Monday, December 16, 2013

The price of a letter

Canada Post announced on last week that in March letter rates will be going up to 85¢/$1 for a domestic letter (I haven’t been able to figure out if the US and international rates get the extra hike too or just the expected hike in January). There’s a whole bunch of rhetoric about it flying around the interwebs right now with arguments for and against the rate hike (and a phasing out of mail carriers and some job losses). I haven’t linked because there is so much of it and so much of it is changing. The most confusing part is the two rates for a domestic letter – it all depends on whether you purchase a single stamp or a booklet of stamps. Booklets have a less expensive per stamp cost. But what is the value of a “P” stamp?

We send a lot of mail at our house. We like mail. We belong to Postcrossing and J and I both write letters to penpals and friends. I know we’re rare, but our personal mail far exceeds our bills. Lots of postcrossers like stamps as well as postcards…so sometimes we put multiple stamps on our cards…I will likely stop using perpetual stamps for those and stick to numbered stamps because who knows what that “P” stamps is really worth.

But what really is the price of a letter? I’ve seen so many people say this is the way Canada Post should be going because we can send email and attach pictures and send text messages. Who cares about mail?

I care…I’ll continue to shell out for the more expensive stamps because I like to open that envelope and savour that letter. I like seeing the wear and tear from the letter’s journey. You can sometimes see the way a letter writer’s emotions change through a letter in the way that their handwriting shifts. Letters are better for sharing secrets. The mail I receive is worth more to me than the cost of the stamp and the postcard or paper…I love getting letters…don’t get me wrong, email is awesome too and I won’t stop using it, but it is so nice to get a letter from an old friend (or a new one) and take a few minutes to sit down and read (and reread) their words…the price of a letter might be $1, but its value is certainly greater.

I was also sad to hear they are phasing out postal carriers…I remember one mailman we had when I was a kid…I’d run out to meet him and he’d often have a mint for me. Remove the mail carriers and that personal connection is gone…the postal system isn’t really dead…I think ours just needs to be revamped…when I lived in the UK, I couldn’t believe the mail people sent and received and the efficiency of Royal Mail…next day delivery? Little notes just to say hi? Their postal system seems to still be working better than ours…

Should Canada Post be cost effective? Definitely. Should it be costing us money as taxpayers? Probably not. Is a revamp a good idea? Certainly…but making the price of stamps prohibitive isn’t really going to solve the problem…

Anyway…I rambled. A lot. If you want to do something cool and maybe help Canada Post stay relevant, check out Postcrossing. We love it!

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