Friday, February 29, 2008

Another USPS Ripoff

Today's rant is about the online change-of-address form. After they spam you with advertisements for magazines and catalogs, they charge you $1. They claim it is to verify that the person making the request is really that person, but then why not put the $1 back onto your card like a refund? Maybe I am wrong here, but it is my understanding that this is a costless process. But even if it is not, why not reduce the fee to just cover the cost of the charge by the credit card company? What are credit card companies charging these day? $0.30 a transaction plus 3%? Make the verification $0.35 then. I know this seems trivial, but if I have to be bombarded with advertisements from a government agency, THEN I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY FOR THE SERVICE!

Doesn't the postal service make enough money? I mean really, $0.43 to mail a piece of paper, which seems to increase on a monthly basis (actually I think it is yearly now). This is outrageous if you really think about it. Luckily I don't mail a lot of things, but when I have to, usually I can only find an outdated stamp that needs to have postage added to it. The new forever stamp solves this problem, except when the postal person sells you on the new Star-Wars commemorative.

What about all the other services they offer? The passport process includes $15 photos and a $30 processing fee. Thankfully you can get your photos elsewhere and spend only $7.50, but if you remember the old days when you could process actual film, it was still $5 to develop an entire roll. The $30 fee is for a guy to look over your passport application and then mail it in. Why don't they just start charging people for standing in line at the post office? Isn't that essentially the same concept?

The delivery confirmation - It's just another way to add $0.75 to your already inflated shipping cost. Is the marginal cost of scanning the package when the post guy delivers it, really $0.75? No, it is probably closer to zero but, hey, I think $0.20 would be fairer and it would still be enough to prevent every person from adding it to every piece of mail they ship.

Stamp collecting - they promote this like it is the best fad to hit America since the 1920's flappers. Why? Because essentially you are just giving them free money! They can print as much postage as they want, and if it is never spent, presto! I used to collect stamps in the 1990's but a collection only yields value if it is a rare commodity. I stopped collecting circa 1999 because they were constantly creating new issues like the New York Times and started heavily promoting stamp collecting as an "exciting hobby for all ages" (translation: if you are dumb enough to give us real currency worth 100 times the exchange for a piece of paper with a picture on it, we'll gladly accept it!). Sure there are probably quite a few ding dongs who collect stamps because "they are pretty" and are spending buckets of money to acquire them, just like beanie-babies, but postage actually provides a service and has a use. I'm not sure how many stamp collectors there are currently, but I'm sure it provides the postal service with a lot of free money that doesn't translate into lower postage costs for the rest of us.

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