When the Internet began to catch on and email became the latest way to communicate, many predicted that it would eventually replace the âˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â‰ˆÃ¬snail mail postal serviceâˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨Â¬Ã¹ in a few years. That hasn’t happened. Yet.
Zumbox might be the next step towards the final demise of the USPS. It claims to replace every existing, physical street address in the United States with an equivalent web page that allows the person at that address to log in and view mail sent to them through Zumbox.
Here’s how it works: people who wish to send mail via zumbox rather than regular mail can send a virtual (scanned or file-based version) through zumbox to the street or mailing address of the person it’s to go to.
The receiver logs in and retrieves the virtual mail from the zumbox website. Once retrieved, the mail can be printed, saved, or discarded at the receiver’s discretion. Mail sent this way meets several security requirements, including medical HIPPA and financial banking restrictions.
The cost for most users is free and all mail is free to receive. Larger senders, like businesses or clubs, pay fees of about two cents per mailing for bulk mailings. So a business that currently spends forty-one cents per letter to send monthly invoices, for example, could send those same invoices for two cents each instead. There is an API for developers to integrate their mailings automatically with zumbox.
The real question here is compliance and usability. In order to initially read mail, users first must create an account with Zumbox and wait for a PIN to arrive via regular snail mail (maybe the USPS will still have a use). While they claim it works with any postal address in the U.S., however, my address (which is a PO box) did not work and produced an error. With their permission, I tried it with my neighbor’s physical address (which receives mail deliveries, mine does not) and it did work there.
The site is in beta, so some problems can be expected. Zumbox is based in Westlake Village, California and has a comprehensive FAQ and help center on their website as well as contact emails for several company officers and specialists.
While it may not be a total replacement for the USPS, Zumbox could be the next step towards that paperless dream. I can imagine the possibilities of spam filters in the future killing off the junk mail in my virtual âˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨â‰ˆÃ¬physicalâˆšÂ¢â€šÃ‡Â¨Â¬Ã¹ mailbox too. Of course, that would remove one of my favorite past-times: stuffing junk mail back into the return address envelope and mailing it back, postage due. Perhaps technology does sometimes come at too high a price.