Stamps.com challenges USPS decision to end customized postage
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
Stamps.com has challenged the United States Postal Service’s decision to end the company’s customized postage program, arguing the decision should be delayed for two years to give incoming Postmaster General Louis DeJoy a chance to review the issue.
In a proceeding before the Postal Regulatory Commission, the California company stated, “We believe it is in the interest of all parties — and the general public — for the program to continue.”
The company, which is the only maker of the personalized stamplike indicia in the United States, disclosed the Postal Service’s intention to eliminate the program in a recent financial report. The USPS ordered Stamps.com to end its production of customized postage effective June 16.
In a May 17 filing with the commission, Stamps.com said that the elimination of the customized stamp program violates the Postal Service’s own rules and suggested the agency has “a customized postage option of its own,” which it is not eliminating. The USPS calls its customized postage the “Picture Permit Imprint Indicia” program; it was introduced in 2012.
“We believe some in the Postal Service were motivated in the decision to eliminate customized postage by a desire to avoid competition with commemorative stamps,” Stamps.com said in the filing.
Stamps.com said its product, known as PhotoStamps, has advantages over the Postal Service’s commemorative stamps.
“For example, a Love stamp is not a satisfactory substitute for a photo from a couple’s proposal or a favorite photo together,” Stamps.com said.
“Similarly the Scooby Doo stamp is not the same as a customized postage stamp of the birthday boy or a beloved pet.”
The company’s filing, signed by Nicholas Barranca, vice president of government affairs for Stamps.com, disputed some of the Postal Service’s reasoning for dropping the program.
It noted that Stamps.com pays the USPS a $325,000 licensing fee for the program and benefits from the program because “a large portion of the postage is never used at all.”
“Contrary to USPS’ findings, our analysis shows that the demand for customized postage is strong and had increased over time,” the filing said.
It said that the correct face value for customized postage sold in 2019 was $15.25 million, not the $10.45 million the USPS had cited in its filing.
It said the program could be stronger if Stamps.com could issue its product as “forever stamps” and for bulk mailings.
As for the Postal Service being sued over what images could be placed on customized postage, Stamps.com said it believes the agency should remove restrictions it placed on religious images in 2017.
“The other image restrictions already in place are more than adequate,” it said.
The future of the customized stamps came before the Postal Regulatory Commission because the USPS filed a motion to remove customized postage from its mail classification schedule.
Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said that the USPS stands behind its decision to end the program.
“After careful consideration, the Postal Service has concluded that the Customized Postage program constitutes an unacceptable risk to our legal brand and business interests that outweighs any countervailing benefits, given the program’s declining demand, its insignificant contribution to the Postal Service’s revenues and the availability of alternatives,” he said.
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