The Checkout

Back to the Stamp Line

When I lived in New York years ago, one of the most excruciating things about navigating the city was the token booth in the subway stations. This was in the early 1990s. If you found yourself without a token during rush hour, all you could do was stand in a line 20-deep to buy a token. It felt as if the minute you stepped underground, you left the late 20th century behind along with all of its technological advances.

That all changed with the advent of the Metrocard and vending machines. Now, when I go to New York, the only people loitering in front of a token booth are tourists asking for directions.

It's an example of automation, for once, improving customer service. ATMs, are another example. For better or worse, they have freed us all from having to spend our lunch hours standing in line at the bank just to get cash.

For reasons I can't quite fathom, however, the U.S. Postal Service has decided to go in the opposite direction and, starting next year, plans to get rid of 23,000 stamp vending machines at post offices nationwide over the next four years.

I'm one of those people who finds procuring stamps something of a chore. I do almost all my bill paying online. I strongly dislike scrounging around for stamps and use them mainly to send cards to friends and relatives. But my husband still gets pleasure out of sending things via snail mail, even if it means walking several blocks in search of a post office box, or racing to the post office on Saturday before it closes at 1 p.m.

The U.S. Postal Service's decision strikes me as especially odd since the service has been trying to improve convenience by giving customers more payment options, offering cash back when you pay with a debit card, and stocking post offices with packaging materials, and even gift wrap supplies.

Along those lines, the Postal Service also expanded the number of places you can buy stamps. You can get them through the mail, at the grocery store and at the bank. That certainly softens the impact of eliminating stamp vending machines. But I say anything that reduces the number of locations where consumers can find stamps is still a move away from convenience.

Will anyone else miss the stamp vending machines inside post offices? Is there somewhere else the USPS could offer stamps that would be more convenient for you?

By Annys Shin |  October 20, 2006; 7:00 AM ET Consumer News
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Comments

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Mail order stamps via the internet would be really convenient. This probably already exists and it just never occurred to me to look into it before.

Posted by: anon | October 20, 2006 8:06 AM

I keep getting junk mail from USPS that they'll ship me stamps with no s&h fee. If I use the mail order form.

You can buy them online. But there's something like a $1 fee. The upside is I just learned that you can buy 'coils' of stamps in quantities greater than 100. 3000, and 10000 are available, too. Though maybe a quantity between the wide gulf of 3k and 100 could help someone before they change the rates again.

I think of going to the Post Office Counter the same way that I think about going up to a Bank Teller. Remember those?

Posted by: Kim | October 20, 2006 8:51 AM

Spoiled consumers! This sounds like Wal-mart and lay-away. Not many people are using it and the costs far exceed the benefit. Try to be a little forward thinking--buy them at the grocery store! But I really wouldn't worry--when I was a kid you could buy them out of a little bubble-gum sized vending machine at a mark-up. I am sure some enterprising individual will figure out a way to make money on it.

Posted by: jane | October 20, 2006 8:56 AM

I'll miss them for one. Saves me a trip through the (massive) line, and honestly it's nice to be able to get those 24 cent and 83 cent stamps that way, since my grocery store at least doesn't have them and I've got lots of friends overseas that I write to on a fairly regular basis (and several manuscript submissions that take a few ounces' worth of postage, and thus necessitate 24 cent stamps).

Posted by: Anonymous | October 20, 2006 9:28 AM

I'll miss them. Our post office even has a mail your own package kiosk which is wonderful. (it weighs the package and prints the postage)

Posted by: MD | October 20, 2006 9:30 AM

What a bad move by USPS. I noticed that I can buy stamps now through my ATM, so I'll probably end up doing that. That's a problem for USPS, which should want MORE foot traffic in their offices to attract people who might buy the gift wrap, packaging supplies, and other profitable items. If people aren't going there in the first place, they lose.

Posted by: Dupont DC | October 20, 2006 9:38 AM

I've been buying stamps online for years. There's a $1 fee, but I buy a few months' worth at a time so it's not a big deal. Plus I get to browse through all the different stamp designs, unlike at the post office where they only have a few options and the clerks glare at you if you want anything other than basic flag stamps.

Posted by: Clarissa | October 20, 2006 9:48 AM

I love getting the change in dollar coins from the USPS stamp machines (and no, I'm not being sarcastic - I love those beautiful "gold" dollars!) Unfortunatly, the machines are out of order more often than not. The wait for a human at the PO closest to my office is consistently 30 minutes long - or more. On Saturday mornings I have to plan for an hour if I need something. I'll be buying my stamps on line from now on, and will continue to spend a couple of extra bucks to get in and out of the UPS store or Kinkos/FedEx in under 5 minutes.

Posted by: KiKi | October 20, 2006 9:57 AM

And here's the message I just received trying to purchase stamps online immediately after typing the above comment:

"Generic Error

The Postal Store is currently experiencing problems. Please try again later."

Yup, that's Customer Service, American-style.

Posted by: KiKi | October 20, 2006 10:03 AM

I will miss the machines. They are convenient when you have to mail something after the PO has closed and you need a stamp or two. Sure, you can buy books of 20 at the grocery or rolls of 100 at Costco. However, you cannot always mail a letter from those locations. With the PO planning to remove the blue mail boxes, too, you will have to go the PO anyway.

Posted by: Eric | October 20, 2006 10:15 AM

I love getting the gold dollars in change also! But yes, the machines are out of order far too often, which only makes the lines longer. My local post office is open 7 days a week, but their internal "store" which also sells stamps, stamped envelopes, and mailing materials is often not "open", so again everyone joins the one long line.

I wish that the USPS would just scrap the old machines and install more reliable ones. They are needed. Not everyone in the country can order online or buy via an ATM. The success of their "ship it yourself" mailing machines should teach them that customers are happy to use machines -- when they WORK.

Posted by: Julie | October 20, 2006 10:15 AM

I loathe all things USPS. I avoid buying stamps until I'm in desperate need to send something because the process of doing so is so inconvenient. So this instance of the USPS making self-defeating decisions makes me giddy. I'm not even going to go into the failure of my carriers to do their job, deliver mail correctly to me instead of my neighbor's mailbox, or follow forwarding orders. I'm not going to compain about the hour long line just to send a package (the self shipping center is a Godsend, but I would not be surprised if the USPS shoots itself in the foot yet again and gets rid of that, too!) I'm not going to complain about bent in half photos (in clearly marked DO NOT BEND packages) or returned diplomas sent first class, certified, despite a not-quite four month old forwarding order. I'm not going to vent about the unbelievably out of touch administrators that haven't set foot in a post office as a customer in years. I'm just going to smile smugly as USPS digs yet another level for its collective grave with this customer dis-service. People do not like change, and the USPS is king of instituting change, and having a "ya'll be damned" attitude to accompany it. Monopolies are the bane of consumers. I would love to see private carriers and competition...
Sign me,
Former Rural Letter Carrier and Very Disgruntled Alexandria Trade Center PO Customer

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 20, 2006 10:40 AM

I would imagine the machines are more expense than they were worth. I doubt they got enought use to make it worth keeping them. I never used them, if I want stamps I buy them along with my groceries. If I am in a post office, it is to mail a package so I am in line anyway and I can pick and chose the stamps I want when I make the transaction.

Posted by: Bob | October 20, 2006 10:53 AM

Oh, for God's sake. Can't you find something worthy to complain about?

I'm past being surprised about anything USPS does. Going to a Post Office for ANYTHING is generally an immense pain in the butt. Why would you make a special trip there to buy stamps at all? Save the time, gas, and frustration and get them at the grocery store or any of the other dozen alternative sources.

Posted by: Jim | October 20, 2006 10:55 AM

"With the PO planning to remove the blue mail boxes, too, you will have to go the PO anyway."

Ummm... remember what the nifty little flag on the side of your mailbox is for?

Posted by: Jim | October 20, 2006 10:56 AM

I will miss the machines. I buy First Class stamps at the supermarket, but the machines were great for getting postcard stamps without having to stand in line. It drove me crazy when someone in the long line at the PO would only buy stamps at the counter with the machines right there (probably they wanted stamps with more interesting designs, which were not sold in the machines). I'll be incredibly sad if they get rid of the mail your own package kiosks, although those would be much improved if they would allow me to use my check card as a credit card like I can do everywhere else.

Posted by: aqbailey | October 20, 2006 11:04 AM

Jim,
True, people who live in single family homes generally have a box with a flag. However, many live in apartment, condo, and townhome communities in this area, thanks to the insane housing prices. So, we often have a megabox...a shared multiunit box...with no flag. And any outgoing mail placed in it for the carrier to pick up is, well, left, ignored, and smashed when the carrier places the next days mail in the box without even touching the outgoing mail. We depend on those blue boxes nearby to drop off our mail without having to trek all the way to a PO. :-)

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 20, 2006 11:04 AM

I guess it won't bother me much. I virtually never use them, even when they are more convenient because I hate getting a hand full of $1 coins to lug around. On top of that, the $1 is in such limited uses that when I try to spend them I've had retailers look at me suspiciously when I hand it to them, because they never see them!

Posted by: Josh | October 20, 2006 11:08 AM

I can't understand why they're doing this. It beats standing in line, although that's an option. Has USPS explained why? Is it because the machines are out of order? Get better machines--buy them from Coke or Pepsi. Is it because they're not used? Well, then maybe the market has spoken. I buy stamps through the catalog a lot, but I like the vending machines when I need a few stamps. I just don't get it.

Posted by: ah | October 20, 2006 11:24 AM

That nifty little flag is by no means a way to pay bills.

It's a flag to let any check scammers know to help themselves. Any time someone sends a bill they're doing us all a favor by dropping it in a BLUE box or at the PO. Anyplace else is (and always has been) a risk.

Posted by: Kim | October 20, 2006 11:26 AM

I have also been purchasing my stamps online for years, now. I love it!

It is simple, quick, and inexpensive. My orders, which originate from their fulfillment warehouse in Kansas City, Missouri, usually arrive in two days.

I love being able to choose the different designs.

Posted by: K | October 20, 2006 11:35 AM

So...why is the USPS getting rid of them? They must give some reason. What is it?

Posted by: h3 | October 20, 2006 11:44 AM

I don't know, but when the heck are the Christmas stamps going to go on sale? I keep checking on-line over and over again, and they're not up yet. I want to get my Christmas card project DONE and it annoys me that they're not on sale yet. GRRRRR. It's late October! Hurry up, slow poke, USPS. Or has anyone seen if they are available yet, even at the post offices? I'll go if I need to. Thanks...

Posted by: Organized Kris Kringle | October 20, 2006 11:53 AM

Will miss the machines, but I suppose that it's a smart move, both to 1) push people into getting stamps online/use alternative (less costly) sources, and 2) reduce maintenance costs.

That said, if they do this, they should drop the processing fee on the 'net.

But where will I get my Sacagewea (sp?) dollars? Suckage.

Posted by: MB | October 20, 2006 12:02 PM

Eric (or anyone), could you cite a source for the claim that the postal service is planning to get rid of the blue boxes? Interested to know if this is true or a rumor. Thanks.

Posted by: Lucas | October 20, 2006 12:23 PM

CyanSquirrel:
I've never seen a multi-unit box that didn't have a separate box for outgoing mail.

If there's mail in your personal box, the carrier thinks it's the previous day's mail that you haven't picked up yet. S/he can't look at all that mail everytime and determine if it's incoming or outgoing.

If the outgoing mail won't fit in the outgoing mail box, take it to the complex office and put it with their outgoing mail. I've done that many times.

Posted by: CalmDown | October 20, 2006 12:55 PM

Lucas, KCBS radio (San Francisco) in the last day or two had a lot of coverage of the fact USPS will be removing stamp machines, and that they will be removing blue boxes (I believe they stated the "less-used" ones.)
I for one hate to go to our suburban post office, as there is a distinct LACK of parking spaces...and now they want even more people to drive over to simply mail an envelope?

Posted by: Janet | October 20, 2006 1:00 PM

This also strikes me as a pretty dumb move. For all the USPS talk about increased availability of stamps, also any urban branch you walk in during the business day has one, maybe two clerks and lines snaking around corners to the boxes. If anything they need to be upgrading these machines to accept credit/debit cards etc.

Posted by: CW | October 20, 2006 1:01 PM

I don't understand all the categorical complaints people have with USPS b/c I've never had that problem with the offices themselves in the numerous places I've lived - but that's me, maybe I'm lucky or something. 9 times out of 10 I have always gotten prompt courteous service, and I can't remember a single time when I've ever mailed anything that didn't get where it was supposed to go or was damaged - if anything I'm sometimes surprised how quickly things get delivered. Are lines long sometimes - sure, but lines tend to be longer at a restaurant when you go during lunchtime too so if you don't like that then don't go during peak times. We have had some trouble with letter carriers recently since we're along a training route and sometimes they screw things up but that's the exception rather than the rule. They may not be perfect but neither is any company or organization the size of the USPS. There are people in many countries in the world that would gladly trade what they have for a system as reliable and far-reaching as ours.

Posted by: Rosslyn | October 20, 2006 1:26 PM

CalmDown,

In the two years I've lived in large, small, and single-unit housing/apartments both here and in other cities, I've never had a mail carrier pick up outgoing mail no matter where it is put (nor have I ever had an "outgoing mail" box in my building that was actually used by the mail carrier as such). For those of us who don't live in apartment complexes complete with swimming pools, dry cleaners, and the like, the blue post office box on the corner really is the only option besides the post office.

Posted by: reality check | October 20, 2006 1:28 PM

I have seen many multiunit mailboxes, and I have never seen one without an outgoing mail slot. It's usually at the top of the box, larger than the rest of the boxes. And yes, I have heard, on WTOP, I believe, that the USPS is removing blue corner boxes.

Posted by: Sue | October 20, 2006 1:54 PM

CalmDown,
You're right, there are often outgoing mail slots or a central office you can drop off mail at. But like reality check, I too have never seen the carrier pick up outgoing mail (which happened to be store in just a catchall basket on a bulletin board that anyone could steal from, and thus I never used). My current place has multi-unit boxes scattered in clusters around the complex, but no outgoing box. Its a townhome community, so should we leave our mail with the HOA office? I don't think they'd like that, even if we had a central office (we don't). The only outgoing mailbox we have for the entire community of 100 plus houses is a blue mail box owned by the PO on the street corner.

I am a former carrier, and I was taught to ALWAYS look at any mail in the box. You just scan quickly for uncanceled stamps. You tend to know if the mail there is from the day before or if it is clearly a single envelope ready to be mailed. It doesn't take more than a second to scan and then place the current day's mail in the box.

Just some points :-)

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 20, 2006 2:05 PM

Reality check, you've had some bad luck! I have lived in apartment buildings in this area for years and never had a problem with mail not being picked up from the outgoing mail boxes. Did you ever think to complain to the local post office about this poor service? I can't believe entire buildings would just accept this and do nothing.

Posted by: Grace | October 20, 2006 2:06 PM

Count me as another fan of the USPS. I usually have gotten good and courteous service, but yes, the stamp machines are often broken. Glad that many can buy stamps at the grocery store, but I send letters overseas, and those stamps aren't sold at the grocery store. Also, in many small towns, the post office is open longer hours than the service windows are open, so people can pick up mail from their boxes. The machines are usually in this outer area so people can buy stamps even when the service area is closed. I think the USPS is going to get complaints about this.

As far as the boxes, I think maybe it's ok to remove the "lesser used" ones if they make sure not to deprive an entire neighborhood. I work in Old Town and there are four boxes within two blocks of my office. Seems unnecessary.

Posted by: Anne | October 20, 2006 2:09 PM

CyanSquirrel, if that's your situation, clearly your local blue box is not "lesser used" so you shouldn't worry about it being taken away.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 20, 2006 2:11 PM

Complain (hahahaha) to the local (hahahahaha) PO about (hahahahaha) poor service!? (Laughing hysterically...) I've done that so many times, and I've never had a resolution, just a continued decline in service (I think the carriers do it out of spite one they've been talked to by a supervisor.) Thus my posting above about being very disgruntled. The Trade Center PO on Pickett Street in Alexandria is one of the worst managed and worst attitude facilities ever maintained by the PO. The carriers, when given an official USPS forwarding order, signed and printed from the internet, snarl "That's not a forwarding order. So I won't accept it." Um...the directions say GIVE THIS TO YOUR LOCAL CARRIER? "I still won't accept it. You have to go talk to the postmaster."

Yeah...oh the memories! But in many ways I sympathize with carriers. I understand their working conditions and office politics can be pretty demoralizing. But still...if you can't give customer service 24/7 when in blue, WHY ARE YOU WORKING THERE? Grr...ok no more rants. I'll just be happy to see this overbloated bureaucracy sink like the Titanic.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 20, 2006 2:15 PM

The box may not be lesser used, but I'm not holding my breath. The PO is not known for keeping a pulse on its customers needs. So if the box disappears, I guess I'll write back here and say "told ya so..." Heh. :-) It's not a hassle for me, as I'm young and able-bodied. But there are many older folks who live in the community, and I fear for them more than anything.

Let's just suffice it to say, rural customers get much much better treatment all around than do city folks.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 20, 2006 2:21 PM

I rarely used the machines because the change they gave was dollar coins - of which I totally approve, but which no store wants to accept. And dispensing more than $4 in dollar coins was real backward-technology. Give me a $5-bill!

I try to order on line - though I resent the fee. And it takes them too long to deliver - like they send them from Washington to Texas via pony express!

Posted by: David Currier | October 20, 2006 2:35 PM

I presume that you are being sarcastic about not being able to find holiday stamps. But, if not, you can find them online...
Holiday Snowflakes,
Eid,
Kwanzaa,
Hanukkah and
Madonna and Child
are all currently available.

Posted by: To organized Kris Kringle, from K | October 20, 2006 2:45 PM

About mailing from home......The carrier doesn't have to pick up your outgoing mail, even if you have the flag up, unless he/she actually has mail to deliver to you. Found that out when I complained to my local post office that a card sat in my box with the flag up for 3 days in a row. Keep the blue boxes!

Posted by: JW SE Virginia | October 20, 2006 3:50 PM

Whoa, that's totally not policy. At least not with rural carriers, unless things have radically changed in the last 3 years since I left. Hmm... Carriers are required to pick up mail if the flag is up, regardless of whether or not they have mail for you. Sounds like you got a lazy PO. I'd go to corporate with that complaint and their response...

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 20, 2006 3:57 PM

More often than not, those stamp machines are out of order or out of stamps. I hate vending machines. Always have, always will. So I try to buy them from the grocery store or make a special trip on Saturday morning to stand in line. Now I live in a rural area and have my very own personal mail box with a red flag to leave outgoing mail for pick-up. Years ago I lived in the city with a multi-compartmented teeny-tiny mailbox in the apartment building lobby. Invariably larger items and magazines never fit in the teeny-tiny box so the mailman left those items on the top shelf of the bank of mailboxes. Other tenants helped themselves to my magazines, newspapers and anything else I had received, which prompted me to cut back drastically on subscriptions and ordering anything by mail.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | October 20, 2006 4:10 PM

"For reasons I can't quite fathom"? I know this is a blog, but isn't it a blog written by a journalist? Why not find out before writing?

The new wave of journalism: Journalist simply poses a question and waits for public to provide its own answers. This already occurs to a large extent with the new wave of journalists who don't know anything. Journalist attempts to write a story about consumer issues, technology, legal affairs, the economy, etc.; readers correct content, grammar. Combination of article story plus corrections form news story.

Posted by: bkp | October 20, 2006 4:28 PM

"For reasons I can't quite fathom"? I know this is a blog, but isn't it a blog written by a journalist? Why not find out before writing?

The new wave of journalism: Journalist simply poses a question and waits for public to provide its own answers. This already occurs to a large extent with the new wave of journalists who don't know anything. Journalist attempts to write a story about consumer issues, technology, legal affairs, the economy, etc.; readers correct content, grammar. Combination of article plus corrections forms news story.

Posted by: bkp | October 20, 2006 4:29 PM

In Easton, MD, where I live and at selected other post offices there are now machines where you can buy stamps, and weigh and buy the correct postage for large envelopes and packages. I like these machines very much. You don't even have to stand in line to send packages. The machines take cash, credit cards and debit cards. Maybe the post office will eventually install them in many other post offices.

Posted by: Paul Rettig | October 20, 2006 4:48 PM

There's a sign on one of the blue boxes beside my office saying it's going to be removed soon b/c of lack of use. Of course there's a second one right beside it that will be staying.

My girlfriend's apt. building doesn't have an outgoing mail box. It's strange.

As for the dollar coins, I hate them w/ a passion. I'd like them if they were the 2 toned Euro style. Instead it's extraordinarly difficult to tell them apart from quarters without good lighting. If I were Sec. of Treasury, I'd put a big picture of me frowning at the Mint's employee entrance w/ a dollar coin beneath it and a sign that said "This was a horrible idea."

Last comment on stamps: what's the deal with the latest ones not having the price on the stamp? I mail something like once every 3 months and have to scrounge through drawers to find some. With no price on them I have no idea if I bought them before or after the price changed.

Posted by: yarr | October 20, 2006 4:56 PM

I won't miss the vending machines. I've been buying stamps from the USPS catalog for years. I buy around $40 worth at a shot, the shipping is only $1, and you can choose all kinds of pretty pictures rather than the dull, dull, dull flag and Statue of Liberty stuff. My letters have been covered with Richard Nixon, Greta Garbo, the characters from children's literature, and the quilts of Gee's Bend!

Posted by: Vulture Breath | October 20, 2006 5:25 PM

Another great internet postage option... hit the 'methsucks' store on cafepress to order postage with a message! A little premium, but the profits help supprt DC area outreach regarding meth use, abuse, and recovery!

Posted by: bigolpoofter | October 23, 2006 7:07 AM

I've used outgoing mail slots in two apartments and never had a problem. In fact, the last two buildings had nice little chutes so I didn't have to go downstairs, although I have seem a couple of cases where mail got stuck and once where someone vandalized the chute by intentionally putting trash into the mail chute and clogging it. Both problems I observed were cleared up within aday. However, everytime I've ever put mail in the chute (always a bill), it was picked up and delivered on time.

However, I would also point out that I rarely use mail for bills now. I've been in my present building for 8 months and I haven't put a single thing in the mail box. I'm not even sure if my present building has an outgoing box. They definitely don't have one of those neat chutes.

The vending machines in the post office are handy when necessary, but if I ever need a stamp, I suppose I'll use the options others have already mentioned, ATM, grocery store, maybe even that ancient Post Office counter.

Posted by: Manuel | October 23, 2006 9:30 AM

I think that the Post Office is just switching to machines that offer more automated services rather than eliminating stamp machines. Sometime in the last 6 months my post office installed a machine that will weigh packages, print the correct stamp (after payment by cash, debit or credit card) or just sell you stamps. It's very convenient and makes sense to have one machine to service instead of two.

Posted by: Davis | October 23, 2006 9:58 AM

I use the Post Office so infrequently - once every couple of months or so, maybe - that it's immaterial. I pay my bills electronically and handle personal correspondence via e-mail. About the only USPS does for me is to bring me unwanted junk mail.

Posted by: Brent | October 23, 2006 11:26 AM

"I'll miss them. Our post office even has a mail your own package kiosk which is wonderful. (it weighs the package and prints the postage)"

our post office has one of those too, and you can buy JUST Stamps from it too. go fig. it's been months since i've actually stepped in the line at the PO

Posted by: elizz | October 24, 2006 8:54 AM

"CyanSquirrel:
I've never seen a multi-unit box that didn't have a separate box for outgoing mail.
Posted by: CalmDown | October 20, 2006 "

CalmDown, swing by my apartment complex in Herndon. There is no outgoing mail box/slot in any of our buildings nor do we have a blue box. We either have to take outgoing mail to the rental office (when they can work showing up into their busy schedule) or to the post office. Stupid and inconvenient.

Posted by: NoVa | October 24, 2006 11:31 AM

Notice:

The removal of the stamp machines from all Post Office's is estimated to save millions for the user.

Accordingly, with no end in site for the high cost of fuel, we shall re-establish the Pony Express for all transcontinental mail.

First Class mail gets a faster horse.

Political Advertising, etc. gets a Bull.

Posted by: USPS | October 24, 2006 11:32 AM

Everyone goes on about how you can buy stamps at grocery stores and ATMs - even for overseas addresses? ???

Posted by: AngloAm | October 24, 2006 12:40 PM

If you happen to find one that does, let me know. The only ones I can find are the first-class ones, not the postcard (and second-ounce) or international ones.

Posted by: To AngloAm | October 24, 2006 12:50 PM

In all fairness to USPS, their automated postage machines are a boon for mailing packages & determining international postage rates. Since they are located in post office lobbies that are open 24x7, you can mail your packages and heavier items with exact postage any time of day or night & holidays too. I can't figure out why anyone needs more than a few dozen stamps per year when nearly every transaction the average consumer needs to conduct can be done online? 1-800-STAMP24 or usps.com for those stuck in the 20th century.

Posted by: metak8 | October 25, 2006 10:58 AM

The post office doesn't care to please the customer. It was a hassle for me to send outgoing mail when I lived in apartments. I had to make a special trip to the blue box. I counted having my own mailbox as a perk when I bought my own house.

And the USPS stamp machines are not consistent. Some dispense single stamps, others only dispense multiple stamps. When one machine kept my cash without giving my a product, I had to call the machine operator and they mailed me a refund, in cash.

I like the idea of USPS buying machines from Coke/Pepsi. But it won't happen.

Let's hope the competition warms up to this.

Posted by: ProfessorB | October 25, 2006 11:24 AM

My "mailbox" is a slot in my front door so I depend on those blue boxes for outgoing mail. Sure, I bet some people would say to attach my outgoing mail to the railing with a rubberband but with rain and theives, that's a really stupid idea in the city.

Also, my experience with the post office is they are only open during working hours... when I'm at WORK! I like the vending machines so I can buy a stamp when I need it. I don't need them often, but when I do, I do!

Posted by: Summer | October 30, 2006 2:20 PM

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