Monday, May 11, 2009

Postage Rates

The U.S. Post Office is raising the rates on stamps today

From the AP...

Peel 'em and weep: First-class stamps rise 2 cents

Despite rate rise, cost-cutting, Postal Service could run out of money by year's end

* Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press Writer
* On Monday May 11, 2009, 5:12 am EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The post office wants two more pennies for your thoughts. The price of a first-class stamp for mailing a letter -- or paying a bill -- climbed to 44 cents Monday, though folks who planned ahead and stocked up on Forever stamps will still be paying the lower rate.

It's the third straight year rates have gone up in May under a new system that allows annual increases as long as they don't exceed the rate of inflation for the year before.

While the increase will bring in added income, the post office continues to struggle financially as more and more lucrative first-class mail is diverted to the Internet, and the recession discourages businesses from sending their usual volume of advertising.

The Postal Service, which does not get a taxpayer subsidy for its operations, lost $2.8 billion last year and is already $2.3 billion in the hole just halfway through this year.

Postmaster General John Potter has asked Congress for permission to reduce mail delivery to five days a week. The agency is offering early retirement to workers, consolidating excess capacity in mail processing and transportation networks, realigning carrier routes, halting construction of new postal facilities, freezing officer and executive salaries at 2008 pay levels and reducing travel budgets.

Even so, the rate increase is unlikely to cover the ongoing losses and the possibility remains that the post office could run out of money before the end of the fiscal year.

The post office could have cited extraordinary circumstances and asked the independent Postal Regulatory Commission for larger increases, but officials worried that would only result in a greater decline in mail volume and worse losses.

Potter has also urged congressional changes in how the post office prepays for retiree health care, to cut its annual costs by $2 billion.

While the new 44-cent rate covers the first ounce of first-class mail, the price for each additional ounce will remain unchanged at 17-cents.

Postal officials estimate the increase will cost the average household $3-a-year.

Other changes taking effect May 11:

-- The postcard stamp increases 1 cent to 28 cents.

-- The first ounce of a large envelope increases 5 cents to 88 cents.

-- The first ounce of a parcel increases 5 cents to $1.22.

-- New international postcard and letter prices are, for one ounce, 75 cents to Canada; 79 cents to Mexico; and 98 cents elsewhere.

Most Postal Service shipping services prices were adjusted in January and will not change in May.

I just find it amazing that they think a larger price increase would result in an appreciable decrease in volume. I trust them, certainly, since I seriously doubt they would say that otherwise, but still. It's FORTY FOUR cents, people! That's not a lot of money.

I think the American post office is a wonder of the modern world. It redefined how mail was delivered lifetimes ago, and remains, as far as I know, the most efficient postal service on the planet (not counting package services).

I want the postal service to be profitable, because I think it can be. They provide an excellent service with excellent reliability. Please, don't screw around. Raise the price more. Raise it to a full fifty cents! Forget this limp-dicked price increase of TWO cents. What's two cents going to do? Nothing, that's what.

If you're terribly frightened of losing customers, start offering second and third-class stamps again. They were once offered commonly before first-class became laughably default. All you have to do is find a away to offer more and you can increase prices greatly. The status quo is obviously broken. With the advent of e-mail, sending rote information is no longer neccessary of the postal service.

  • Raise first class stamps to fifty cents or more

  • Reintroduce Second and Third Class stamps, don't restrict those classes to magazines and whatnot.

  • Allow people to buy stamps for different speeds. A stamp for overnight, 2-day, etc.

  • Sell postage, not stamps. All stamps are forever stamps.

  • Streamline shipping with easy tool sets for people to ready and print postage at home.

Just do it!

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