WASHINGTON, DC -
The price of a first class stamp, which rose from 45 cents to 46 cents one year ago, is going up again. This time the hike will be to 49 cents a stamp -- more than a six percent rise.
Sending post cards and packages will also cost more in the near future.
The U.S. Postal Service has been losing large amounts of money for years. Managers have tried (but failed) to convince Congress to cancel Saturday deliveries of first class mail. The USPS has also been tasked with pre-funding its retirement plans -- a most unusual requirement. The recession also significantly cut volume, and so has the tremendous rise of internet communication.
This was our conversation with a 26-year-old man, Kamal Mohamed, whom we encountered in the main post office in Falls Church, Va. on Saturday: "I send everything by email... BUT YOU'RE HERE, YOU'RE BUYING STAMPS? ...I'm just returning something that I bought online. A PACKAGE? A package, yeah, and just returning it... SO YOU DON'T USE MANY LETTERS? Uh, probably when I was applying to college. That was the last time, the last time I did it, yeah."
On Christmas Eve, the Postal Regulatory Commission voted to hike the cost of sending letters, magazines, and packages by about six percent, starting in late January. Business groups are howling over the above-inflation increases.
What do ordinary users of "snail mail" think about paying 49 cents a stamp vs. the current 46 cents? Alice Mandanis, a retired college professor, told us, "I like to write personal letters. I like to pay my bills at home. I'm not sure about putting everything online. SO, YOU'LL STICK WITH REGULAR MAIL? I probably will."
Postal customer Leila Bendeck agreed: "I think it's nice to get Thank You cards and notes in the mail from time to time, so I like to try to send those. WILL YOU CONTINUE USING THE MAIL AT 49 CENTS A POP (FOR A FIRST CLASS LETTER)? Yes."
Larry Berman told us he completely understands the need to raise postal rates: "I think [the Postal Service is] efficient. They need to stay in business. [And] the workers need to get their health care paid."
Ben James pays almost all family bills electronically. When James was told that package shipping costs via the USPS were going up by six percent, he responded with, "That'll affect me at Christmas. (laughter) WHAT WILL YOU DO? Um, I'll pay it. Things need to get shipped."
The new, higher postal rates go into effect January 26th. We observed some customers who had heard about the coming rate hike stocking up on "forever" first class stamps.
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