Every day I dread waking up to check my inbox, which is usually littered with spam, to-do lists, and other dreaded emails. Part of my routine while working from home is checking our PO box late in the morning, which is where I can usually find paychecks, product samples, and other, much more joyful items. Checking the “snail mail” box has actually been an exciting part of my day ever since I was graduating from high school and eagerly anticipating acceptance letters to colleges. Email has never carried the same amount of excitement since.
I am not alone, though the Internet has drastically made an impact on how many people are using the US Postal Service. In late 2011, the postal vice president David Williams said the postal service must respond to the reality that people are turning more to the Internet for email communications and bill payment. As a result, the Postal Service must find ways to cut $3 billion in services in 2012.
However, services such as NotesToFriends offer those who still love to send a “real” letter a way to bring joy to their friends and families’ real inboxes, while helping keep the Postal Service afloat. NotesToFriends, which launched on January 12, 2012 after a similar service, Snailmailr, went offline, allows email users the ability to send snail mail without having to use their lunch hour to go to the post office to purchase postage and securely send the mail. Users simply type in the address where the letter will be sent, along with the return address, and then type (or copy and paste in) a letter. Users can even attach a PDF, DOC, PPT, RTF, TXT, PNG, or JPEG file. SendToFriends will automatically add its logo to the letter, but for an extra 10 cents, you can have it removed.
The total cost of sending a letter with SendToFriends is $1.49, which includes the cost of printing and mailing a two-page letter. (Each page is an additional $0.20, and if you have more than 10 pages, it will cost just an additional $1 plus $0.20 per extra page.) Considering the cost of postage, paper, and ink, as well as the the time it would take you to drive to the post office, this is actually a very appealing price tag. NotesToFriends says that “There is a nostalgia associated with receiving a good ol’ fashioned letter in the mail; not a bill, not a solicitation, but a bona fide piece of communication from a family member, friend, client, or colleague. The excitement is undeniable,” but because of social networks and email, communications have become “dehumanized.” The service understands that “it just feels so good to revive, open up, and read a personalized message from someone you truly care about,” and with SendToFriends, email users can easily create this type of experience for their loved ones — without ever waiting for a letter to print, find an envelope, and then leave their home or office to go the to the post office to purchase postage and send the letter.
If you know your friends and family love receiving snail mail — and dread their inbox as much as I do — would you use a service like NotesToFriends to send them a real letter? Is the cost for the convenience worth it? Share your thoughts about this new service in the comments.