Outbox turns snail mail into digital mail

February 27, 2013 in Journal

OutboxI travel quite frequently and this month was no exception. I spent most of the first two weeks of February on the road. Under normal circumstances, this would mean coming home to a small pile of mail. During the Month of Letters it meant coming home to a mountain. I only realized this would be the case around the middle of December as my travel plans solidified. This is in no way a complaint, though, because coming home to a mountain of letters did fill me with a certain joy.

Dealing with mail while on long trips can be an issue, especially when you don’t have a housemate or family member at home to open things and take care of urgent business.Yesterday, I read about a service called Outbox. They recently expanded from serving Austin, TX to San Francisco, CA. Outbox turns your paper mail into digital mail by gathering your letters, scanning them, then uploading the files to a digital mail box that you can access via a browser or an iPad app.

Outbox will come collect your mail every three days and holds on to the paper for up to 60 days. Customers may request re-delivery of their paper mail if they want to keep it. Outbox also sorts mail by type — bills, junk, flyers, personal correspondence. Just as with email, you can flag a letter as Junk and the Outbox team will stop scanning mail from that source and just toss it.

Some of you may be recoiling in horror at the idea of taking paper mail and making it digital. After all, we send handwritten letters this month instead of email or Tweets or status updates for a reason. And though the Outbox website says that they screen their employees better than the Postal Service does, I’m sure plenty of people would be uncomfortable with a stranger looking at their mail. Especially personal letters.

I can see this being a great service for people who are often away from home. Putting a hold on mail is useful, but only if you’re sure you don’t need to see any of it before you get back home. With Outbox you can keep up with bills or letters and still get the physical copies when you’re back. Plus, you can sort and search our snail mail almost as easily as your email.

Still, strangers looking at my mail…

Does Outbox‘s service tempt you even a little?

7 responses to Outbox turns snail mail into digital mail

  1. Doesn’t sound like a service I would enjoy.

  2. Most of my mail this month is postcards, which can be read by anyone who sees them.

  3. I’m not really a very private person, but I don’t think I’d like other people to read my letters. They say they screen their employees, well I’m sure they do at daycare centers too, but they still end up hiring pedophiles every now and then. Who’s to say that there aren’t creeps working at Outbox?
    I really don’t travel enough to even have the need of a service like this, but honestly I’d rather give my house key to a friend or colleague and have them check my mail once a week or so, and sort out bills and whatever else I might need right away. If necessary I’d have them scan it or read it to me, it’s really just the personal correspondence I want to keep private. If not for my own sake, then for the sake of my penpal, who writes the letter assuming I’m going to be the only one reading it.

  4. The idea of turning paper mail into digital mail isn’t what makes me recoil in horror, but the idea of strangers having access to my mail does. Do they have you sign some type of waiver, since strangers aren’t really allowed to open your mail?
    If I was going to be a way so long that such a service might be needed, then I would either have a friend pick up the mail or provide people with an address they can reach me at. I wouldn’t worry too much about bills, because those accounts can be accessed online and you can schedule payments.

  5. Wow…that is so wrong. I would be very upset if someone I was writing to used that service! I couldn’t imagine using it myself, because I’d have to ask permission from all my correspondents, including potential correspondents, for their private letters to be seen by strangers. And that’s obviously impossible.

  6. I just don’t like the idea…

  7. Mia said on March 2, 2013

    Or, how about email transported by snails?

    http://www.realsnailmail.net/

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