I think it was on a recent episode of Call to Auction that the hosts discussed the fact that a lot of players don’t understand how the COD mail system works, and therefore they are afraid to use it. (By the way, Call to Auction is fantastic — I’m so glad they are back and I really hope they stick around and keep the ‘casts coming).
I’ve noticed this as well. I don’t generally buy or sell in trade but occasionally I do respond to people selling things there. And if I suggest a COD more often than not the person doesn’t want to do it. Even though we’ve been playing the game a long time, some things have changed over time and we forget the details. So I thought I’d provide a quick overview/review of the mail system basics, including how COD works.
In-Game Mail Basics
The exact size of your mail box “behind the scenes” is unknown outside of Blizzard best I can tell. However many pieces of mail you have, a maximum of 50 are displayed at a time. To see messages beyond the first 50, you have to remove (read and delete) some of the first 50 to make room, and re-open or refresh the mail box.
Unlike a lot of mail systems outside the game, you do not retain a copy of mail you send. (There is no “sent items”). There is also no way to recover deleted mail. The system is designed for mail to serve its purpose and be removed promptly thereafter.
Mail Expiration Times
- Normal mail expires in 30 days, after which the message is deleted
- Mail with attachments expires in 30 day, after which the items are returned to the sender
- COD messages expire in 3 days if not paid for, after which the items are returned to the sender
- Returned messages and items will expire from the original sender’s mail after 30 days and be deleted. (In other words, they will not bounce back and forth.)
- Text only messages with no attachments arrive immediately
- Mail sent to a character on the same account as the sending character will arrive immediately
- Any mail, including those with attachments or money, sent between characters in the same guild will arrive immediately if the guild has the guild mail perk, awarded at guild level 17.
- Without the guild mail perk, mail sent to a character on a different account from the sending character with items or money attached will take one hour to arrive.
- Items purchased from the auction house arrive immediately in the buyers mail.
- Money received from the auction house to the seller of an item takes one hour to arrive.
- Returned mail arrives immediately
- Money received from COD sales arrives immediately.
Cash on Delivery (CODs)
When you send mail with items attached, you have the option to require the mail recipient to pay an amount of gold for the items by selecting the COD check-box and entering the cost of the item or items. You enter one total amount for all the items attached to the mail.
When a mail recipient opens the COD mail and attempts to take any of the attached items they will get a dialogue box asking them if they agree to pay. If they do, the money will automatically be withdrawn from their gold total and sent to the sender/seller.
CODs are convenient for many uses. Not only can you buy something from a seller in trade without either person traveling, you also don’t pay any auction house deposits or fees. You can set up an ongoing deal with a materials farmer to send you everything they farm for a set price, and then not even be online at the same time. And in conjunction with the guild mail perk, it’s a very convenient way to do business with guild mates since the mail is delivered immediately.
In the past there were issues with CODs being used in gold scams or for other under-handed purposes. I’d rather not outline the tactics here. But there have been changes made that make it pretty hard to take advantage with someone using COD. As a seller you can be assured that you will either receive payment for your items or you will receive the items back within 3 days. And as a buyer, you need to carefully review what is attached to the mail and what price the seller input before you accept the item — that dialogue box appears for your protection, so use it and don’t just click blindly!