Monday, February 26, 2007

Post Office Pitches New 'Forever' Stamp

"Here's how it would work. If the 3-cent increase takes effect next year, the forever stamp would be made available for 42 cents, the same as other first-class stamps. If the first-class rate were to rise to 45 cents in a few years, the 42-cent forever stamp would still be honored for postage on letters. Once the new price took effect, forever stamps would then sell for 45 cents."

Such a drop dead obvious idea, I first started thinking about such a thing back when postage was under 20 cents.

I was reminded of it recently when I found a bunch of unmarked "temporary" stamps that the postal service often issues when they have asked for a rate increase but it hasn't been approved. Sometimes they will put a letter ("a" or "b") on it but usually it's just a flag, or flower. The concept is that people are supposedly going through stamps so fast that a sheet of these will only last a few weeks. Not me though. I used to buy sheets, then rolls, then books as the newer technologies came into play (books for the no-lick variety for example). But then I misplace them, only to find them a year or more later. I don't think I am alone in this.

Once a few years ago I put such a stamp on an envelope and presented it in person at the counter just in case it was not sufficient. It wasn't, as the postal employee gave me a dirty look and informed me that the stamp I had used was only worth a penny. I still don't know if I believe that, but by implication, they also have issued "supplement" stamps that will make up the difference between the old rate and the new as yet undetermined) rate. I have no recollection of buying such a stamp, but maybe I did.

More recently, I did a similar thing, not wanting to get the evil eye, I told the postal employee right away that I didn't know if the stamp was worth anything near first class postage and simply wanted to buy the difference rather than throwing all such stamps I had away. (An exchange program for stamps would be nice, but I don't think any such thing exists). This employee was at least friendly about it. Said he didn't recognize the stamp. Then consulted "The Book" and couldn't find it there either. I was about to call the whole investigation off if it was too much trouble, but he went around asking all the other postal clerks if they recognized it, finally going into the back of the post office for several minutes.

Hmmm I thought, maybe this wasn't a postal stamp at all, but some free decorative thing like some charities send out. Was I about to be arrested for postal fraud? Finally he came back though, telling me I owed two cents, which I also didn't believe. If they had had to search that hard for the stamp it must have been 15 years old or something, but I payed up and didn't think much more about it. Until just now when I heard this reported on the radio.

So, congratulations US Postal Service, for demonstrating that someone within your ranks has two contiguous brain cells. You must be taking classes in "innovation" at a Microsoft training facility somewhere.

I intend to stock up on these stamps and never have to buy stamps again!

Well, unless until I lose them.

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