ROBERT SHIKINA / RSHIKINA@STARBULLETIN.COM
A line of people waited yesterday at the post office in Ala Moana Center. Many were there to buy 2-cent stamps and mail packages before a postage rate increase hits tomorrow. CLICK FOR LARGE
Post offices packed before rate hike
The cost for a first-class letter rises 2 cents tomorrow
With the cost of mailing a first-class letter going up 2 cents tomorrow, several post offices were busier than normal yesterday with people rushing to buy 2-cent stamps or mailing items before the rate hike.
"Today was the worst ever, worse than Christmas," said Tracy Connor, a postal employee at the Ala Moana post office, where there was a constant line yesterday afternoon. "Because of the stamp increase and Mother's Day, it's a double whammy."
NEW SHIPPING COSTS
First-class letter (1 oz.): 41 cents
First-class letter (2 oz.): 58 cents
Postcard: 26 cents
Priority mail flat box: $8.95
Priority mail (1 lb.) : $4.60
Express mail (1/2 lb.): $16.26
Express mail (1 lb.): $19.50
Express mail (2 lbs.): $21.40
» On the Net: www.usps.com/prices
The cost of a first-class stamp will rise to 41 cents from 39 cents tomorrow.
Duke Gonzales, a Postal Service spokesman, said the traffic was also heavier at the Airport branch. He expects heavier business tomorrow, with people rushing for more stamps to mail their items.
Customers should wait until later in the week to mail packages if they want to avoid waiting in line, he said.
As part of the overhaul, the Postal Regulatory Commission, whose recommendations were acted on by the Postal Service's Board of Governors, suggested a "forever stamp," which is also on sale now. It will cost 41 cents -- the same price of a first-class stamp -- and could be used eternally even when postal rates rise in the future.
Tomorrow's stamp price increase is the third in five years.
But another change is generating some controversy. For the first time, the Postal Service will take shape along with weight into consideration for shipping costs of packages. Flats, which are large envelopes and parcels, will be subject to higher rates.
The switch to a shape-based system is aimed at encouraging bulk mailers to alter the design of mailings and packages to allow for easier and more efficient sorting by the Postal Service.
The Postal Service says the rate plan more accurately covers the cost of mailing packages.
Gonzales said the new pricing could help businesses reduce their mailing costs.
For example, the mailer can save money by sending a parcel as a flat or a flat as a letter envelope.
Many shrugged off the new postal rates yesterday.
"It's not a huge jump. There's nothing you can do about it," said Kailua resident Michelle Miyashiro.
Small-business owner Tina Kurz was holding boxes stacked up to her chin while waiting in line at the Ala Moana post office.
Kurz, who sells skin-care products online, mails about 15 packages a week, but mailed five times that amount this week in anticipation of the shipping price increase.
She didn't have time to study the new rate plan for packages yet. "I was so busy shipping everything out today," she said.
So she's not sure if she'll have to raise shipping fees for her products.
"We'll just have to see," she said.
Newhouse News Service contributed to this story.