Postage Goes Up -- Yet Again

Posted on March 19, 2007

U.S. Postal Rates are going up once again. On May 14, 2007, the rate for a letter will go to forty-one cents. Which is outrageous, if you ask us. The postal service will also offer a "forever stamp" which will be good forever, even if the rates continue to go up (which they will, rest assured). The forever stamp could arrive as early as next month.

The first forever stamps will sell for 41 cents apiece, but they won't have a price printed on them and they will remain valid for sending a letter regardless of any future rate increases. While a forever stamp will always be valid for mailing a latter, that doesn't mean the price won't go up. If rates were to increase to 45 cents, for example, that's what a forever stamp would sell for. But stamps already purchased at a lower rate could still be used without adding extra postage.

Miller said in a telephone interview that there is no limit on sales of the forever stamps but noted they are generally intended for consumers and won't be produced in the massive rolls often used by businesses.

Shape-based pricing is also included in the new rates. For example, if the contents of a First-class large envelope are folded and placed in a letter-sized envelope, mailers can reduce postage by as much as 39 cents per piece.

Implementation of one part of the new rates was delayed until July 15. That covers higher prices for magazines and newspapers. Miller said publishers need extra time to update their computers to the new rates.

As is usual with regulations from the postal service, the Forever Stamp rules are clear as mud. So, will we be seeing hoarded 41 cent Forever Stamps for sale on eBay in large rolls, just as soon as the rates go to 45 cents? Raising the cost of a letter to 41 cents is unnecessary and is a burden to consumers, businesses and -- of course -- writers. It's time for someone to take a look at the economics of the postal service, as several consumer groups are suggesting.

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