The sale of stamps and related products are a core Postal Service business. The Postal Service prints billions of commemorative and definitive stamps annually to enable customers to mail pre-paid domestic and international mail and to also encourage stamp collecting. Given the traditional importance of stamps to the Postal Service, it is vital that the process by which stamps are distributed to customers be both timely and secure.
Stamp Distribution Centers (SDCs) issue stamps to thousands of Post Offices, postal stores, and contract stations (sites under contract to the Postal Service typically located in retail establishments) nationwide. Not only do the SDCs distribute all accountable stamp items (stamps, coils, envelopes, and postcards), but they also accept obsolete and redeemed stock for destruction. During fiscal year 2010, the Postal Service consolidated its existing stamp distribution network into six SDCs. The goal of this consolidation was to standardize and automate work processes, reduce space requirements, improve transportation, and reduce stamp destruction costs.
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) ushered in a new regulatory structure for the U.S. Postal Service. One key element was a price cap on market dominant products. (Most of the Postal Service’s products are market dominant.) This means that price increases for market dominant products are capped by the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). PAEA, however, does allow the Postal Service to increase its prices beyond the CPI cap under “extraordinary and exceptional circumstances.” The Postal Service makes the exception by filing an ‘exigent’ rate case to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Before the Postal Service can increase prices, the PRC must agree with the ‘exigent’ request and find it to be reasonable, equitable, and necessary.Read More
For decades, the Postal Service offered vending machine service to supplement its retail operations. Vending machines meet the needs of customers who want to purchase stamps without waiting in line.
While the lack of stamp vending machines has resulted in customer frustration and a surprising number of newspaper articles, the problems are particularly acute in economically depressed and more urban areas. Although Automated Postal Centers (APCs) provide many services including the sale of stamps and directly applied postage for First-Class letters, APCs require credit cards, which people in economically depressed areas often do not have. In addition, some customers find APCs to be intimidating to use. Finally, APCs sell only booklets of stamps or individual stamps in denominations of $1 or more, yet many disadvantaged customers may want to buy just one First-Class Mail stamp.Read More
How much does it cost to develop, print, ship, inventory, secure, sell, and cancel a stamp used to mail a letter? What about the stamps that are never sold? The Postal Service destroys billions of stamps each year because they are obsolete. In FY 2008, the Postal Service printed 37 billion stamps, which cost $78 million to print. In that same year, they destroyed old stamps, some of which were printed more than 10 years ago, that were valued at approximately $2.8 billion. Those stamps were printed, shipped, counted multiple times in various inventories, and finally shipped back for destruction under secure conditions. How much does this cost and does the Postal Service benefit from the expense?Read More
Last Monday was predicted to be the busiest day of the year for Post Offices™ across the country. Have you visited a Post Office recently? If so, we would like to hear your story.
Why were you there? What worked well? What didn’t work well?
Has your local Post Office adopted any best practices that should spread across the country? Are there any low-cost improvements that would improve the retail experience?Read More