The USPS Rate Hike Hustle

January 1999 33¢
January 2001 34¢
June 2002 37¢
January 2006 39¢
May 2007 41¢
May 2008 42¢
May 2009 44¢

That’s 11¢ in the past 10 years.

That’s a 33% increase!!!

And that’s just on the basic first class stamp.

We’re paying much more, and I can’t tell you how many people have commented to me on how much the service has deteriorated.

I guess we should be “happy” with the 4.76% increase this year. Keep in mind the Postmaster General was asking Congress if they could reduce delivery days just a few months ago. The rates are supposed to be tied into the Consumer Price Index, but a quick glance at the percent changes (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) for the past 12 months (ending March 2009, shows the CPI is DOWN 0.4% (includes food & energy). Considering the post office just announced the rate increase in February, I’d really like to know where their numbers came from that justified an increase.

I also wonder if the brains behind the numbers at the USPS have figured out that the more they raise rates, the less people will mail. They could easily price themselves out of business.

There was a lot of bitching by the post office about their loss necessitating the increase, but their loss was a result of congress requiring them to put $5.6 billion into the Retiree Health Benefits Fund created by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA). Without that required payment, the post office’s actual profit would have been $2.8 billion.

Postage price history data from: (which as of 3/27/17 no longer works).

Post Office Woes

I’m not sure what’s up with the US postal service lately. I had 2 priority mail packages take 11 days to get delivered in December. What the heck happened to 2-3 days? A day or two delay I could live with, but more than a week? I certainly didn’t get the service I paid for. Any other business would be obligated to refund at least part of my money, if not all of it. I know, it’s not a guarantee, but if that’s what they are advertising that does establish an obligation on their part to deliver it.

I’ve noticed my regular first class mail has slowed down to a crawl, too. I ordered some coupons from a place in Rhode Island last week. They shipped on January 8th, and I still don’t have them — it’s the 16th. They may come today, who knows? The sale I wanted to use them for is over now, though. It used to be first class was a day or two… even across the country. Now it’s 5 days or more for something coming just a few states away.

I had a check from a client end up in a neighbor’s mailbox several months back. She just happens to be one of those people who don’t look at their mail until it’s time to pay bills, so it wasn’t found for over two weeks. Both the client and I were wondering what the heck happened (she’s sent a new check in the meantime).

Getting the wrong mail has been an ongoing problem for several years. Part of the problem is because the morons that built this neighborhood put the same house numbers on two parallel streets. There are only 8 houses on my street! WTF? Would it have been that difficult to use different numbers?


Now to top it off, the USPS is raising rates AGAIN. I can’t believe Congress gave them permission to set their own rates. It’s actually a bit shocking. It’s gonna be just like all the banks and big businesses now, no accountability, run the business into the ground, and suck more money out of the public.

(That said, our postal system is second to none in the world, but it sure seems like it’s been going downhill the past few years, while prices have been going up.)

I have some tips for the folks running the USPS: you don’t have to advertise that you deliver mail. We know that. So enough with the television advertising. And quit spending tons of money sponsoring the Olympics, too. That’s feel-good advertising and doesn’t help the post office function. And lose the “retail stores” in the newer buildings. There is no way they are creating additional profit as all those goods could be sold behind the regular counter. Is there really enough markup on a framed stamp to justify the shelf space? I understand, sort of, selling boxes and envelopes, but collectibles like mugs and toys? Should that even be part of the business plan?