LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Change ‘junk mail’ rates

Dec 7, 2011

However, this time the stamps will be “forever stamps” and not require additional postage when first class mail goes up again. So, we won’t need to go to the post office and get a sheet of 1-cent stamps to add to any stamps we have left. Big deal!

Nobody seems to understand why the post office is losing money. The only remedy offered is to increase the cost of first class mail. However, first class postage was increased last year when we had a similar shortfall, so it doesn’t seem that increasing first class postage is the answer to the problem.

Perhaps the answer lies somewhere else.

All of us get a lot of “junk mail.” For each piece of first class mail I get, I receive about seven pieces of junk mail. And, if you consider the weight, the junk mail outweighs first class by approximately 30-1. So, by the piece, less than 15 percent of my mail is first class. And, if you consider the weight, less than 3.5 percent is first class mail. This means that, in most cases, the mail delivery person handles very little first class mail compared to junk mail. So, when they raise first class mail by 5 percent, it is unlikely that this will effect the bottom line at all, especially if you consider that many people are now paying their bills using the Internet and many more will be doing this in the future.

All of this would be fine if the junk mail was paying its own way, but it seems obvious that it is not. So, in effect, the American taxpayers are subsidizing this junk mail. This means that the postage for the 12-page advertisement you received hawking pills and potions was in a large part subsidized by you. In fact, most of the unwanted mail you receive is subsidized in the form of very low postage costs.

We don’t know how much companies actually pay for mailing their ads because the ads do not have a stamp, but are machine-stamped postage paid. But, I’ll bet most people would be shocked to know. I do have a first class letter from an organization seeking donations that has an 8-cent stamp — perhaps this is the usual charge for first class letters of this type.

Also, consider this: The fact that we continue to receive all of this junk mail must mean that it costs the businesses very little to mail it. Over a year ago, we changed our cable, telephone and Internet provider; but at least once a month we receive a letter from our previous carrier asking us to come back. It would seem that if there was a substantial mailing cost (something like our first class rates) involved, we wouldn’t be getting all of these requests.

Besides advertisements involving health issues, we have the problem of requests for donations. We get at least three every day. Most of these are from supposedly nonprofit benevolent organizations imploring us to fund some worthy cause. I do not question the worthiness of organizations like the American Cancer Society and we do contribute to the Spring Lake organization every year. However, it must be that they sell their list of donators to other cancer organizations because we have received urgent requests from at least 30 different cancer organizations: local, county, state and federal. It seems that this is a huge waste of money that could be better spent on cancer research.

Again, if these organizations had to pay a bigger share of their postage costs, we would have fewer of these requests, and we would have far less mail which should lower costs and help the post office operate in the black.

Who sets the postage rates for junk mail? Can it be that some congressmen are in the pockets of the large advertisers?

— Sidney and Bette Hamstra, Spring Lake

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