My review of Earth Class Mail: An indispensable service for me!
I use Earth Class Mail to solve a dilemma for me. My dilemma is that with over 200 clients for my business (where I create FileMaker databases and provide the nation’s best FileMaker consulting), I am constantly receiving checks in the mail that need to be deposited into my bank account.
But because I work alone and because I travel quite frequently to visit my clients all across the nation, I’m rarely at home to receive & deposit these checks. So, if I go on a lengthy business trip, the checks will accumulate in my mailbox, and therefore not make their way into my bank account when I need the money deposited.
Sure, I could hire a personal assistant to check my mailbox for me, but that seems like overkill. And yes, I already accept credit cards on my iPhone and iPad with Square, but I provide services for many large corporations who will only pay their invoices via check. Even if the companies DID pay me via credit card, I’m not totally into giving Square a 3.5% + 15¢ cut of each transaction. So I’d actually prefer to get paid by checks. (Now granted, Earth Class Mail costs money too, but their minimal fees compared to how many checks I process in a month make them significantly more cost effective for me than Square.)
Enter Earth Class Mail, a virtual mailbox service that I signed up with to receive my incoming mail and deposit my incoming checks for me (this service is called remote check deposit). Note that Earth Class Mail will receive ANY TYPE of mail or packages for you, but for the purposes of this review, I’m going to focus primarily on the check deposit feature. The check deposit feature works with any bank in America… I’ve seen some other reviews on the web that state that Earth Class Mail only works with Wells Fargo, but that’s not true anymore… that was only true many, many years ago.
Earth Class Mail has a very slick website that you log into, and the site works very well on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. The website will show you scanned images of all the envelopes that they have received on your behalf (but note that it will cost you extra $$$ if you actually want them to DO anything with your envelope, outside of throwing it away). For example, they can forward you the envelope to wherever you are physically residing at the current moment, they can open up the envelope for you & scan the contents within, and they can electronically deposit any checks that are found within.
The best thing about Earth Class Mail’s remote check deposit service is that it is completely automated. You don’t need to be manually involved with the process at all. There is a setting on their website which tells them to “automatically scan the contents of every envelope” and “automatically deposit any checks that are found within an envelope”. If a check is found, they electronically scan the check and email it to a company called FundTech, which then makes an electronic ACH deposit into your bank account.
All of this works extremely well and is extremely reliable. Not to mention that their customer support staff is extremely helpful & extremely friendly, and they’ve really figured out how to make a great website that lets you keep track of everything. The website is just so wonderful, because they’ve got literally dozens & dozens of settings that you can tweak to make the service work perfectly for you. (For example, there are about 8 different levels of email notifications that you can opt in or out of; they can notify more than one email address for notifications; they can keep track of multiple forwarding addresses for you if you forward a lot of mail; etc.)
For example, below is a screenshot of all the settings you can choose for your “Content Scan Options”:
The only minor problem with Earth Class Mail is that you’ll need to become slightly more patient with the receiving & processing of your mail, because it does take several days for the check deposit process to complete. Earth Class Mail requires up to one (1) business day in between every step in the process, but Earth Class Mail doesn’t work on Saturdays nor holidays, so that could add some extra delays.
Here is a real-life example of how the days could potentially add up with Earth Class Mail:
– I have a premium address with Earth Class Mail in Los Angeles, so I get the fastest speeds. A premium address is an address where they process all the mail on-site. A non-premium address is a P.O. Box that simply collects mail, and then has all its mail forwarded to one of the premium addresses before it gets processed. So if you want the quickest turnaround times, do what I do and get a premium address. You can also get a significantly cheaper premium P.O. Box as well, where they process the mail on-site too, but you can never receive FedEx or UPS packages at a P.O. Box… only USPS shipments.
– Normally, a check mailed from New York to Los Angeles only takes 3 days. So, if someone mails you a check on Tuesday, Earth Class Mail will receive it on Friday. But it could potentially take Earth Class Mail up to one business day to scan the envelopes, so you might not get notified about this envelope until the next business day, which would be Monday. If Monday is a holiday, then you wouldn’t get notified about that envelope until Tuesday. (This exact scenario happened to me when using Earth Class Mail for the first time, but the delays aren’t typically this long. You will often get notified of the envelopes on the very same day that they receive them.)
– Even if you’ve got the option set to “automatically scan the contents of your envelopes”, your envelope won’t typically get opened up & scanned until the next business day, which could be Wednesday. (Although sometimes this does happen on the same exact day as the receiving of the envelope.)
– If you’ve got the option set to “automatically deposit any checks within an envelope”, your check might not get scanned & emailed to FundTech until the next business day, Thursday. (Although again, this can often happen on the same exact day as the content scan above.)
– FundTech requires 2 full business days to simply initiate your check deposit for you. The first day is a required one-day hold on the check, when they don’t do anything. The second day is the day that they will actually initiate the check deposit with your bank. But they don’t initiate the check deposit until the very end of the business day, which is apparently too late for Bank of America (my bank) to recognize that a check deposit was initiated. More on this below, but what all of this means is that your deposit might not get initiated until Monday.
– But hold on a moment! Just because you waited 2 full days for FundTech to initiate your check deposit doesn’t necessarily mean that your bank is even aware of the deposit yet. It might take your bank at least 1 more business day to recognize that an ACH check deposit was initiated, which would be Tuesday.
– But wait just a second! The funds are not yours yet! Your funds might not be made available for you to withdraw until the next business day, which is Wednesday. Although a lot of this depends on your bank.
So this is definitely a “worst case scenario”, where it could take a grand total of 15 days from the time the check was sent, to the time that you can withdraw the funds from your bank account. And while I am obviously listing the maximum amount of time here that this process could take with a premium street address, this exact situation happened to me with the very first check that I received through Earth Class Mail.
However, ever since that first-time experience with Earth Class Mail, things have been happening MUCH MUCH faster with Earth Class Mail. Often times, Earth Class Mail will open the envelope, scan the envelope, and deposit the check all in the same exact day! Then, I just have to wait out the FundTech process. So, if Earth Class Mail receives a check of mine on Monday, it will often be in my bank account for me to withdraw by Thursday or Friday of the same week.
So is Earth Class Mail worth it, considering these multi-day delays? For me, the answer is: ABSOLUTELY!
To start with, I’ve simply changed my expectations about “how quickly” things should happen. I simply chill out & relax & take some deep breaths in between the stages! :) Waiting an extra day or two really isn’t that big of a deal! The fact that I can travel around the world while my mail is being handled in a professional manner MORE than makes up for any time delays.
And, have I mentioned how wonderful the ECM website is? I love having a website that’s structured just like webmail. My real-life postal mail comes into ECM just like webmail! It’s so awesome.
So if you are a solo entrepreneur who travels all the time — especially if you’re traveling internationally — Earth Class Mail is an excellent, indispensable solution because it is very reliable, it works very well, the website is very slick, and it has great customer support! In fact, I spent weeks comparing Earth Class Mail to several other virtual mailbox companies that offer remote check deposits, and Earth Class Mail was the quickest and the cheapest amongst all the other companies. Earth Class Mail also offered the most customizable options, and in my opinion, Earth Class Mail had the best, most knowledgeable, and friendliest support team of all.
So, if you’re going to go down this path (either the virtual mailbox path or the remote check deposit path), you have to go with Earth Class Mail. There is just no comparison. In my opinion, they are definitely the best remote check deposit service & best virtual mailbox service out there.
I am just so incredibly pleased with Earth Class Mail that I wrote them an email that included this paragraph in it:
I would really like to take a moment to congratulate you & say thank you for the amazing job that you and your team have done with Earth Class Mail… ECM is truly becoming a lifesaver for me, and it is absolutely ASTOUNDING as to how much detail & thought & technical expertise had to go into creating EVERYTHING that Earth Class Mail does. Just the sheer magnitude of settings that we’re allowed to tweak on your website goes to show how much time & how much care went into building Earth Class Mail, not to mention the hundreds of different things that your nationwide staff has to manage every single day. I absolutely love the website!! And I can’t even imagine all the “magic” that takes place behind the scenes to make it seem so easy & seamless for the user. I’m a FileMaker programmer myself, and what I do pales in comparison to the massive technical accomplishments that you have achieved with Earth Class Mail. I mean, on a daily basis, I am truly astounded at how many different things ECM handles, and how it handles all those things FLAWLESSLY! It is worth every penny that I pay for it, and it really gives me the freedom to travel around the country, visiting my clients, and not worrying about my mail or my checks while I’m gone. I am just so incredibly pleased with ECM. Your company truly makes it possibly for entrepreneurs to live a “virtual lifestyle”… without ECM, I would still be “crippled” by my mailbox at home. I don’t know how anybody could ever live a “virtual lifestyle” BEFORE Earth Class Mail, in fact! So, many thanks to you and ECM. Earth Class Mail makes “virtual” actually possible. Not to mention that the customer service staff is sooo incredibly friendly!
If my readers have any questions about Earth Class Mail, I would be happy to answer them in the comments below!
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