There is good news and bad news for the consumer if the postal service’s latest proposed rate hike is approved.
The bad news is that the price of postage will be going up again soon. The good news is that the postal service will be issuing a new kind of stamp that you can use forever, no matter how much rates go up in the future.
The postal service is calling the new stamp “The Forever Stamp.” It will a first-class stamp, the kind you use to mail a letter, good for the first ounce of postage.
Once you buy the Forever Stamp, you can use it at any time, now or in the future, and no matter how high the rates may rise, the stamp will still be good. The postal service hopes this will make rate changes less inconvenient for us, because it can keep us from having to rummage around looking for 2 or 3 cent stamps or having to run out to buy “make-up” stamps every time the rates change.
The purchase price of a Forever Stamp will be the price of a regular first-class stamp at the time that you buy it. The Forever Stamps are not yet available, though, and won’t be available until some time after the next rate increase goes into effect, so you won’t be able to buy them at today’s first-class-stamp price.
The rate increase will most likely take effect in May 2007, though it could be later. The price to mail a one-ounce letter will go up three cents, from 39 cents to 42 cents. The cost for additional ounces, though, would drop from 24 cents to 20 cents.
There will also be changes in the way that rates are calculated for first-class mail that is larger than letter size. “Flats” (large envelopes) and packages of certain weights, which now cost the same to mail as letters of the same weight, will cost more under the new rate system. The postal service hopes to encourage efficiency. You will be able, for example, to save some money by folding up a letter and stuffing it into a letter-sized envelope rather than mailing it flat in a big envelope.
All of this depends on whether the proposed rates receive final regulatory approval. The Postal Regulatory Commission issued its recommendations today, and now the recommendations have to be approved by the Board of Governors before becoming official.
Postal Regulatory panel to rule on rates, by Randolph E. Schmid, Feb. 26, 2007, Associated Press
Proposed Price Adjustments for Spring 2007, US Postal Service website, www.usps.com/ratecase
Other FAQs, US Postal Service website, www.usps.com/ratecase