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USPS: Why Not Print Fewer Stamps?

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Valued Member
United States
194 Posts
Posted 09/20/2013   03:34 am  Show Profile Check stampCat7's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add stampCat7 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I have an idea! Why not CTO cancel the excess simpsons stamps and sell them to collectors at a huge discount? The way the USPS is issuing stamps these days it only follows that their stamps follow the pathetic path of countries that sell their stamps only to collectors, such as the plethora of stamps from some middle east countries in the late '60s and '70s. Seems to be the way they are heading with the ridiculous IMPERF PRESS sheets of late.
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Edited by stampCat7 - 09/20/2013 03:35 am
Bedrock Of The Community
United States
12128 Posts
Posted 09/20/2013   03:56 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add wt1 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
For the USPS anything is free reign as long as they can make a profit on it.

The Simpson stamps idea may have been nice back in the day, but the stamps were destroyed long before the media gave attention to the issue. It's kind of funny though, if the USPS had announced to the public they had a problem moving the Simpsons stamps and offered an opportunity for the public to go to a post office and buy them, they might have moved more stamps than they did. Instead, I believe the media got hold of the story after the destruction of the stamps took place, so that all of the ideas about alternative ways of moving the stamps fell on deaf ears.

One thing the Simpsons stamp fiasco taught the USPS is to hold down printing quantities of new issues and if something proved extremely popular, they could go back and reprint them. They already did so in 2013 for the Emancipation Proclamation Stamp, the Muscle Cars Stamps and the New England Lighthouse Stamps, among others.

My count may not be entirely accurate but for 2013, the USPS will have issued more than 164 face different stamps and have printed them in quantities (both commemoratives and definitives) in excess of 11 billion this year alone!

Printing stamps is relatively cheap; marketing them to collectors is where the USPS makes their money since most is pure profit since collector-purchased stamps seldom see postal use because most are relegated to stamp collector albums as modern day collectibles. Case in point: The upcoming Inverted Jenny reprint with a $2 denomination on each stamp. The collector interest in these will far outweigh any that will be used as postage and the USPS marketed them in just that way.
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Valued Member
United States
194 Posts
Posted 09/20/2013   07:19 am  Show Profile Check stampCat7's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add stampCat7 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Don't forget the absurdly priced $200 philatelic collectible for the inverted jenny stamp.
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
1566 Posts
Posted 10/01/2013   8:06 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mkfarm to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
i don't mind the wide variety and number of new stamps at all. It makes this hobby fun for me and I enjoy just looking over the many different issues. If I was looking for high investment collectible then I would buy in that direction. However I don't care for that side of stamps.

The one thing about stamps is that you have many choices and I am not in favor of the PO making investment collection stamps at all. If anything let it happen naturally or by mistake.

I don't expect to get a fraction of what I put into my stamps. However the enjoyment has no price tag on it, I just couldn't buy this much fun for so little money.
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187 Posts
Posted 11/27/2013   1:22 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add JR1960 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'm from a manufacturing background, where overproduction is a classic problem in the traditional "batch & queue" business models. You forecast, build huge lots of parts to that forecast, and then sit on the inventory and hope your forecast was right. Obviously with 34% overproduction, USPS has a big problem.

This forces us to ask the question, why not just build what we need when we need it? Smaller batch sizes, smaller deliveries, more flexible production schedules...USPS should (assuming they haven't already) follow the Toyota Production System (I don't like Toyotas but their production system is the gold standard in business models). Stop the problem at the source, which is producing too much to being with. It's just not necessary any more given that there are innovative solutions to these problems now.
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United States
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Posted 11/27/2013   2:41 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add khj to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The current problem is not really overproduction of stamps. I wuold say one of the major problems is poor distribution of stamps.

I visit several different post offices in large metropolitan areas. Except for the largest/main post offices, more than 50% of the time I am UNABLE to purchase commemoratives -- they are OUT of stock or the branch manager decided not to order them.

I was told by managers that they have been given strict limits on how many new commemoratives they can order each time, and they get sold out very quickly. One admitted they were too busy that month to add commemoratives to the order.

Many small low-volume post offices or very large high-volume post offices don't have this problem because either customer volume is low or their stamp budget is very high.

It's been very frustrating, and the answer is always they same -- you can order from Kansas City.

To me, it's an administrative problem from higher up. They print the stamps, but they don't publicize or distribute them properly. It's easier to say nobody wants them and blame someone else, than actually sit down and work out the logistics to get the stamps to all the post offices. This was never a problem for me until about 10 years ago. Since then, the problem of not being able to buy commemorative stamps seems to affect quite a few branch post offices in many parts of the country. I don't have time to run to the smaller low-volume/rural post offices to be assured of being able to buy commemorative stamps -- they are too far out of the way for me.
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Bedrock Of The Community
United States
12128 Posts
Posted 11/27/2013   2:57 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add wt1 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
khj: You're reciting the exact problem found by the USPS Office of the Inspector General. See this link and the related links contained therein if you're interested in the detailed findings:

http://www.fiercegovernment.com/node/90148/print
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
6745 Posts
Posted 11/27/2013   3:58 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add khj to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the link, wt1! I missed this thread when it came out a year ago, and only noticed it when it got bumped. I admit I only had time to skim through the early posts.

They could have some some investigative money and just called me. Fortunately, I no longer collect most new US stamp issues. However, there are some commemoratives I like to use for special large mailings. It's stupid that I have to run to 3-4 post offices over a course of a week to try to get them.

I know, I know, order from Kansas City...
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United States
95 Posts
Posted 05/08/2014   01:34 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Chewie to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It might be just as simple as to not having such a large variety of stamps each year. I know it is easier than ever now to computer design a stamp and have the issue ...uh..issued. look at the year set amounts now compared to the earlier days say even back to the late 70's early 80's. better yet mid-60's. a year set was average of say 12 issues and they usually were not re-done for later years (exceptions of course). granted the stamp face value was much less, but a year set cost a few dollars not near $100: example 1965: 16 commemoratives about $6.95 mint, 2010 year set 51 stamps for $81.95 mint. (and this does not include regular issue) If we could cut back on year set quantities, bmaybe people would be more apt to buy up the so called overstock of various issues. email/internet media has not helped either with people doing instant message/phone or email instead of snail mail.
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Posted 05/19/2014   11:58 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add JR1960 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
khj, there may be a distribution problem, but how many people are actually like you and request commemoratives? I'd be surprised if more than 1% request them.

As someone intimately involved with sales forecasting, production planning, and logistics, I can assure you that distribution is always a factor in sellthrough. But it is difficult to imagine that a 66% sellthrough rate is primarily a distribution problem.

The 2012 holiday season distribution snafu was an issue on top of the existing one.
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Posted 05/19/2014   2:02 pm  Show Profile Check Battlestamps's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Battlestamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
One of my local postal clerks recently told me that a lot of post offices are being forced to cut back on stamp inventories as apparently there's been a rise in theft and robberies at post offices for the stamps. As a result, I sometimes have to go to 5-6 post offices now to find what I need and few are bothering to stock the $2 or greater face value stamps. This is in the eastern New York, Bennington VT and NW Massachusetts area. It might have something to do with the rise of heroin use in the area as drug-related break-ins are on the rise in general.
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Rest in Peace
United States
7097 Posts
Posted 05/19/2014   2:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add I_Love_Stamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
OK,what drug dealer is going to accept a roll of postage stamps for heroin? lol I think they just print to darn many and are extremely wasteful in doing so. They're also more-or-less just stickers now.

EDIT:
Just for clarifications sake I'm not debating your information which I'm sure is correct but it just made me think about the USPS wastefulness.
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Edited by I_Love_Stamps - 05/19/2014 2:19 pm
Pillar Of The Community
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Posted 05/19/2014   6:43 pm  Show Profile Check Battlestamps's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Battlestamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I Love Stamps: There's been quite a few ads on Craigslist where rolls of stamps are being sold for less than face value. Some of these, if not most are stolen. Thief sells stamps for cash and then buys the drugs. Heroin use is a growing epidemic here in the Northeast. A dose is cheaper than a 6-pack of average priced beer. My wife and a co-worker served on grand jury and learned quite a bit about the local trade and places to avoid.

Unfortunately, the changes at the post offices has really limited supply to the point I've walked out with nothing as they couldn't even offer one full sheet of commemorative stamps. I've had problems getting 34 cents, 21 cents, 70 cents, 91 cents and 4 cent stamps as well. Waves of Color stamps are non-existent. The USPS maybe printing a lot, but I'm not sure how they're selling them. I'm willing to buy, but I can hardly get a chance at a post office. A couple of years ago this was not a problem and it was exactly the opposite - I could get anything I wanted.
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