Out There

postage increase

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on April 7, 2009

Now is that a snappy title or what?!?  This is the sort of hard-hitting, action-packed investigative journalism that you come here for.  Shocking revelations!  Buckle your seatbelt, brace yourself, and throw in your own cliche, here we go.  The ol’ USPS, bringer of most everything to our part of the world, is raising the price of a first class stamp all the way up to 44 cents, on May 11.  That is the only thing most folks around the country will really notice.  Us bushies however will see the cost of mailing our groceries home skyrocket.  And of course also the cost of buying locally will go up since everything local was mailed in by someone and we absorb the cost.  Let me qualify the term ‘skyrocket.’  Here are some examples:

Weight                       Old Price                       New Price

30                                  $11.81                             $15.37

40                                  $12.65                            $17.70

50                                  $13.41                            $19.26

60                                  $14.09                            $20.83

70                                  $14.70                            $22.39

So about now you’re thinking “OK, so you spend a few more bucks.”  Duuuuuuuuuuude.  You know how many boxes we mail in to ourselves?  Think of all the “stuff” in your life.  Food.   Toilet paper.  Furniture.  Anything we can fit in a small enough box and that can be broken down to 70# or less units gets mailed.  Our school’s “student store” brings in about 60 heavy boxes a month, so a cost increase overnight of around $400/month.  When my wife and I shop in anchorage for the next 5 months of groceries and supplies, we regularly mail around 30-something boxes.  So at around an extra $6 per box, it adds up.  The sky isn’t falling, but our purchase power is.

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4 Responses

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  1. David WIlliard said, on June 3, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    It’s sad that things go up in price but a stamp is still the best bargain you can think of. A letter goes across the country to any mailbox for 44 cents! I’m pretty sure USPS is losing money to do that in the bush of Alaska but it gets done anyway, doesn’t it?

    How is Fed Ex of UPS doing up there? Do they deliver everywhere? Or just where it’s convenient and they can make a profit?

    No fuel surcharges or hidden fees with USPS. When gas was at $4 down here did stamps double in price? No. Every penny in in gas amounts to $8 milion a year in costs.

    The Postal Service is the most trusted government agency and they take no tax money. They are self supporting. Again, sorry it hurts, but there are other organizations more deserving of critcism. And yes, I am a proud employee of USPS.

    • Pete said, on June 4, 2009 at 3:48 pm

      Hey Dave, thanks for the comment! I’m sorry my post was construed as criticism of the USPS. You will rarely find a bigger fan of the postal service than myself. Seriously, I’ve frequently told people what an amazing bargain a first-class stamp is.

      I was more trying to touch on the “reconciliation” of pricing that the USPS was doing between what they charge for shipping to bush Alaska and what it actually costs. This has been reported on in many places, including here (http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/rural/story/715834.html). While most of the country sees a 2 cent increase and very marginal increases for parcel post, we see a humongous increase. And as I understand it, they’re still losing tons of money, especially shipping to places like villages on the Aleutians or the Pribilofs or St Lawrence Island or whatever. So I’m not criticizing, but sharing an aspect of life here that is unique in that (a) our prices for shipping large goods are increasing so much, and (b) nearly everything we have around here arrives via US mail so it affects us more comprehensively than other geographic locales. I’m not trying to complain, just inform. Most people don’t have a clue and find it interesting.

  2. David Williard said, on June 4, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Thanks for your friendly response. Sorry, I couldn’t get your link to work. I do understand that you are taking a bigger hit because so much comes to you through the mail, but I’m not sure about the reconcilliation…I DO know that until recently, USPS had to charge the same amount to send a package from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale (30 miles) as they charged for a package going from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine. They were able to get that changed to allow more flexible pricing in order to compete with UPS and Fed EX. I’m guessing that is the issue you call reconcilliation? If so, I commiserate that you are probably taking a (another) whopping hit. I hadn’t thought of that angle. Yet, I am also guessing that I was right about UPS and FED EX not wanting your business. True?

  3. Pete said, on June 7, 2009 at 8:00 am

    You’re talking about the “zones” the usps uses. Like shipping from Alaska to WA state is a 6-zone leap, and to anywhere else is a 7-zone (maximum) charge. That isn’t the reconciliation I was talking about. I was referring to the increase of bypass mail rates. Are you familiar with bypass mail? It is how most of the commercial goods arrive in bush Alaska. It is sort of like parcel post, but it is all palatized and metered in bulk, and only certain people can mail stuff that way, and it is all sent as one unit direct to where it is going. Sorry about the broken link, it worked for me when I posted it. Let me put in another link: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/v-print/story/63541.html and also it appears the bypass mail increase was reduced (although individuals not using bypass will still have the same increase), see this story: http://community.adn.com/node/139253

    I’m not an expert on postal stuff, but deal with it a lot on a very local level. Maybe everyone had the same parcel post increases, and the only thing unique to AK was the bypass mail increase?

    UPS and FedEx deliver here, but (you’ll like this) FedEx, once it gets to their hub in Anchorage, puts a USPS priority mail sticker and postage on it and sends it on to the bush that way. UPS, I can only speak for my area, they send it from Anchorage to Bethel via Lynden Air Cargo, and then from Bethel to the outlying villages like mine via air carriers or the hovercraft. Our “UPS man” is the hovercraft agent.

    We can’t send anything FedEx. I think we can send it UPS if we have a shipping label, we just hand it to Moses the hovercraft agent, but I’ve never tried. This actually just came up because we have a vacuum that was recalled for safety reasons. The company will send us a shipping label to send back the old one. The label will arrive via USPS letter, but the shipping label is for…FedEx. I told them this won’t work, they responded that “FedEx goes everywhere” and refused to let me speak with a supervisor. I complained to the feds and sent an email, and got a prompt callback that they are working on getting me a prepaid USPS label. That was a week ago or so and still nothing since. We often have problems with companies that insist on fedex or UPS, or people who MUST have a street address. There are no street addresses. Mail goes to the post office, to a PO box, that is it. There are some stories on this phenomenon too, see this one: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2008851121_xboxnightmare13.html and related to it see this: http://community.adn.com/adn/node/139140


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