‘Forever’ gets a little cheaper

Books of 20 stamps set you back $9.80. Soon they'll be just $9.40.

Books of 20 stamps set you back $9.80 each. Soon they'll be just $9.40.

What does a first-class stamp cost? The price is “Forever,” it says. How much is that? Any day now, to my surprise, it will be two pennies less.

It was a surprise because, sad to say, I had not been paying attention to the postal news last year, or since. So when I was buying stamps Wednesday, I was puzzled when the friendly lady at the post office wanted to know if I needed them right away. Huh? Well, she explained, if I didn’t need them right away, I might want to wait a few days. Because then they would be less expensive.

What’s a stamp cost now, I asked. I had lost track because of all that “Forever” stuff. Forty-nine cents is the answer. And soon it will be 47 cents instead.

Catching up, as pieced together from various online informants, the story goes like this: Postal rates went up more than the usual percentage in January 2014 as an emergency measure to help get the service out of its deep financial hole. Some mailers went to court, and an appeals court decided the emergency rate hikes could not become permanent. As soon as the revenue target from the increase was reached, the new rates would have to cease. The service went to Congress trying to get permission to keep the higher rates, in vain. So this February, the service released new rates. In a filing since then, it said the new rates would take effect April 10.

You probably already knew all that. Or maybe not. After all, a change in the price of a stamp no longer burns up the news wires, not like the days when a stamp cost a nickel and even a one-cent bump merited a big national debate. (hh)

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