Digital Postal Mail / Zumbox Review

Digital Post Mail, formerly just known as Zumbox, is a service that tries to turn all your physical mail into digital format. Hat tip to reader Christina. My first reaction was that it seems very similar to Manilla.com. According to TechCrunch, Digital Post Mail has been around for a few years and just received another round of venture capital.

I signed up for the service, and since I already did a detailed review of Manilla, I’ll just share what I see as the main differences between Manilla and and Zumbox:

Zumbox allows you to keep getting both physical and digital mail concurrently. When you link a new provider on Zumbox, you will get a digital version of your mail but your snail mail will keep coming. You can opt-in to go paperless if you want, but it’s not required. With Manilla, once you start accepting paperless bills they will automatically convert you to digital-only (they store everything online so you can still print out the bills if you wish). For both services, they make money by charging a small fee to the provider as they save money on printing and mailing things to you.

Currently, Manilla has more providers available to their service. Zumbox seems to have added many of the major providers (Citi, Chase, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast), but not as many as Manilla. For example, Manilla has State Farm Insurance and my local electric company, and Zumbox does not. Hopefully, the gap will narrow quickly.

Zumbox confirms your mailing address by sending you a verification code via snail mail. Manilla does not, relying only on online logins and passwords. By doing this, Zumbox is able to match your address with all the other organizations that have you on their mailings list, including things like charities and catalog providers. I haven’t finished this process yet, but it’ll be interesting to see what they match me up with and if I can cut down on the junk mail (sorry USPS!).

Comments

  1. What I’d really like is a PO box service that opens (with my permission) and scans all incoming mail, and OCRs the return addresses. Even better if they had a check-cutting service or payment processing ties like these two companies do. That way I could really treat my snail mail like it was email.

  2. Interesting. I already get all of my bills electronically through my bank. The only things we still receive in the mailbox are catalogs, junk mail, and lots of credit card offers. We get the occasional birthday card or financial/legal document too, I guess.

  3. @Andy, i did some digging as i find this interesting as well. I too am paperless on everything possible. the main advantage i see to digital postal mail, is that i can go there to receive all my docs and i don’t have to log into each individual site. logging in to my 17 different billers is the bane of my existance, seems like these guys are making it easier.
    also, i found a press release that says they will soon be allowing users to go paperless with catalogues (junk mail) etc. i cant wait for the day when i don’t have to check my mailbox…its about friggen time huh

  4. Don:
    I don’t log in to multiple accounts. BoA recognizes when I enter a payee in their online billpay if a company will allow me to sign up for e-bills (most major financial and utility vendors do). Once I have signed up my monthly bill pops up when I log in to my BoA online banking and I just schedule payment for the day before the bill is due with online bill pay. No bills in the mail, no writing checks. It’s the post office’s worst nightmare.

  5. W:
    your problems are solved (kinda). See Earth class mail. you re-route all your mail to them, they scan and email to you. only issue is the cost (i think around $20/month), and due to their buisness model, i hear their not doing so hot/possibly going under soon.

  6. Peter at Savings Bond says:

    Zumbox has been around for more than 3 years and originally was selling itself as a clearinghouse for bills. The thing is that I’ve started doing a lot of electronic billing through the bank which is pretty darn convenient and doesn’t require an additional Zumbox account. The other problem I find is that I often want stuff that comes through the mail (minus spam), including post cards, birthday cards, congratulations cards etc, where the physical form is more important than the information. In fact, my mailbox is slowly becoming like that, things that need to be physically delivered, and other types of mail are slowly turning electronic through the various companies naturally.

  7. Thanks to Jonathan’s posts, I’ve checked out both Manilla and Zumbox as options to assist in going paperless. A few observations that Jonathan hasn’t mentioned, in case there’s interest:

    * Non-Windows users (both Mac and Linux) may have gotten used to avoiding Adobe Acrobat and its browser plugin, as this is not the default, and also the alternative software provided allows you to view most PDFs without some of the virus risks that may exist with Reader. Well, Manilla lets its users stay in that non-AcroReader world by simply downloading PDF files, but Zumbox requires the plugin to view the mail within the browser. After reluctantly adding Acrobat Reader to Fedora, most of my Zumbux mail loads fine, but for some reason a statement from American Express still refuses to display. Not sure if this is an isolated incident or a persistent problem.

    * Zumbox is clearly focusing on being “Digital Postal Mail” with the individual statements even represented by envelopes with stamped dates. (Cool!) Manilla offers similar functionality on a “Documents” tab, but then also provides what I would describe as a weak version of Yodlee Moneycenter’s Dashboard on an “Accounts” tab. If I didn’t already use Yodlee, I’d probably think it was a handy feature, but I have so many accounts that the display on Manilla really appears cluttered compared to Yodlee. Zumbox, on the other hand, doesn’t attempt to display account info – just the mail.

    * My experience supports Jonathan’s conclusion above that Manilla offers to provide PDF statements for more accounts. Manilla handled PDFs for both Verizon home and Verizon Wireless, while Zumbox only handled the latter. Both handled American Express PDFs, but only Manilla handled Discover. Neither maintains PDF statements for Chase currently. One edge that Zumbox did have is they had my local electric company (PEPCO) where Manilla would only track my balance but not maintain PDF statements for that account.

Speak Your Mind

*