It has been almost fashionable to complain anytime there is an increase in the US postage rate. But are the charges that we pay really all that unreasonable? Let’s compare other forms of communication with the system and see how it measures up.
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Email has emerged as one of the quickest ways to communicate these days. There is no doubt that email is great for exchanging information quickly. However, many companies still depend on the good old-fashioned postal service to follow up those email exchanges, in spite of the periodic increase in the rate. Why is that? Simply put, original documents, carrying original signatures, are still the preferred way to document a business agreement. While emails may be great for deciding the content of the agreement, and may often be used to nail down the verbiage, the finished product ends up being sent out through the postal system. We are not likely to significantly change this practice any time soon.
In like manner, social obligations still often demand the use of a former reply via the regular post. As an example, there are many people who may use instant messaging or other means for many things, but would never consider extending a word of thanks through any medium but postal mail. Again, any increase will not change that. In fact, the increased rate may even elevate the reception of a thank you note to something even more proper and formal. For those who will only use a certain paper and believe the text of a proper thank you note must follow a time-honored pattern, the rise will be of little or no significance. A social obligation is still an obligation.
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Direct mail campaigns are actually seeing something of a comeback. The backlash among Internet users regarding unsolicited advertisements being sent via email has almost made it look a little less like an intrusion. The end result is that many companies are taking a second look at direct mail pieces, and are considering the rate to mail these pieces as being a worthwhile investment, based on historical returns. We can expect the direct mail industry to continue to grow, even if we see another increase in the next few years.
The US postage rate may be a favorite whipping post in the minds of the public, but the fact is most of us still continue to use the service every day. Chances are that we will continue to do so, no matter how many increases may be implemented over time. There are still times when nothing but a physical letter will do the trick, whether it be a form letter we read while relaxing in our favorite chair, or a thank you note written as a result of a kindness.