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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 7, 2006

You'd better mail that letter today if you want to lick postal inflation

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

Randy Furushima, of Moanalua, bought 2-cent stamps to cover the difference when letter rates go from 37 cents to 39 cents tomorrow.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Bob Thomas of Kane'ohe was one of several customers who went to the post office yesterday hoping to beat a rate increase set for tomorrow.

"I mailed early to beat the rate hike," Thomas said yesterday, adding that he has about 10 more 37-cent stamps and he might return to the post office today.

Most postage rates and fees will increase by about 5.4 percent, with the cost of a first-class letter rising from 37 cents to 39 cents. Postcard stamps will go up by 1 cent to 24 cents.

Customers with the old 37-cent stamps will be able to buy 2-cent stamps at post offices, stamp machines, automated centers and online, said Duke Gonzales, postal service spokesman.

There had been talk about a shortage of the 2-cent stamps but Gonzales said he heard that it was not an issue here, but on the Mainland.

"We're working behind the scene to make sure there is ample supply everywhere," he said. "So, barring the really freaky unusual circumstance where one person goes out and buys up every 2-cent stamp at a particular office, we should have ample supply."

Some residents who were at the Kane'ohe Post Office yesterday said they were sending mail and purchasing stamps in anticipation of the new rates, which they said were reasonable.

"I don't think it's a big increase," said Diana Perlin, who had purchased 3-cent stamps out of a machine to cover the higher rate.

"I don't mind because it's giving those people a job, benefits. I'm a union worker and I believe in having some benefits, like medical."

Perlin said she wasn't sure what the price increase would be and figured she was covered with her purchase.

Compared to other nations, the first-class rate in the U.S. is still low, Gonzales said. For instance Canada charges 43 cents, Germany 53 cents and Japan 69 cents.

"Some countries have several different first-class rates based on zones in those countries," he said. "The U.S. has a universal rate for all."

The governors of the U.S. Postal Service voted Nov. 14 to accept the Postal Rate Commission's recommendation to increase most rates and fees, Gonzales said.

The increase the first since 2002 will be used to fulfill a congressional mandate for the U.S. Postal Service to place $3.1 billion in an escrow fund by October.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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