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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Postage stamp costs, shipping fees go up

Residents planning to mail a letter or send out flat-rate boxes and envelopes will be digging deeper into their pockets after the U.S. Postal Service’s new rates took effect on Sunday.

Some USPS customers interviewed yesterday were unaware of the rate increase in the agency’s mailing and shipping services, which was announced as early as October 2012 and approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission later.

USPS stamp prices saw a one-cent increase or from 45 cents to 46 cents in sending a one-ounce First-Class Mail. The cost for letters that weigh more than an ounce remains unchanged at 20 cents per additional ounce.

Postcard postage also increased by a penny and is now at 33 cents, while the cost to send letters to international destinations went up to $1.10.

USPS also has new prices for its Priority Mail Flat Rate products. A small box will now cost $5.80, a medium box $12.35, a large box $16.85, and a large APO/FPO box $14.85.

For envelopes, a regular size will ship for $5.60, a legal envelope for $5.75, and a padded envelope for $5.95.

The new rates come a year since the cash-strapped USPS last increased its fees. The organization does not receive tax dollars and relies on the sale of available products and services to fund its operations.

But copies of the latest fee table are not shown anywhere at the Saipan branch of USPS in Chalan Kanoa.

Saipan Tribune learned that USPS has been visiting private postal service establishments to inform them about the new rates.

“I wish they had put on display these new rates so that customers would become aware that they now need to pay more when sending mails. Not everyone has Internet access to log on to the USPS website and be informed about the new rates,” said Elmer Barrogo, an employee of a law firm and courier service.

Barrogo said his company sends up to 500 pieces of regular and certified mails per week on behalf of clients that are mostly government agencies and law offices.

“I’m lucky that I have fewer mails to send out today,” Barrogo said Monday. He ended up paying for the additional charges himself.

Another customer, a female who works in a private company, said she too was unaware that USPS increased its rates starting Jan. 27.

She said the rate hike would mean additional expense for her when sending a care package for her family members who have relocated to the mainland.

Kate Xu-Miao, a staffer at PMB Postal Press in Garapan, said the postmaster himself informed her of the new rates when she picked up packages and mails for their customers. Miao said they were referred to the USPS website for more information on the price change.

“We already know about the increase and we informed our customers right away,” she said.

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