Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Unanswered Questions

This isn't exactly about editing and I, admittedly, have more than a passing interest in postal rate rises but a couple of things caught my eye about the AP and other stories that describe the increases scheduled to go into effect May 14:

First, the "forever stamp". Isn't that raising money now at the expense of future postal service operations? You can buy a first-class stamp now for 41 cents and it will never change, USPS says--you can use that stamp any time in the future without paying extra. The stories I've seen seem to be caught up in the amusement of this "forever" concept, not asking real questions.

The second is this bit of information appearing in USA Today, showing a huge increase, relatively speaking, in media mail rates, those used by most eBay or Amazon sellers. But the banks get a decrease. As do wedding invitations. Odd, that.

There are also changes involving the shape of packages, no longer depending on weight to govern prices.

DM News has noticed and writes this:
EBayers worried about shipping costs

Seventy-seven percent of eBay and online sellers are concerned about higher shipping costs when new U.S. Postal Service rates go into effect in May, and 26 percent are concerned that postal tools they use may not be ready when the changes go live, according to a recent AuctionBytes.com survey.

Postal rates are scheduled to increase an average of 7.6 percent on May 14....

The Media Mail category, which is used to ship CDs, DVDs and books, is scheduled to increase 17.9 percent .

Rates posted at Amazon say 1-pound media mail rate will go from $ $1.59 to $2.13.
In my neck of the woods, the nearest post office is about to cut its hours, while encouraging people to use its automated postal center, a machine that offers limited services. It's also trying to get people to use the vending machine, which is nearly always all but empty, and is cutting back on the outside machines where people can buy a stamp or two at a time. The APC requires a credit or debit card, meaning all purchases are tracked. Is this a security issue? Or is it a personnel/staffing issue?

The rates taking effect May 14 include:

• Letters, bill payments, greeting cards: 41 cents for the first ounce, up from 39 cents.

• Wedding invitation (2-ounces): 58 cents, down from 63 cents.

• Postcard: 26 cents, up from 24 cents.

• Priority mail flat-rate envelope: $4.60, up from $4.05.

• Express Mail flat-rate envelope: $16.95, up from $14.40.

• Parcel Post: 1-pound package, $4.50, up from 3.95.

• Bank statement: 2 ounces, presorted, 45.9 cents, down from 54.4 cents.

• Utility bill, barcoded: 31.2 cents, up from 29.3 cents.

Source: Associated Press

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