Monday, November 06, 2006

Mail - snail, pouch and e

We were very concerned about mail delivery before we came to Bangkok. We get a lot of financial mail… bills and such with account numbers on them and we felt that an enterprising crook could gain access to some important information if we didn’t get our mail handled properly. I think we might have been right. We haven’t had any problems, but we have seen plenty of indications that problems could occur.

We have only received a couple of paper mail pieces in Bangkok mail. Both have been greeting cards from family members, and both had been opened. One had been opened very cleanly as if it was steamed open. The other was less artistic and more of a brute force effort. I am reasonably certain that someone along the long chain of mail handlers was hoping for some cash. Lesson – don’t send cash in the mail.

Solutions – pouch mail:
Many companies provide “pouch mail” for their ex-pats. In these systems, your US mail is sent to a central address in the US by regular USPS. Then a company mail room sorts it all and packages into “pouches” to be sent directly to the employee at their overseas office. We haven’t had too many problems with pouch mail, but we have had a few.

We have received almost none of our magazine subscriptions. We did get my motorcycle mag, but Brenda’s chic mags are almost all missing in action. What does this mean? Is there a guy in the mailroom that understands how important it is to get good quality Harley-Davidson information while abroad? Or is it a chic that doesn’t care to steal my mags, but latches onto Brenda’s like a crab trying to avoid the boiling pot? And what’s the big deal on magazines anyway? First, we paid for them, they are ours and we want them. Second, US magazines over here are phaeng jangloey (sooooo expensive) and difficult to replace.

We have also had some mail ripped open in the pouch mail system. It’s hard to say whether or not it was opened on purpose or not, but it was opened to an extent that would have allowed it to be extracted and read.

Pouch mail takes a long time too. About the same as mail sent to our BKK address. Both seem to take an average of ten days. One package sent by a friend took 21 days to reach us by pouch mail. I figure it would never have gotten here by regular mail.

Solutions - E-mail
So what do you do about all this if you are coming to live here. Well, here is what I did. I converted ALLLLLLLLLLLLL of our financial accounts and bills to electronic delivery. I get NOTHING related to finances in BKK. Not by pouch mail, Not by regular mail. Just plain old NOT AT ALL. I also send nothing financial out of BKK via mail of any sort. It all goes electronically via internet. That makes the internet very important here. Luckily, our internet is pretty reliable and pretty fast. I have heard no complaints from any ex-pat about internet so I guess it’s pretty good all over the city.

I also forwarded any mail that could be sensitive to a trusted relative. The quantity of this mail is small because most sensitive stuff has been converted to electronic and not duplicated on paper mail. So now, about once a week I get a note from my family that we got some sort of envelope and do we want them to open it. Most of the time it is something that I know about and I know what is in it because I have already gotten an electronic message about it. But sometimes it is something I don’t expect and I get them to open it and tell me what is in it. Every now and then, I have to get them to send it to me in pouch mail, but when that happens, I ask them to reinforce it with good packing tape so it will be harder to “accidentally” open while in transit.

That’s our mail situation. Feel free to send a letter. Don’t get anxious for a response because I won’t see it for awhile. But don’t send cash. You can just buy me something nice next time you see me instead.


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