It's never easy to write about, and draw attention to, your own mistakes. That's especially true when realization hits that many others already know enough to avoid the pitfall that ensnared you. Still, maybe I'm not the only jackass here and maybe this will help somebody. I sincerely hope so:
It's often helpful to time deposits. This is because, especially with CD money, you earn interest from day of deposit when, for example, opening a new CD account. I always try to earn double interest for a few days on my funds by timing my deposit to arrive on a Friday or, even better, on the last business day before an extended holiday period. Another reason to time a new CD deposit is avoidance of an unwanted maturity day. And in fact, oftentimes you can kill two birds with one stone through precise timing of the deposit. To cause funds to arrive on a specific day I use the overnight mail services, of which there are three: Fedex, UPS, and USPS Express Mail. Since Express Mail is cheaper I used to prefer it, but no longer. Here is the story:
It makes no difference how you address the Express mail item. Upon arrival at the destination post office, if your addressee has a PO Box, there is a real danger your "overnight" letter will simply be placed into the addressee's PO Box. If your addressee has already picked up mail for that day, your "overnight" letter will sit in that PO box until the next pickup of mail by your addressee. Thus, USPS Express mail, when a PO box is available, does not always accomplish next day delivery.
What happened to me is exactly what I've already explained. I addressed my "overnight" letter to the financial institution's street address, but it went straight into their PO box. When I protested to the USPS that my "overnight" letter was never even delivered, which it was not, and demanded a refund of their nearly $19 charge, the USPS told me my item had been delivered timely according to their rules. Bottom line I lost a good bit of money on the matter, circa $100 in all. I will not be using the USPS "Express" mail service again when opening a new CD.
Couple of things my investigation revealed:
The post office that screwed me was following postal regulations to the letter. Many post offices don't. It varies with the individual post office. Some postmasters will break their backs to ensure overnight delivery of Express Mail items. These individuals understand that delivery to a PO box of a letter addressed to a street address (physical address) is not really delivery. And they understand they have competition from Fedex and UPS. They also are aware they are violating postal regulations . . . they just don't care. They care more about their customers than asinine USPS rules.
Full disclosure: I had used Express mail successfully in the past when opening new CD accounts and made nice money in the process. Unknown to me, the receiving post offices were breaking postal rules and delivering my items on a next day basis. When I recently ran into a post office that followed the rules it really caught me off guard, cost me money, and motivated me to find out what was going on.
My advice, if you are trying to time deposits as I do, is to spend the extra money and use Fedex or UPS. Either should work for you because with neither service is there the threat of PO box delivery. Of course Fedex and UPS overnight delivery services cost more, so:
An alternative, if you want to risk Express mail, is to telephone the destination post office, speak with the postmaster, and inquire as to his or her local policy. This is really the only way you can find out what will happen to your Express mail item upon arrival.
And finally, even if the financial institution where you're opening your CD has no PO box (sadly most do), that's still no guarantee of next day delivery if you use Express mail. If there is no carrier available, the post office will sometimes not deliver even Express mail items until the following day, on their regular rounds. This obviously does not work when you are trying to time a deposit for, say, a Friday by mailing on Thursday. The deposit ends up instead being delivered on the following Monday and you earn only a single day of double interest instead of three.