Local postal workers couldn’t seem to deliver two-cent stamps fast enough to customers Monday.

“We’ve sold more two-cent stamps today than anticipated,” said Betty Roach, postmaster for the local U.S. Postal Service.

“One of our retail specialists out of Jackson came to the Meridian area today and he’s been spending time out at the North and West stations helping them,” Roach said.

“He just called and said, ‘Betty, I sold $500 worth of two-cents myself — just out in the lobby, trying to help keep the lines down.”

New postage rates went into effect Monday and caught many people by surprise.

“People have been calling us all day asking, ‘Did stamps go up today?’” Roach said. “We’ve been putting the word out about the increase for several weeks, but people still seemed surprised.”

The price of a First-Class Mail stamp increased from 39 cents to 41 cents. But the biggest change is a new pricing system based on the shape, not just the weight, of mail.

According to postal officials, the new pricing system reflects that the cost for handling letters, large envelopes and packages differs. Customers can reduce their mailing costs by choosing different packaging.

“This applies to odd-shaped parcels in particular. They won’t go through the parcel sorters, have to be kicked out and hand-automated,” Roach said. “If a package is not machine compatible, customers are going to have to pay extra. This saves money — if we can run it through a machine and automate it — and man hours.”

For example, if the contents of a First Class Mail large envelope are folded and placed in a letter-sized envelope, customers can reduce postage by as much as 39 cents per piece. If the contents of a First Class Mail package are laid out to fit into a large envelope, customers can save 33 cents per piece.

Shaped-based pricing creates a more flexible rate system by giving mailers the opportunity to obtain lower rates if they find ways to configure their mail into shapes that reduce handling costs for the postal service.

With the new emphasis on shape in its pricing, Roach said the postal service is also reducing the additional ounce rate. As mail pieces become heavier, the new additional ounce price declines. For letters over one once, the new prices are actually lower than previous prices.

To better prepare customers for any future increases for a 1-ounce single piece First Class Mail letter, Roach recommends purchasing the Forever Stamp.

“It’s a 41-cent stamp. If you purchase it today and you have it 10 years from now, it will still be good,” Roach said. “The postal service plans to continue making them year after year, even with the price increases. But the next Forever Stamp will be the next stamp increase.”

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