Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Inflation-proof stamps

Once a, e.g., first-class stamp has been purchased, it will always cover first-class postage
  (+14, -2)(+14, -2)
(+14, -2)
  [vote for,

Rather than just having a monetary amount printed on them, the postal service should also print a code for a type of service on each stamp (e.g. FC for a 1oz first-class stamp, XZ for an extra-ounce first-class stamp, etc.) Even if the postal rates change, a once ounce letter could still be mailed domestically with an FC stamp (regardless of its printed denomination) and a two-ounce letter could be sent using an FC stamp plus an XZ stamp.

While the postal service would lose some revenue from the sales of those stupid 'make up' stamps, people would be more apt to buy stamps in advance of when they're needed, allowing the Postal Service to earn interest on that money. Such a system would also give the Postal Service more flexibility with bulk-pricing (e.g. it could sell a package of 300 "33-FC" stamps for $100, a slight discount vs the $0.34 first-class rate, while there's no way it could sell a $0.34 stamp for less than $0.34 each.)

supercat, Jan 10 2001

(?) The only picture of a British 1st Class stamp I could find http://www.royalmail.com/athome/
It's the orange thing in the circle. [Jim, Jan 10 2001]

1st class stamps http://www.woolwort...ml?PRODID=391010020
Baked already. Jim isn't lying Monkfish - I've used these stamps too. Incidentally, Britain is the only country which doesn't put the name of the county on its stamps. [hippo, Jan 10 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

New York subway tokens http://www.gothamga...ry/20030428/202/362
[spidermother, Feb 05 2006]

Forever stamps http://www.usps.com...m/2007/sr07_014.htm
[Gamma48, May 28 2007]


       Baked. 1st and 2nd class stamps are commonly used here in Britain. It's just a picture of the Queen's head with either "1st" or "2nd" written underneath it, valid for all inland letters regardless of when you bought the stamp.

And yes, some people do buy sheets of them before the price goes up.
Jim, Jan 10 2001

       Of course people are going to buy boatloads of stamps just before each rate increase. But consider two scenarios (assume the rates were about to go from 33 to 34 cents):   

       -1- Bob buys three 33-cent stamps today, and the Post Office puts his $0.99 in the bank. He uses them to mail letters next January; by that time the Post Office's $0.99 has grown to about $1.05 (due to interest).   

       -2- Alice waits a year before buying three stamps, which she uses immediately to mail three letters. Since stamps will sell for $0.34 next January, the Post Office will get $1.02.   

       Despite the "greediness" of Bob, the Post Office actually ended up with more money in the bank from his advance purchase than it would have from Alice's delayed purchase.
supercat, Jan 10 2001

       That's true as far as it goes, and it's kind of a good idea (albeit a baked one, if Jim isn't lying), but:   

       A rational consumer (we need not pretend that one exists; consider businesses), would only buy stamps which they intended to use before the opportunity cost of early buying (i.e., the return they would have realized if they had held on to the money) exceeded the savings. Heavy buying before rate increases would still cost the post office, if slightly.   

       A better way to deal with this problem might be to just not announce increases in advance. Of course, this creates its own problems.
Monkfish, Jan 10 2001

       Monkfish: I agree that the benefits to the post office from early purchasers would be mitigated somewhat by customers who reduced early purchases to minimize opportunity cost. This would be offset, however, by the fact that many people's decision of when to purchase stamps and how many to purchase is influenced not just by such opportunity costs, etc. but also by convenience. To purchase a bunch of 33 cent stamps and then have to buy those stupid $0.01 'make up' stamps to use them is a real pain; this nuisance factor considerably reduces many people's inclination to purchase many stamps in advance. By contrast, if someone who averages two letters a week knows that for $100 they'll not have to buy stamps again for three years, they're much more apt to take advantage of such an opportunity.
supercat, Jan 10 2001

       The downside of this is that audiences will no longer understand the dialogue towards the end of "Fargo".   

       NORM: Hautman's blue-winged teal got the twenty-nine cent.
People don't much use the three-cent.

       MARGE: Oh, for Pete's – of course they do!
Every time they raise the darned postage, people need the little stamps!

       NORM: Yah.   

       MARGE: When they're stuck with a bunch a the old ones!   

       NORM: Yah, I guess.   

       MARGE: That's terrific.
jutta, Jan 11 2001

       Jim is very much correct. Here in the UK the most commonly used stamps (standard inland 1st and 2nd class) dont have a value printed on them, just the "1st" or "2nd" text in the corner. This has saved the Post Office millions....the costs involved with changing the print runs whenever there was a price change.
ickledinkle, Jan 11 2001

       Under my proposal, the stamps would have prices printed on them, and could be either exchanged on the basis of that price or used for the indicated postal service, at the discretion of the bearer.   

       For example, suppose one has a bunch of "35FC" stamps, the first class rate is 40 cents, and one wants to mail a Priority Mail package which costs $7.00. One could, if so inclined, use twenty "35FC" stamps even though one could more cost-effectively use those twenty stamps to mail 20 letters (which would cost $8.00) and simply spend $7.00 cash to send the Priority Mail package.   

       One could think of each stamp as being a combination of a gift certificate and a coupon that entails the bearer to some postal service at a fixed price. One could use the "gift certificate" aspect without using the coupon aspect, but one would forfeit any value the coupon would have had.
supercat, Jan 11 2001

       FYI: The reason Britain has no need to print her name on her stamps is that the postage stamp was pioneered here. Good job really, as the UK has the second longest official name in the world - "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". I have noticed that when the price of stamps goes up, the Post Office will sell you, say 27p stamps instead of ones marked 1st. Does anyone remember 26p stamps? I can't.
rjswanson, Apr 06 2001

       In effect this would loan money to the postal service at the rate of increase in the cost of delivering the mail. If bulk mailers could pre-pay for years ahead this would advance a lot of money to the postal service. If only we could ensure that the money was used wisely....
hangingchad, Feb 04 2006

       To express my protest I will start using only 1 cent and 3 cent stamps on all of my envelopes. I bet that would be interesting to attempt to cancel 37 1 cents stamps on the front of the envelope.
Jscotty, Feb 05 2006

       Surely the post office (any government-run post office) isn't for-profit. The money can't be theirs to invest...   

       If they could, who decides what they invest in? I'd suggest stamps.
phoenix, Feb 05 2006

       Set thresholds on the number of stamps sold at a given amount. Once that amount has been printed, the next run sells for a penny more. The threshold value should be in the hundreds of millions, I suppose.
bristolz, Feb 05 2006

       The post office would also benefit from ruined stamps. Anything that encourages bulk buying of stamps will put more stamps at risk of destruction by water, fire, or other misfortune. The post office still gets paid for the stamps but doesn't have to deliver anything.
stilgar, Feb 05 2006

       Australia has inflation-proof postage-paid envelopes, but not stamps.   

       Related: New York subway tokens (link)
spidermother, Feb 05 2006

       phoenix: If a postal service treated an influx of money as some sort of windfall -- that would be unwise. Treated as a loan to be paid back by providing a service could lead to a wise use of the money for such things as retiring higher interest loans, more efficient facilities, trucks, etc.
hangingchad, Feb 05 2006

       The United States Postal Service began selling "Forever Stamps" on May 14. These stams are good for mailing one-ounce, FC letters anytime in the future.
Gamma48, May 28 2007


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