Lessons Learned: UPS Mailbox vs. PO Box July 07, 2016 08:00 3 Comments

Soon after starting UPstudio we realized that a permanent address would really help us for a few reasons:

  1. Privacy (not having to use our personal addresses)
  2. Having a place that customers could return items (thankfully this hasn't come up yet).
  3. With all the paperwork involved in starting a company, we wanted to keep track of which address we submitted things under. Having only one is definitely easier.
  4. With our crazy lives, things sent to our houses might get overlooked.
  5. Having an address listed on your website makes it seem more legit.
  6. Most importantly, a place that people could send us notes of encouragement! (sadly, this hasn't come up either - but you could change that!!)

Our day jobs are on Fayetteville street in downtown Raleigh so we wanted a "permanent" address we could walk to, so that checking it wasn't inconvenient.

That left us with two options, PO Box or UPS Mailbox?

So we did the research (read a lot of online sources and the fine print of the rental agreements) and decided that we wanted to go with a PO Box at the Post Office. Being a start up, the biggest factor was price. Here is a comparison (these are for the downtown Raleigh locations, so prices might be different where you live):

USPS PO Box Pricing (search for local prices here)

USPS PO Box Pricing UPstudio

UPS Mailbox Pricing (find a location near you for pricing)

UPS Box Pricing UPstudio

The small, medium, and large boxes are comparable in size to the 1, 2, and 3 sizes respectively. The UPS Mailbox is significantly more, more than 3 times.

There were a lot of other pros and cons discovered in our research, but we thought based on the price we could live with the other limitations of the PO Box. So, we signed the papers, and took a pretty picture... 

USPS PO Boxes Downtown Raleigh UPstudio

We canceled it within 3 months.... and secured a UPS Mailbox. Why you ask?

Let us share the lessons we learned and the benefits of the UPS Mailbox:

  •  After deciding on the PO Box we went through all of the UPstudio paperwork we had already filled out to change our address. We quickly noticed fine print that didn't register before "we do not accept PO Box for address", with one of those locations being our bank which was a big one, because we wanted a billing address that was consistent as well. With a UPS Box you have a physical street address rendering it acceptable to be used. Your mailbox is just identified by a suite number.
  • One of the biggest differences is how packages are handled. At the post office, if you have a package that won't fit into your box they will not hold it for you behind the counter unless it was shipped by USPS. They will not hold packages shipped by Fedex, UPS, or other carriers. They also won't hold anything that must be signed for - a big predicament. The UPS store can accept any package size and will hold it for you either in a larger holding box or behind the counter. The owner of our local UPS store said she will accept packages as large as pallet size deliveries. They will sign for your packages as well, uber convenient. They also send you an e-mail or text whenever a package has been delivered. UPS is the clear winner in the package department.
  • To continue on the package note: Being a paper/stationary type store, we were concerned that returns would get crammed into our small box therefore rending the products unusable for repurchase or that products shipped to us for resale would suffer the same fate. Our small UPS store is locally owned and operated and we were assured that they would pay close attention in hopes of avoiding this issue. So far we haven't been disappointed on this front.
  • UPS provides mail forwarding for a small additional fee. So, if our day jobs move away from downtown and our "permanent" address is no longer convenient, we can choose to have all our mail and packages forwarded to another address while still keeping our current address as a front. This way we wouldn't have to update all of our accounts or re-brand. This service is not provided by USPS for PO Boxes.
  • This one is personal preference: A street address provides your company with a bit more of a professional image when compared to a PO Box. Wilmington Street is a prominent downtown Raleigh street, so it only helps our legitimacy. 
  • At the Post Office the PO Box lobby hours are limited to 6am-5:30pm M-F, and 6am-12pm on Saturdays. The UPS store hours are 8:30am-6:30pm M-F, and 10am-2pm on Saturdays. The later hours of the UPS store are more convenient with our routines. But here is the kicker, you have the option at the UPS store to pay a one time $25 fee to get a 24 hour access fob. 
  • If you are a AAA member most UPS stores provide a discount on certain mailbox packages, so make sure to ask.
  • Think about what your company name is, or who you will be getting mail sent to - for us at UPstudio, there has been confusion at times with the first three letters of our name being 'UPs', where our mail was accidentally opened by UPS employees.  This was resolved after some clarification and more careful reading before opening anything.
  • One last thing, if you make the same mistake we did and snag a PO Box prior to understanding all of the limitations, USPS has a refund policy:
PO Box Refund Policy UPstudio

 

When we were doing our research there were many mixed reviews and a lot of grey area and unanswered questions. We decided to take the risk due to the price and see how it actually turned out. In the end, it wasn't he best decision we made, but since we tried the cheaper option first we weren't out a lot of money. Hopefully the lessons we learned will be helpful to you and your company.

If you want to send us some snail mail, you can reach us at:

UPstudio
324 S. Wilmington Street
Suite 226
Raleigh, NC 27601

(so professional and legit sounding, right?)

Not as pretty, but definitely more equipped to handle our needs...

UPS Box Downtown Raleigh UPstudio

So, this was basically all a ploy to get our first letter of encouragement, can you tell? Were we too subtle?