If you go to www.usps.com and order stamps, you’ll find there is a $1 shipping/handling charge. This has always puzzled me. I would think that the Postal Service of all places would deliver stamps for free. Lets assume that the pricing is a well thought out business decision.
Evidently it costs the Post Office roughly $1 more per stamp order to sell you a package of stamps online than it costs for you to walk in, talk to a clerk and deal with the transaction in person. This seems surprising to me. I would expect the cost of providing stamps from one centralized location would be cheaper than paying people to do it in person from the physical offices. Here are a couple reasons this may not be the case:
- Many people who buy stamps wouldn’t buy over the internet. It is possible that the more likely you are to make an internet purchase, the less likely you are to use stamps. Of course this is precisely the ideal audience for stamps–people who might buy but never use them.
- Stamp sales act as a “filler” between the postal workers other duties and the reduction of this role wouldn’t allow them to lower their staffing significantly.
- The internet fulfillment is a very manual process and they have invested very little in automation so far.
I’m not really complaining. I enjoy going to the Post Office to buys stamps and ship packages and I’d hate for that to go away. Last time I went in the older postal worker chided me for my sloppy signature on my credit card receipt. “Your mother would be ashamed of you!” she said. Reprimanded for bad handwriting–it will be a good many years before the Internet is able to replace that part of the checkout process.