No Wait…and Customization!

Written by Julie Determann, Account Supervisor

OurTWOSense: No Wait... and Customization

In a dated Washington Post article entitled “Post Office to Eliminate Stamp Machines”, it stated: “The U.S. Postal Service plans to eliminate its 23,000 vending machines by 2010.” The reasoning to remove the machines included:  the plethora of other places stamps could be purchased, the cost to repair/update aging vending machines, the lack of use of the machines, and the complications to keep up with the US Treasury Dept.’s currency changes.

However, it is now 2012 and the USPS postage vending machine still exists, or at least a modified version of what it used to be, resides at my local Chicago suburban post office. I personally feel that the stamp vending machine, or should I say the “Automated Postal Center” is a great convenience and supplement to the U.S.P.S.’s customer service staff.  I appreciate the fact that I can run in and out of the post office in under ten minutes, smartly avoiding the customer line that wraps around the office and usually out the door. And I love the ability to purchase multiple books of stamps promptly, using my credit card. Quick, convenient and easy… are words that we do not often associate with the good old U.S.P.S.

So you can imagine my surprise when I stepped up to the machine to buy my booklet of Forever Stamp and was prompted to answer a few more questions. “Please select your custom image”…What? Do I want a heart, a United States flag, a bouquet of flowers, a smiley face, etc.  “In love” with the ability to choose, I selected the heart image. Then my strip of black, QR coded “custom” stamps printed out (see below).

stamps

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Not exactly what I was expecting…Am I at the shipping machine, I wondered staring down at the basic black and white labels in my hand? I literally stepped back to take a closer look at the vending machine. Nope, these are the new digital Forever stamps.  Apparently, sometime in April and May of this year, the U.S. P.S. started converting their kiosks. All stamp machine transitions were projected to be completed by September this year.

Is customization a good idea? Yes. Do the stamps look better? No. The stamps are bigger in size and drab in terms of color and picture. Possibly, if it was more of an image instead of clipart…But regardless of the “look” I am still going to use them. If you haven’t already guessed by looking at the new stamps, the real reason for the change, was to include the QR code on the stamp. This new enhancement will allow the post office to more efficiently monitor, track and deliver mail which of course is a definite plus.

But, I am guessing that the overall consensus will feel that the new stamps are not as pretty or as much fun to apply to holiday cards. If you find this idea troubling, you might want to consider making custom photo stamps online at Zazzle.com, buying prettier stamps from the USPS online postal store, heading to your local grocery store for the standard booklet of stamps…or I suppose, you could just wait in line at the Post Office.

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(Originally posted October 2012)