Washington Postal Scene — By Bill McAllister
John Wells would seem like a wonderful customer of the United States Postal Service.
For at least 20 years, the British stamp collector says he has been buying the latest U.S. stamps by mail from Stamp Fulfillment Services in Kansas City, Mo., spending “several thousand dollars each year via my credit card.”
But after Wells placed his latest stamp order for $1,270.52 worth of U.S. stamps on July 27, he got a stunning surprise.
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“Due to enhanced security precautions, Stamp Fulfillment Services will no longer accept credit card payment for foreign orders,” said an unsigned Aug. 11 letter that was returned with his unfilled order.
A Postal Service spokesman confirmed for Linn’s that Stamp Fulfillment Services is no longer accepting credit cards from foreign customers.
“The Postal Service — not SFS — has instituted no longer accepting foreign credit cards in order to prevent fraud and protect our assets,” said the Aug. 18 statement.
Linn’s had asked what percentage of sales would the policy affect. The brief statement said that information was “deemed proprietary” and would not be disclosed by the Postal Service.
The USPS also offered no further explanation of what had prompted that change.
U.S. customers can still use credit cards to make stamp purchases.
The change for foreign customers was noted in the spring issue of USA Philatelic in small type under the payment section for “foreign orders.”
“Payment for foreign orders may only be made by check preprinted in U.S. fund or a draft drawn on a U.S. bank,” a notice on the order form said.
Wells said he saw that notice, but when he called the Postal Service’s toll-free number he was told “that there had been a few changes, but to send my order in the usual way.”
“This I did and the stamps duly arrived,” he told Linn’s.
When he placed his July 27 order, however, he got the order back and an unsigned letter that began, “Thank you for your recent philatelic order with our office.”
The letter also suggested he use the USPS store on eBay.com and “utilize their PayPal payment method.”
Wells said he didn’t like “the way Paypal operates when it comes to controlling your money.”
“Payment by cheque seems too complicated,” he said.
“Paying by credit card is for me the simplest method of payment and I am in control of my own funds,” Wells told Linn’s.
Wells, a resident of Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire, said he was stunned that the USPS would reject his credit card.
“The USPS must be flush with funds if they can afford to reject such revenue,” he said, referring to the Postal Service’s well-known financial problems.
And, he added, “There must be numerous foreign collectors and dealers that buy their stamps particularly since they are so popular.”
Wells did not say what he will do about his unfilled order.
First, he said he would like an explanation from the Postal Service.
“I look forward hopefully to why I, and no doubt other foreign customers, have suddenly become a security risk.”
Wells said he is a longtime member of the American Philatelic Society, the National Duck Stamp Collectors Society, and the American Stamp Club of Great Britain, as well as being a life member of the British Civil Services Philatelic Society.