The forever stamp has been getting quite a bit of press lately as it will likely become a reality come May. While the stamp itself will help to save people time (by not having to go to the post office to get small denomination stamps to make the current stamps they have meet new postal increases) and may even save people a bit of money who mail a lot of first class letters, what many people are missing is that it will likely mean higher postal costs overall in the coming years.
That’s because the reason that the post office has been pushing the forever stamp is that it plans to raise postage rates on a regular basis – likely every year. When the post office wanted to raise rates in the past, the needed to go through the Postal Rate Commission that was often skeptical of the rate increases the post office asked for and was charged to make sure the increases only covered the postal services’ costs. Just the public hearings on the issue of a postal rate increase would take nearly a year, then more time would pass before any of the changes could be implemented. This meant that postal increases could only be made once every several years.
What many people don’t realize is that the Postal Rate Commission no longer exists. As part of a new law President Bush signed, it is now called the Postal Regulatory Commission and it’s no longer in charge of hearing rate requests. Instead of hearings, first-class stamps will now be tied to the inflation rate through the Consumer Price Index with the price being able to be adjusted once a year. That means we will likely see yearly increases in stamp prices from now on.
The other issue is that the forever stamp will not always be the same price. While the forever stamp can always be used to send a first class letter one it is purchased, when rate increases occur in the future, the forever stamp will also increase in price to the same level as the first class stamp.
While the forever stamp will likely be convenient when sending letters, the overall concept is not one to help you save money, but to make the future and more frequent postal increases less of a hassle.