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Forever Stamps popular before rate increase

Both branches of the Brookhaven Post Office have been dealingwith a run on Forever Stamps, and Manager Customer Service KeithRushing said there were plenty of the lifelong postage marks to goaround.

“We have a lot of people asking for them, and we have plenty onhand,” he said. “We’re asking our clerks when they sell stamps toask people if they would like a book of Forever Stamps. It’s forthe benefit of our customers.”

People benefit from buying the stamps – which are sold only inbooks of 20 for $8.20 – because, as the name implies, they will begood forever. Rushing said the stamps would be accepted for firstclass postage even after the price of stamps increases by one pennyto 42 cents on May 12, and every increase afterward.

“Postage could go up to 60 cents, but it wouldn’t make anydifference – Forever Stamps are exactly what they say they are,” hesaid.

Only two weeks remain before Forever Stamps – or any otherstamps – can be purchased for 41 cents.

When the rate increases, the price of Forever Stamps willincrease as well to $8.40 for a book of 20. Just as 41-cent ForeverStamps will be good after the May 12 uppage, those purchasedafterward for 42 cents will be good through subsequentincreases.

Rushing said that while, normally, people make no secret oftheir frustrations when the price of stamps increases, the upcomingrate change is going over smoothly so far.

“The response really hasn’t been that much this time,” he said.”Usually, when the rates go up we have people fussing and thingslike that.”

Perhaps people have suppressed their emotions over the increasebecause they are busy grabbing up Forever Stamps. Rushing said thepost office has been selling many of the 20-stamp booklets,sometimes as many as 200 to 300 booklets each day.

“We’re selling more Forever Stamps now than we’ve ever soldbefore,” he said. “I had a customer the other day who bought $300worth of Forever Stamps. She was doing it to save money.”

Forever Stamps can be purchased at either of the post offices orby the Stamps by Mail form, which was sent out to all postaladdresses in Brookhaven when Forever Stamps arrived. People canfill out the forms, indicating how many booklets of Forever Stampsthey would like, enclose a check and mail the form back to the postoffice. The stamp booklets will be shipped upon arrival.

Rushing said further forms would be distributed around the timeof the postage increase on May 12, and Stamps by Mail is thepreferred method of purchase.

“I wish we would have more sold by mail,” Rushing said. “Itwould reduce the line at the post office, and people wouldn’t haveto leave home to get their stamps.”

Rushing pointed out that even though the price of stamps isgoing up, the rate increase will not apply to all of the postoffice’s services, such as money orders, mail boxes and certifiedand registered mail. In fact, May 12 will also see theimplementation of a zoning plan, which will cause the price oflocal shipping to decrease.

“Currently, express mail is $16.25, but when the zones go intoeffect, local express mail will be $12.60,” Rushing said.”Overnight services are going down in certain instances.”

Rushing also offered some insight into the reasons behind thepostage increase.

Rates are determined by the Postal Regulatory Commission, whichmeets each May. Rushing said the commission’s meetings do notnecessarily signal a coming increase, however.

Rushing pointed to inflation as one possible cause for therising cost of stamps. He dispelled the popular belief that e-mailand instant communication is the culprit killing the postalservice.

“Mail volume has declined with e-mails and direct deposits, butthe post office has adjusted to that pretty good,” he said. “We areusing the computers, too.”

Rushing singled out the www.usps.com Web site for the UnitedStates Postal Service, where customers can purchase supplies andperform a number of postal functions, such as changing mailingaddresses. Rather than bring more people into the post office, thesite is designed to actually reduce lines, he said.