, Newburyport, MA

February 1, 2014

Customers resigned as postage climbs

By Jim Sullivan

---- — NEWBURYPORT — The price of a first-class postage stamp increased three cents to 49 cents as of Monday — the latest in a series of increases in recent years, but local customers are taking it in stride.

“I don’t like it,” said Jane Button of Newburyport, “but they raise prices everywhere.”

Last year, the price of a first-class stamp rose by one cent, and as far as Harold Russell of North Andover is concerned, that’s just fine by him.

“For 49 cents, you can get a letter to anywhere in the United States,” Russell said. “I think that is a bargain.”

A West Newbury customer agreed.

“I don’t have a problem with it because we are still cheaper than Europe,” said S. Stevens said. “That’s the bottom line. I always have good service. When they say my mail is going to show up, it shows up. I am very happy with the postal system.”

Newburyport’s Mary Kebler was mailing a package at the post office this week, and was unaware of the increase.

“It doesn’t affect me at all,” Kebler said. “I feel it very little. I do almost everything online.”

Jim Noonan of Newburyport had heard about the postal increase a few weeks ago, and in response has started to make use of more online payment methods than he did in the past.

“I had just started to get involved with some online payments,” Noonan said. “But now I am really starting to expand that even more.”

The owner of Pleasant Street’s Greta’s Great Grains, Greta Reineke was stopping in to mail a few letters at the Newburyport Post Office this week, and only had one regret.

“I should have bought more Forever Stamps,” she said. “Last week I could have bought some.”

As a small business owner operating in the 21st century, Reineke said the increase in paper postage really won’t make that much of a difference to her.

“This does not affect me in the bottom line,” said Reineke. “It’s a minimum for me because I only need a few (stamps.) Everything is done online, more or less. I don’t complain about the post office.”

The current three-cent increase (an 11-year high) is said to be only temporary and last 24 months to offset recession-related costs, but customers were skeptical.

“I am a little skeptical that it is temporary, so I stocked up in advance,” Ruth Landreth, of Newburyport said. “I’m old-fashioned. I still mail in bills and payments. So I figured out what I needed.”

“I don’t believe it,” Button said. “Taxes and everything else always go up.”