As owner of the Pocket Letter Pals™ Network and the Pocket Letter Pals™ Facebook group, I’ve had the opportunity to mediate a lot of failed swaps. Like. Heaps and heaps! (I also want to take the opportunity to thank my Admins who also mediate and try to resolve these issues even moreso! Thank you!) It’s a fact, there are people who flake. They arrange swaps and then don’t follow through. It happens and I’m really sorry about it. I wish it didn’t happen, but it does. Now I know it’s hard to believe, but the majority of the time, it’s not intentional. There are snail mail scam artists, but those make up a small percentage of failed swaps. People usually flake for one of the following reasons:
1. Overwhelmed with the amount of swaps they’ve taken on.
2. Lack of communication.
3. Unexpected emergency.
4. Lost their penpal’s contact information (usually because of 1).
5. Lack of funds.
I can’t guarantee a 100% foolproof method for successful swaps, but I can share 5 HELPFUL TIPS for a smoother swapping experience!
GET CONTACT INFORMATION
I’ve run into many situations where one swap partner forgot to write down who they were swapping with and where they arranged the swap. It can get overwhelming especially if you’re swapping with multiple people at one time and reaching out across platforms. Some swap only on my network, others swap on Instagram… Regardless, WRITE IT DOWN. Get names and email address. Better yet, get my Pocket Letters™ TrackerPrintable! It’ll help you organize all the details of your swap.
It’s important to COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. You need to be willing to discuss details of your pocket mail swap so that everyone is on the same page. Here’s some questions to ask: Will this be a one-time swap? Will there be a deadline? Will your letter have goodies? Will there be a theme? When will the “send-by” deadline be? Use the FREE POCKET LETTER COMMUNICATION GUIDE (click link to download) to make your swap go smoothly, and if there’s something you’re concerned about, like allergies, please mention it to your Pal. Once communication breaks down, it’s a good indicator of what’s to come—a bad swap. Also remember to be open and flexible to themes, styles, and ideas. There are some who have used the POCKET LETTER COMMUNICATION GUIDE as a “LET ME COMMUNICATE MY DEMANDS” GUIDE. Being communicative does't mean you have to be mean. Be cool guys! Be cool!
CHECK YOUR PAL’S SWAP HISTORY
Sometimes it’s best to do a little research! I’m not talking about full on Facebook, social media-stalking. I’m talking about searching through profile and group history for swap confirmation! If you’re on the Pocket Letter Pals™ network, go to your potential Pal’s page and look at their profile. Are there messages from past swap partners thanking them for their fulfilled swaps? Are there pictures of their creations (both incoming and outgoing letters)? The same goes for the Pocket Letter Pals™ Facebook group. Search the group history by putting your partner’s name in the Search box. Are others posting that they’ve received their snail mail? Are they active group participants? Are they arranging too many swaps? (This can be a RED flag!) These searches can be so telling!
I want to say that half of late swaps are due to delivery services. So much can go wrong with your letter in transit (insufficient postage, s l o w service, illegible handwritten address, and inclement weather) I’m serious. Sending something via mail can be risky business. I’ve had a few letters get mangled in sorting machines only to get the pieces returned to me in a sandwich bag. It happens. So just keep that in mind. Also remember that LIFE HAPPENS. People get sick. Sometimes they even forget about a deadline without any sort of malicious intent. Some people are naturally forgetful. Like ME! If your partner communicates a setback (within reason), then just wait it out. Be patient. It will most likely work out!
This option does not work with international mail, but you can definitely get tracking information and confirmation for domestic deliveries. This helps for multiple reasons. Mainly, if someone reports a member for a failed swap, they can prove it by showing that a letter was sent and delivered. A lot of times the person reported will say that they never received anything. Tracking helps clear up any confusion quickly!
I’ve had my share of failed swap experiences. Trust me. However, the good experiences BY FAR outweigh the bad ones!
I hope these tips were helpful! You can always share your tips too! And also please don’t forget to check out my Pocket Letters™ Tracker! It helps! Plus when you make your purchase, the file is yours to keep and print (as many copies as you need)!