to a poll being taken one storm season down in Trinidad on the VHF Net; one cruiser was unhappy and wanted to change his mail forwarder so he collected data off the VHF net over some weeks. The hands-down winner (in percentage represented from this mostly North American group and with the highest rating) was St. Brendan's Isle in Florida - www.boatmail.net We later met Doug & Linda, mid-life career changers who have now owned that company for almost a decade and switched over in 2002. Doug had a corporate career in logistics, they've subsequently moved into larger facilities (they must own a substantial share of this market, for both sailors and RV'ers), and we've found their service to be excellent.

We too use Skype when possible, both to contact them and also to resolve other issues when they surface. We've shedded almost all paper and all regular payments are not electronic & automatic...but we've found there's always going to an occasional task which requires personal intervention and some amount of paper, which is why Skype and a good mail forwarder remain important for the long-distance cruiser.

Andy, I know of no one currently doing the kind of scanning you ask about. I wonder if it would be feasible financially. We've throttled back all the junk mail, magazines, etc. and yet there is still mostly unproductive mail that arrives in our pouch. The thought of all that being scanned - or decisions made about whether it should be scanned - seems impractical to me, both in terms of accepted liability by the forwarder and volume. Perhaps your life is simplier than ours... <g>

Jack
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Old 24-04-2006, 09:07   #5
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Escapees

My Uncle is an RVer and has been using these folks for some time. He speaks very highly of them. Combine these guys with online banking and you're done as far as I can tell.

http://www.escapees.com
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Old 24-04-2006, 18:17   #6
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We use a local mail service for ours that has a great reputation here in Annapolis. St. Brendan's Isle though has the largest market share and a great reputation. We chose to keep residency in MD which is why we did not go with St Brendan's. Good luck
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Old 25-04-2006, 11:21   #7
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Jon D brings up a good point. Wherever your address is for mail purposes will be assumed by that state as your legal address (for tax purposes). I was planning to have my son, a Virginia resident, handle my mail until the VA Dept. of Revenue advised me that I would be subject to state income tax. I'll take Florida's piddly intangible tax in a minute, and I'm already a FL resident anyway. But for those who are not...
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Old 25-04-2006, 11:45   #8
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Jack, Andy-
I've been looking for a way to get some income and have the experience to do a "scan to secured web" service. But I've often wondered, WOULD anyone pay for it, and if so, how much would they pay? Would you need to pay by the page, by the month with a page "quota" or limit? And so on. I would expect the way to go would be to scan either "everything" at one price (except catalogs and mags<G>) or to selectively post the first-class and known billing addresses, omitting the bulk-class junk.

I'd really appreciate your thoughts on whether and how this might work for you. As well as the effects of the "c/o" address being imputed as your residence. I'm not sure that all states would automatically presume a post box or c/o was or could be a domicile.
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Old 25-04-2006, 12:25   #9
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Could you get a P.O. box, in the State of your choice, and have the Post Office automatically forward all mail sent to that address to another address? Your mail would be addressed to the first PO Box, but delivered to the second.
Read that in a novel, but it sounded implausible.
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Old 25-04-2006, 12:56   #10
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Gord, last time I checked the USPS would only "temporarily forward" mail for 30 days maximum. On the other hand, if you take the time to locate a small rural post office with a one-man staff and pay him to bend the rules, who is to say.

I know I've seen separate residence/vs/mailing addresses on many government forms, as long as there is a "residence" or domicile maintained the mailing address should (ha) not be a problem.
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Old 26-04-2006, 01:03   #11
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Gord, we do that regularly but it isn't a permanent solution. Once an initial lease period is concluded with a given post office, you can file either a 'permanent' or 'temporary' change of address with the USPS and they will forward your mail, cost free. The difference between the two changes has to do with what will be forwarded, as you can stipulate on the form - for either choice - the end date of the forwarding service. The time limits are much longer than hellosailor mentions: 6 months for temp and 12 months for permanent. This is covered in detail on the USPS website.

For folks like us, with a permanent residence we occasionally return to, it's the best of both worlds. We toggle mail delivery 'on' when returning to our condo and can then redirect folks to that address while also leaving things 'as is' and the rest of the mail goes to the forwarder, which we only occasionally need to have forwarded to us. With most things electronic, getting mail only once every 4-6 months is not a hardship, so there's no reason to get it regularly when back home.

But for folks who permanently cut their ties, having USPS forward mail solves problems only for a finite period of time.

Jack
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Old 26-04-2006, 02:32   #12
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A trusted relative...

Does anyone know of a good mail forwarding place in Australia?
The few that I found were so expensive that I am planning to use a trusted relative.
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Old 26-04-2006, 08:17   #13
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One of mankinds, biggest curses. "Bills, debts"!! Arrrggghhhh!!!
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Old 27-04-2006, 17:55   #14
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Jack, what WOULD you think folks would pay, for how much of what kind of service? (Posting their mail to the internet, securely.)
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Old 28-04-2006, 00:38   #15
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hello:

I would pay nothing, as there are two problems with the approach you are interested in - for me, at least. The first is that a forwarder will want to go thru ALL my mail and scan everything, while I may only need to see 1 in a 100 scanned items. The forwarder's alternative to me, if I don't want him scanning everything, is to offer a somewhat more 'personalized' (labor intensive) service - all the forwarders I've talked with/used do this - so that they can be on the lookout for that one item (property tax bill, which can't be automated by me) I need them to scan. And again, I'm paying monthly for enhanced service that I only need once or twice a year.

The second reason is that - again, for me - I don't like to set myself up to *need* internet connectivity within a finite time window. Sometimes, access is very expensive or a hassle to find or simply unavailable. I don't like being in a situation where I'm forced to access the net when it doesn't make sense. A better alternative for me - again, for those rare occasions - is to know the dates I must honor and, in the absence of mail and on-line info, just mail off a payment that I'm sure will meet the needs. I've had to do this once in 6 years for a property tax bill.

I'm sure I'd feel differently if we didn't have email on the boat, if we weren't good about moving everything into auto-payment and on-line account management, and if our lives were more complicated...but such is not the case for me.

I can't tell you what such a service would be worth to anyone else. How could I possibly know? And oh my, the cruising fleet is nothing if it is not diverse; the value would vary with each crew, I suspect.

Jack
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