Don Bisdorf

The Birthday Card Saga

Categories: [blog]

Mailing a birthday card, today:

I stuff the card in its envelope, slap on a Forever stamp I bought five years ago, put it in my mailbox and wait. In the afternoon, the delivery driver picks up the card. In a few days, the card arrives at my mom's house.

A picture of mail envelopes. Photo by Liam Truong on Unsplash.

Mailing a birthday card, after the Post Office shuts down and is replaced by private companies:

My card doesn't fit in the FuturoMail envelope, since it's a handmade card, not an official FuturoMail birthday card. I trim the card down to fit the envelope, seal it, double-check the expiration date on the envelope, put it in my mailbox.

Three days later, no one has collected the card. I call FuturoMail. After a half-hour on hold, I find out that FuturoMail has outsourced its mail pickup to Uber-style gig drivers. The driver assigned to my area hasn't been able to find my house because Google Maps isn't accurate for my location. I give them the directions to pass on to the driver.

Three days later, still no pickup. I call support again, manage to reach regional dispatch, leave the correct directions again. The next day, the card is picked up.

The day after, I get an e-mail from FuturoMail. Their package scanners have detected that I used a FuturoMail greeting card envelope with a non-FuturoMail card. All third-party greeting cards have to be sent using the FuturoMail "YourChoice" Envelopes, not the FuturoMail "Greeting" Envelopes. Because I used the wrong envelope, I have to pay a surcharge. I authorize the charge through PayPal.

A week later, I call my mom to wish her a happy birthday. She says she hasn't received my card. I go online to my FuturoMail account. The web site sucks, but after struggling through the menus, I find that all of my outgoing mail, including the check I sent to my builder and my absentee ballot, are "pending on hold." I can't find any way on the web site to get them released.

I call support again. I get assigned a ticket and I'm told someone will look into it.

I call again a day later. I find out that FuturoMail is being acquired by ZipMail, and they're in the middle of a database transition. Due to a bug, all my mail was placed on hold. Also, now that my mail is being transitioned to ZipMail, I have to choose a new service package.

I browse through the service package listings. They all come in confusing bundles, and in the end, they're all going to be more expensive than my FuturoMail package. I look around for another local service, but there aren't any. ZipMail has crowded out all the local competitors. My only alternative, if I don't want ZipMail, is to drive to a FedUPSNow retail location a half-hour away for pickup and dropoff. With resignation, I sign up for the Bronze Plus ZipMail service.

The next week, my card shows up at my mom's door, but since she's a NextMail subscriber and not a ZipMail subscriber, they charge her an extra buck and a half to deliver it.

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