Rising stamp costs frustrates residents, businesses alike

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 6, 2001

AP and staff reports

It might not make much difference to private citizens paying bills or mailing letters.

But to small businesses throughout the Miss-Lou, a 1-cent increase in the cost of first-class stamps, which goes into effect Sunday, is yet another unavoidable expense.

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Bobby Ewing, owner of Dallas Productions in Natchez, believes stamps are already overpriced, but feels the increase is something he has to accept.

&uot;The sad part is here I am a man with a middle income, but what about all those people on fixed incomes?&uot; Ewing said.

And to make matter worse, the cost of gas and cable also continue to rise while people’s salaries remain the same, he said.

The post office proposed the 34-cent rate a year ago to help make up for rising costs and lower revenues. The new rates take effect Sunday to reduce any confusion that would occur on a regular business day.

Mail that is dropped in a mailbox today with a 33-cent stamp but not picked up and postmarked until Monday should be delivered.

However, letters sent next week without enough postage are supposed to be returned to the sender.

Other rates will also rise, including international mail, Express Mail, Priority Mail, parcel post, periodicals and advertising mail.

Ronald Redd, manager of Redd Pest Control Inc. in Natchez, said his business will certainly feel the effects of an increase in postage.

Though the increase is small, it’s one more added expense to running a small business.

And Redd, who is dissatisfied by the postal system anyway, wonders where the money is going.

&uot;We’ve had so much trouble with the service, I don’t really feel like we’re getting what we pay for,&uot; he said.

To cope, Redd said his office will try to cut back on mailings and send out fewer billing statements.

But it’s not just business owners who will miss that extra cent. Several residents stopped to read a notice of the increase taped outside the post office in downtown Natchez.

Barbara McKinley, who remembers when stamps were 3 cents each, said she isn’t surprised by the increase.

&uot;I guess everything else is going up, so why not stamps?&uot; she said.

U.S. Postal Service Spokesman Don Smeraldi said the agency has sent an avalanche of stamps to its 38,000 offices across the country, shipping 4 billion 1-cent stamps to help people use up their leftover stocks of 33-cent stamps.

In addition, some 7.6 billion stamps worth 34 cents each went on sale Dec. 15. Because they had to be printed in advance, these stamps do not show a price on them.

The new rate for overseas mail will be 60 cents per ounce for Canada and Mexico and 80 cents per ounce for other countries. Previously international rates had been per half-ounce.

The post office’s two largest competitors have also announced rate increases.

United Parcel Service will increase its air shipment rates 3.7 percent effective Feb. 5. International shipments will rise 2.9 percent. And ground service – the bulk of UPS’s business – will rise 3.1 percent.

FedEx announced that it will increase U.S. air express rates 4.9 percent on Feb. 1.