A full-timing couple we know spends the bulk if their time in Arizona. Come summer, the northern climate is a bit more conducive to their needs. They need mail service on "both ends," and for them, mail forwarding is a necessary evil. So which service to rely on? This little story may hold an answer.
Here's where it can get sticky. Let's call it the case of the real snail mail. On leaving Arizona, Carl filed a "temporary change of address," with the Postal Service, asking for the family mail to be forwarded to their Washington address. That was in mid-July. After several weeks of checking the private service in Washington, finally, a single letter came through -- originally mailed in Southern California on July 25. It took four days shy of a month for a first class letter to make its way from California to the Washington address.
Thinking this a bit odd, Carl called the Postal Service to inquire. A half-hour of frustration and wait time later, Carl was told that the service's toll-free customer service people couldn't even find a forwarding order on file. Carl called back to the local post office in Arizona -- they found the order, and as far as they could tell, everything was A-OK. If you consider waiting A month for your mail, well, OK.
The couple has had the same private mail forwarding service in Washington for years, and with one or two minor exceptions, they've had their mail forwarded to them quickly and reliably. A phone call to the outfit, a minute or two on the phone, and their mail wings to them wherever they need it. Yes, they have to pay postage to have the mail forwarded to them -- that's courtesy of a government directive -- but like they say in the credit card commercial: "Six months mail box rental, $45. Postage for forwarding a week's mail, $3.50. Knowing where your checks and bills are, priceless."