In the 'good old days,' a stamp was a stamp, but to others stamps created intrigue. Perhaps it was the far-off lands depicted on the tiny pieces of paper or the adventures the images suggested. Whatever the reason, many people have been drawn to collecting stamps, First Day Covers, Postage Sheets, Blocks, Souvenir Pages, Commemorative Stamps and more. When life was simple, stamps were only as far away as a short walk to the Post Office. Those days seem long ago and incredibly different from the hustle and bustle of today. But one thing remains the same, stamps whether for collecting or use are still intriguing to many.
Today stamps are available at locations other than the USPS, and are often purchased at the local market, while traveling; at hotels and airports and even at some ATM machines. But despite being more accessible, they are not easier to get these days. Here’s why: Waiting in lines is not something most people have the time or patience for. The average week is filled with too much work to waste Saturdays in line at the local Post Office, which can feels more like a cross between an information booth and a coffee shop, is just not a good use of time. You could get stamps while at the grocery store, but most local market requires cash or debit card payment for stamps and lots of folks commonly use a credit card for purchases as a way of gaining some loyalty points. Clearly you could do a separate transaction, but is it fair to the others in line? What about ATMs? Some dispense stamps, but most do not.
As disciples of the information age, we are commonly tethered to my PC, and it has become the center of our worlds. Online banking and bill payment systems have saved countless hours and postage, so it’s no wonder that when we do have to go to the Post Office, that we stock up on lots of stamps. But do we have the correct postage for our mail? Truth is most of us don't send enough formal mail to use the stamps up before the rate changes, which nowadays feels like they are coming more frequently than ever before. Stamps make many of us "Go Postal," and we hate it! So, let's take a look at some alternatives that can solve our problem from home or office.
Described by Marvin Runyon, a former Postmaster General, as "available, on-call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," electronic stamps first came to market around 2003-2004. Stamps.com is one organization that today is still thriving. While the premise is similar to their competition – cutting down on trips to the Post Office, saving money when compared to postal meters like Pitney Bowes, making mail look professional, never overposting (overpaying for postage) and on demand printing choices— Stamps.com allows the customization of postage. If you want to commemorate the birth of a child, a special day or just share an image of your family, pet or favorite vacation moment, this online monthly subscription service makes it super easy.
Dymo recognized the need for a no-fee based service and provides Dymo Stamps as a utility for the users of their Dymo LabelWriter 400 Turbo, LabelWriter 400 Twin Turbo, LabelWriter Duo, LabelWriter 450, LabelWriter 450 Turbo and LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo. Designed with the small business owner in mind which likely does not care about personalization, the system manages letters and packages based on a no fee model – no monthly fee, no long term commitments, no hidden charges.
Endicia, now owned by Newell Rubbermaid, the parent company of Dymo, is marketing a more upscale solution focused on small to medium business (SMB) and supports envelopes to 70 pound packages. Offering a variety of postage choices and options, Endicia also recognizes that sometimes UPS (United Parcel Service) or FedEX (Federal Express) are better choices for your parcels. They compare costs and transit times so you can make decisions, not guesses. The Standard, Premium, Mac, Professional and Platinum Shipper programs have pretty much every function and feature you could want including free downloads of scale reading utilities like InstaRate. For their consumer base who wants to put their images on stamps, Picture It Postage is a great service although a bit costly in my opinion.
Years ago, buying Stamps was simple. You went to the US Post Office in your community, asked for a roll of stamps, paid for them and went home. Now we have even more choices. Choices that blend technology and service and are sure to save us time while providing great value.
Want to share your experiences with these or other postal products? Have a great stamp collecting story? Email labelvalue.com