What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell Us

Save time and the USPS, use a pre-stamped envelope!

Jennifer Collins Nov 12, 2010

Save time and the USPS, use a pre-stamped envelope!

Jennifer Collins Nov 12, 2010


Bob Moon: The U.S. Postal Service delivered bad news today. It announced it lost $8.5 billion dollars in the last fiscal year — more than double what it lost the year before. And it says without federal help, it’ll go broke by the end of the next fiscal year.

But don’t expect your local mail delivery to disappear yet. Help just might come in the form of a greeting card — or actually lots of them, as Marketplace’s Jennifer Collins reports.

Jennifer Collins: The postal service has been fighting a losing battle with online communication. ‘Til now, it’s had goofy ads. Special deals. Goofy ads with special deals.

Postman in USPS commercial: Plus I can pick it up for free.

Customer: Perfect! ‘Cause we have to get that out of our house.

Postman: Oh come on, it’s not that bad.

Scary music

Postman: Oh yeah, it’s gotta go.

So now it has a new plan. The post office may soon allow greeting card companies to sell pre-stamped envelopes with their cards. Marissa Gluck of Radar Research says in doing so, the post office is tapping into a very basic human tendency.

Marissa Gluck: Laziness. People are really busy around the holiday time, so being able to eliminate one extra trip to the post office is really appealing.

Each pre-stamped envelope could add about 48 cents to the cost of the card. That’s four pennies more than the usual stamp. John Gourville is a marketing professor at Harvard Business School.

John Gourville: I do think there’ll be that sticker shock though.

So, if you buy a box of 20 stamped cards, it’s gonna cost you $9.60 more than that box of unstamped cards nearby. The post office predicts this could bring in $10 to $20 million in the first year. But not this year. The post office says it’ll roll out the program in February.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.