TLP: When You're Hogtied, There's Only So Much You Can Do
First of all, it's not all the post office's fault. When was the last time you wrote a letter and put a stamp on it? But there's more to the woes the U.S. Postal Service is facing than the steep decline in mail volume. Turns out the recently announced proposal to add 2 cents to the price of a stamp is iffy.
The situation is even more perplexing when you consider that in general the post office is legally barred from increasing the price of stamps beyond inflation. Right now, Ms. Robinson says, that cap is around 0.6%, a little lower than the current consumer price index because the Postal Regulatory Commission uses a special formula on the moving average, so it tends to lag.Shitty business to be in, don't you think? When email has bypassed your primary function and the bulk of what's delivered now is stuff people don't want, asking to charge more is a tough sell.
In special circumstances like these, the postal service is allowed to request an additional permission for a special increase, like the one that would go into effect in January. If the Postal Service can demonstrate that exceptional circumstances to the Commission, the increase could be approved. Even with stamps going as high as 46 cents, it still might not make sense to invest in those Forever stamps, which are still available.
Part of what’s driving the Postal Service financial crisis is a simple decline in business. Your lack of junk mail from banks is a huge loss to mail carriers. And not just junk mail, but paper trails from realtors, retailers, and credit cards have also dropped. A lot of the costs companies face in mailing statements aren’t just wrapped up in stamp prices, but tied with printing and backend billing costs, and among the first to be revamped when it’s time to slim down a budget.
In the last two years, mail volume has fallen off a cliff, decreasing 20%. That’s the biggest decline than the Postal Service has seen since 1933, Mrs. Robinson says. Even then, volume plunged 17%. Commercial mail makes up about 75% of mail volume, Ms. Robinson says. In response, the agency is looking into offering rebates for volume growth or discounts for those who use reply envelopes or cards in their mailings.