postal system

Sending postcards from your iPhone with ShootIt

Using your own photos as postcards? Genius! Shame ShootIt's service doesn't work...

There are a few providers who offer the ability of sending postcards directly from your Apple iPhone (or the web) when you're out and about. I decided to give ShootIt a shot (forgive the pun), because their app seemed particularly sleek, and because I'm currently travelling a lot; seemed to make a lot of sense to trust the web to get my cards sent quickly, rather than relying on the local postal system.

ShootIt ( have a clever business model: You upload an image via the iPhone app or their website, write your message, and click 'send'. They take care of the rest, including the printing of the postcard, and, as they say on their website, "shoot it! mails postcards First-class the next business day", which means "they will be produced overnight and delivered across Western Europe in just a few days".

Tragedy strikes

Whilst I was travelling, my family suffered a minor tragedy - my grandmother, who turned 90 last year, got ill, and it didn't look as if she would be able to pull through. My father asked me if I would please send a few postcards from my travels, as grandma - who usually was very active - would be locked to her chair and/or bed for the foreseeable future (in retrospect; for the rest of her life).

Anyway, I figured that the best way to start sending a lot of cards would be to leverage ShootIt: By taking photos and sending postcards frequently, they would arrive much, much faster than sending them by snail mail, right? So there I went, sending a total of 5 post-cards between February 1st and 18th.

Then, an inevitable, yet sad sad thing happened; on the 21th of February, my grandmother passed away. I called my parents, and asked them if they could please place my postcards on her coffin during the funeral. "Postcards?", my dad asked me. "What postcards?". It turned out that by the 21st of February, not a single one of the postcards I sent via ShootIt had arrived. Luckily a postcard I sent in the regular (notoriously unreliable) vietnamese postal system around the 4th of February, arrived just in time for the funeral, and I was able to 'be present' via a postcard after all.

"The postcards were all addressed perfectly", I thought, "Why the hell weren't they delivered?". Then, Daniela (who edits the Small Aperture site) e-mailed me to thank me for her ShootIt postcard... on the 11th of March. It was sent on the 4th of February - so the postcard took a mind-numbingly month-and-a-week to arrive to the UK.

As for what happened to the postcards sent to my grandmother in the Netherlands? Who knows - as far as I know, they're still scurrying their way across the atlantic.

ShootIt? More like 'shove it'.

It's such a cursed shame; post-cards sent from your iPhone (or computer) is cost-effective, and ought to be bloody fast. But when it ain't (and especially since none of the messages I wrote to my grandmother arrived before she passed away), it's useless.

If anyone knows of a service who does what they promise, it may be worth a shot - but I'd give ShootIt a miss, if I were you.

Update #1

I just received an e-mail from my mother, who tells me that 5 postcards arrived all at the same time on the 17th of March. She tells me the quality is great, but notes that " This is sort of like it used to be many years ago: You buy the postcards in the country where you are on holiday, forget to post them, and then send them when you get back home, with your normal stamps. Although that would probably have been faster than using the online service".

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