Stamp Shortage Caught Everyone By Surprise


Some customers at Rim Country post offices are more than a little hot under the collar over restrictions placed on stamp purchases this week, and are wondering why the U.S. Postal Service is not providing the stamps to cover the rate increase.

The little post office in Pine has run out of 2-cent stamps twice. Postmaster Cindy Hand expects a delivery to replenish her supply next Friday. Payson's post office is out of the 2-cent stamps until Wednesday and is limiting the number of 1-cent stamps it sells.

Lori Shewey, acting postmaster, said there are only 5,000 of the 1-cent stamps left, so individuals can only buy sheets of 50 and businesses can get 100. But she expects to run out today. Pine still has plenty of the 1-cent stamps, Hand said.

Hand and Shewey have different ideas about why there is a shortage. Hand said the Pine post office has about 2,500 clients, but it has sold 12,000 2-cent stamps this week, so there might be a little hoarding going on. She said the demand has been shocking and wasn't really planned for. Hand also pointed out that there is only one stamp distribution center serving the entire state of Arizona and its staff is already putting in 12-hour days to keep up with the traffic in 1- and 2-cent stamps.

Shewey said she thinks not enough of the 2- and 1-cent stamps were printed. It's a nationwide problem, but she has not seen any official explanation for the shortage. She said the postal service is not allowing exchanges of the old stamps for the new ones, something that has been done with past increases. Shewey said no one realized the kind of demand there would be.

The office that oversees all the post offices in the state doesn't have an official explanation either, except to say, "It was an unusual rate change for us."

As an alternative, Shewey suggests people buy the new stamps. The Payson post office has plenty of rolls, books and sheets available.

Hand suggested people actually see how many 2- and 1-cent stamps they need to use the old stamps they have.

The stamp shortage is an inconvenience, but certainly not anything to get overly upset about. If you have a number of the old stamps to use, just set them aside, as Shewey suggests, and get a new book or two until the supply of the others arrives.

If you can, make use of the handy drop-boxes at town hall and the utility companies.

As we have seen this past year, effective, efficient planning is not a skill with which many of our government leaders and bureaucrats are blessed. But, to keep things in perspective, let's be grateful we are just concerned about stamps, and not hurricane relief.

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