That's how it all started. One penny to mail your letter. It was a bargin and it remains a bargin, even when you add on 48 more pennies. I make this argument every time there is a price increase at the U.S.P.S. I value mail and I believe that slightly less than half a dollar is more than fair to take my words, thoughts, and feelings in tangible form across sometimes thousands of miles. It's incredible. There's a podcast called 99% Invisible where the host, Roman Mars, says, "I wouldn't take your letter upstairs for 46 cents, and I'm going there anyway." If we didn't have the U.S.P.S., I am certain some private company would step in, but it will be dreadfully more expensive, not just three pennies more expensive.
What is curious about this increase is that it is a higher jump than the U.S.P.S. normally implements. There's always some person who loves to point out how, technically, you can't make any money by buying Forever stamps at the current price and then reselling them for more, but, with this increase and with LARGE amounts of stamps, you technically can. You can read a very informative guide to this "opportunity for arbitrage" here. If someone wants to give the L.W.A. a buncha money to go buy stamps to resell and make more money with which to buy more stamps, we do have a handy donate button.
I don't get many Pen Pals or even people just in everyday conversation complaining much about the increase. When they complain at all, it is often more a case of wondering why not increase it more, straight up to 50 cents. There's probably a good reason why and it probably has to do with bulk mailing rates or some other large scale thing that doesn't apply to the regular letter writer.
What does apply to me, more than the 3 cent increase, is that any First Class packages that use stamps instead of computerized postage with the barcode will have an additional 20 cent handling fee. It super bums me out. Not so much that I have to pay more, but that I feel like I'm being punished for using stamps. That feeling is further increased because computerized stamps will cost 48 cents instead of 49. I know that the scannable items make work flow easier on the U.S.P.S. but, dammit, I like my stamps and I hate when I take it to the counter and they add that zero sum label just to expedite the process. I will take aesthetics over expedition any day.
You can read all about the price increases here. Other highlights include increases on the Priority Flat Rate Small Box, a penny increase on postcards, and a nickle raise on International letters. So, L.W.A. members and blog readers, how's the increase treating you? Do you think they should have just gone to 50 cents? Will you send less mail? Will you be more willing to use computer generated postage?