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.
I will gladly pay the extra dollar. The locations of our post offices are by no means convient and it always seems that my blood pressure increases four fold when I walk into one. The lines are ridiculously long. Once, while waiting to send something overnight I was in line so long that the window for them to take it overnight went away. We do have these automated package shipping thing, but reading the screen seems to confuse people. I finally caved, openend my own FedEx account and send packages that way. They come to our building daily anyway and a home service is actually cheaper then the post office.
You can also buy stamps at many CVS stores.
Mark Shead says
@Gwen – I guess that is one of the advantages of living in a small town. There are rarely more than 2 or 3 people in line. I use FedEx for a lot of stuff as well. I’ve been impressed with how well FedEx is catering to Internet users.
@Rachel – A few years ago, Costco was selling stamps for a penny less than their face value. I don’t know if they had a deal with the post office, but I imagine they were just selling them at a loss to try to get people in the habit of buying business supplies there.
Yup. Our post office got complaints about line times, *so they removed the clock from the lobby*
Luckily, you can buy stamps from reasonable vending machines.
That’s really bizarre, given that the post office will happily send you as many Priority Mail boxes, customs envelopes and similar supplies as you want, for free. I can’t imagine that it costs less to ship a carton full of eBay branded Priority Mail boxes than it does a package of postage stamps.
That’s funny, because compared to the hassle of having to get to the post office, I always considered $1 flat rate (even if you get a couple hundred dollars worth of stamps) to be a pretty good deal, considering how much shipping is anyway.
I mean, I see your point, but what happened to thinking about things positively? XD
*Considering how much shipping is for most things purchased online. Realized I didn’t word that in a way that most people not living in my head would understand.
If you use one of the Post Office’s “stamps by mail” forms to order stamps, they don’t charge you for postage. I don’t know where I got the original form I used to order by mail (for some reason, I don’t think I picked it up at the post office), but they send you a couple new forms for future use with your stamp orders. The mailing address on the order form I use is for a post office in downtown Chicago (a city with notoriously bad postal mail service).
If you leave a note for your carrier they **should** drop off an order form the next day. Many carriers keeps stamps with them so they can fill the orders the same day. If your carrier doesn’t wear a uniform, chances are that they are a Rural Carrier and as a Rural Carrier it is part of their jo to carry stamp stock just for that purpose.
Franking Machines says
It sounds bizarre to be buying stamps over the Internet honestly, I mean this is taking online shopping over the board and misusing it. You are not that lazy to step out of your house to buy some stamps. And even if you are there is a better alternative to postage. Many people have found this method to be costly because obviously they have to cover their delivery costs. Now if you are that lazy than you could decide to purchase a franking machine. These are great for individual and small businesses use. They tend to be much cheaper than the traditional approach of mailing. Not only that they are able to advertise your company’s name on it too. I think this is the best revolutionized method of mailing/postal.
Mark Shead says
If you want people to open your letters, you are better off using a real stamp than the machine your company sells.
J Scott Graham says
Watch out we ordered Christmas stamps online from USPS web site and they never arrived. Post person showed them as delivered went to post office talked to 3 people and they have never got back to me. I took the mail out of box as the truck was going down the street have now trust.