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Forever Yours: How to Beat the Rising Cost of Postage

May 10, 2008

How long is forever?

Well, that depends.

With the clock ticking before Monday’s regularly scheduled 1-cent stamp price increase — first-class postage rises to 42 cents — the Postal Service has been selling billions of Forever stamps, its aptly named solution for customers looking to freeze time — and save a little dough.

How many postage stamps did you buy?

The Forever stamp — one is always enough to mail a letter first-class, no matter when you buy it — has firmly joined death and taxes as one of life’s precious few guarantees. And it looks like a lot of people are determined to save “one dumb penny,” as postal customer Irene McLellan described the stamp price increase Thursday.

Sales of the stamps hit the astonishing 6 billion mark since they were introduced last year, right after stamp prices were raised to 41 cents. And in the past few months, brisk sales of 30 million stick-ons a day have more than doubled, said U.S. Postal Service spokesman Augustine Ruiz. Nationwide, post offices are now selling 64 million units a day.

“People are just rushing,” Ruiz said. Greeters at Costco are even hawking the stamps at the door and at the many cash registers, warning customers to get their stamps before Monday.

One postal clerk at the Lundy Avenue office in San Jose boasted that he recently sold 1,000 Forever books, which contain 20 stamps each, to one customer. At that volume, and with the price of stamps set to increase at least a

cent every May from here on out, “one dumb penny” can add up to lots of dumb dollars.

Of course, not everyone’s looking to save a buck or three. Chi-ping Li, clutching 200 freshly purchased Forever stamps, said she just hates the look of 1-cent stamps, slapped on like little afterthoughts every time there’s a price increase.

“It’s so ugly on the envelope,” said Li, the president, fittingly, of a San Jose marketing firm named Designworks. “They should have come up with this concept years ago.”

Buy them at post offices this morning, or online until 11:59 p.m. Sunday. But be warned. If you wait until Monday to buy your Forever stamps, they’ll cost 42 cents, too.




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