Linn’s recently received a complaint from reader Kelly Armstrong, who was upset because he was unable to buy the A Charlie Brown Christmas stamps on the first day of issue, Oct. 1.
Linn’s saw this as an opportunity to reach out to the United States Postal Service and to help a fellow collector.
Armstrong is also a cachetmaker, so we understand his frustration at not being able to buy stamps on the first day of issue.
“This past June, I retired as a buyer with a large OEM [original equipment manufacturer] after 30+ years. I am a life member of the Rochester Philatelic Association, and belong to the APS, AFDCS, and USCS. I am also a cachet maker, www.armstrongcachets.com.
“Today, Oct. 1, is the first day issue of the new Charlie Brown Christmas stamps. I contacted two different USPS facilities in Rochester today, and was told these probably wouldn’t be available until mid-October. …
“Sadly to say, this is not the first instance of a delay in availability by the USPS. The postal authority is constantly expressing concerns about decreases in revenue. How can they advertise a first day date but not have product available? You can’t make a sale if you don’t have the product. …”
Linn’s receives similar complaints from time to time, so we asked Mary-Ann Penner, acting director of stamp services for the USPS, what might have happened.
Penner responded to our inquiry:
“Thank you for bringing Mr. Armstrong’s concerns to our attention. It was disturbing to learn of his frustration.
“We anticipated the popularity of the ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Forever stamps and doubled the amount of stamps we normally distribute to Post Offices.
“The stamps were in stock in advance of the First-Day-of-Issue. Unfortunately the retail associates at the two Rochester locations were not aware they were available for sale.
“Management has since put in place procedures to ensure our retail associates are aware of new stamps and their on-sale dates. …
“Again, thank you for bringing this to our attention and allow me to apologize to Mr. Armstrong for this error.”
With a corporation as large as the Postal Service, it can be expected that things will sometimes go wrong on the local level.
Successful businesses know that when a problem arises, it’s best to find a solution quickly.
We appreciate the speedy response from Penner and her team at the USPS. We take this as another sign that in the past year, the Postal Service has become more sensitive to the needs of stamp collectors, and we applaud this change.