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Postage rises 1 cent today

many aren't bothered

January 08, 2001

Postage rises 1 cent today; many aren't bothered



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer


A penny saved may be a penny earned, as the saying goes, but even Benjamin Franklin, the country's first postmaster, couldn't mail a letter today unless he adds a penny to a 33-cent stamp.

Effective today, a first-class postage stamp costs 34 cents.

That means those who have books of 33-cent stamps have to buy one-cent stamps to affix to envelopes. Those who planned right should be out of the old stamps and have replaced them with the new, higher-priced ones.

The postal service is issuing temporary self-adhesive stamps with no denomination, only a picture of the Statue of Liberty and the words "USA first class."

A check at post offices Saturday in Hagerstown and in Shepherdstown, W.Va., found that most patrons aren't concerned with the price increase. Some say it's more of a nuisance than a hit to their pocketbooks.

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"Why don't they just raise it to 35 cents and be done with it instead of raising it one penny at a time?" said Cassandra Harbaugh at the Hagerstown Post Office.

Robin Wells, supervisor of customer service at that post office, said the last time first-class postage increased was in January 1999 when it went from 32 cents to 33 cents.

"Our rate increases have been under inflation," Wells said. "We needed to raise it minimally to cover increasing expenses and to stay competitive."

Wells said she has heard few complaints from postal customers about the latest increase.

"It's so irrelevant," said Kathryn McAteer as she was coming out of the Shepherdstown Post Office.

She has her own perspective on the postage hike.

"I don't really care. A penny doesn't really matter when you consider the magnitude of life," McAteer said.

"Phooey. I always have to do that," said Miriam Wilson, also of Shepherdstown, when she learned that postage was going up by a penny. "I have a whole bundle of 33-cent stamps. Now I'll have to buy a bunch of penny stamps."

"They need the money," said Mike Thompson as he was coming out of the office in Shepherdstown with a book of 20 new 34-cent stamps. "It's a nice new booklet with a new logo, but it looks cheap and it's not as handy as the old ones."

Deborah Hopkins was standing in line waiting her turn at a window in Hagerstown with her two children.

"It's fine," she said of the increase. "It's not that much for what they do."

Hopkins' daughter, Sara, 11, had a different take.

"It's going up gradually every year. By the time I get in college, it will be a dollar," she said.

John Grove likes the increase.

"That's all right. Let them go up. It will give me more money," he said.

Grove is president of a trucking company bearing his name that contracts with the postal service to haul mail.

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