Post office runs low on stamps|Demand for cheaper stamps exceeds supply

Published 9:22 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Staff Writer

A stamp shortage continues at the Washington Post Office, but should be resolved by the end of this week, a clerk said Tuesday.
Small-denomination stamps and forever stamps have been in short supply since the U.S. Postal Service raised rates May 11. A first-class stamp went to 44 cents that day, from 42.
While the post office waits for more stamps to arrive, customers should be patient, said LeVerne Buck, a 22-year veteran of the Washington post office.
Most people have handled the situation well, Buck said.
“Most people are very understanding,” he said. “There have been some who kind of joke about it, and then there’s always a few that are a little outspoken about their displeasure.”
As of mid-day Tuesday, the post office had a few 1-cent stamps, some 2-cent stamps, no forever stamps, and 44-cent stamps only in book (not roll) form.
The post office had been out of the low-denomination stamps, which can be used in conjunction with a 42-cent stamp to bring a letter’s total postage to the new level.
The problem has affected other post offices too, not just Washington, Buck said.
Buck said part of the postage shortage comes because people don’t understand how forever stamps work. The stamps are good for postage for one first-class letter forever (hence the name), no matter the price of first-class postage. But some people have been using 1- and 2-cent stamps to needlessly augment forever stamps.
Some people also buy more small-denomination stamps than they need because they forget how many old stamps they have at home, Buck said.
When 1- and 2-cent stamps are unavailable, people who have only 42-cent stamps have two options. They can buy 44-cent stamps and use the 42-cent stamps later, or they can take their outgoing mail to a post office, where workers can use a meter to affix the requisite extra postage.