November 7, 2005

Stamp of Disapproval

Posted in General at 7:03 pm by Ian

Every few years the USPS decides that it’s time to raise the prices on stamps by a few cents. And, so what? Inflation is expected, and it really shouldn’t be a big deal.

Except that it is. For months surrounding the change, you have to go get those stupid 3-cent stamps and put two stamps on everything you send. The lines are always longer at the Post Office because of this, finding stamps in the right denomination is a hassle, and, years later, when you can’t find any current stamps and have to send a 2 oz. envelope, you are stuck trying to figure out the most efficient use of 1 34-cent stamp from 1997, 2 13-cent postcard stamps from 1978, 17 4-cent stamps from the last changeover, and an Airmail stamp, which you think is worth around $1.70, but you’re not sure.

This needless waste and mental turmoil tends us all toward early graves, I’m convinced.

On the other hand, along with the 2-cent stamps sold during the changeover, there are stamps sold that just say “First Class” on them. I assume that they have those in reserve for the time they need to ramp up the printing presses to put Elmer Fudd on the stamps with a new value.

But why not just sell those stamps all the time?! Why not just sell “First Class” stamps at whatever the prevailing rate is? No need to change the printing plates every few years. No excessive advertising budget to alert the populace to the fact that stamps are now 4% more expensive. No hassle trying to collect 4 cents of postage due. No absurd(er) lines at the PO for adjustment stamps.

Obviously, they already have the stamps. They can put Elmer Fudd on them, too. I can’t be the first person who’s thought of this, can I? How has it never been implemented?



  1. Adam said,

    Is this a random rant or is the Post Office raising stamp prices again? And that does make sense… with the only exception that someone could “invest” in stamps by purchassing $1 million worth of stamps at the current rate, wait 10 years, and resell them at 2 cents under the current rate. That’s probably why it hasn’t been done.

  2. Ian said,

    The rate is apparently going up again in the next few years.

    That’s probably the worst investment you could make. I doubt that stamps even keep up with inflation.

    And, for those ten years, the Post Office would have $1 million. They could invest in T-bills and come out ahead, even ignoring the savings they get from not paying extra help $18/hr to sell 30 cents worth of 3 cent stamps to people for a few months.

  3. Philip said,

    Hey, it could be worse. At least they wait until there is a 3 cent increase. They could just up it by 1 cent and do it 3 times as often.

  4. Adam said,

    Ok, so it’s a bad idea… but there has to be some reason. Maybe so that you can use first class postage on international mail and know how many to put on it? Who knows.

  5. Ian said,

    there has to be some reason

    Assertion not in evidence.

  6. Matt said,

    Going up in the next few years, but I can still mail my rent check tomorrow with the stamps I have, right?

  7. Katie said,

    Well, considering I bought stamps at the post office yesterday of the 37 cent variety, I would assume we’re safe for a while longer using those. And, although I have to say that the 3 cent stamps etc. are annoying, they’re good for postcard stamps, so they can usually come in handy even after the switch has been made and all the stamps are the same value.

  8. Patrick said,

    Arguments are fair enough. But the issue is that with “First Class” postage, they are apparently attached to the postage rate from when they were printed. I found this out last week when I went to send thank you cards from a campaign I was working on. I had stumbled across a pile of First Class postage from…maybe 1998…and thought I’d cheat the Post office out of their 7 cents.
    Several days later I received those envelopes in my mailbox, stamped with Insufficient Postage. So I went out to get new envelopes, and new stamps. On the plus side, the one I forgot to put postage on was for one of my roomates…same To address as Return Address…and got that sucker sent for free.

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