Court Orders USPS to Lower Cost of First-class Stamp
The price of a postage stamp will roll back from 49 cents after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the temporary rate hike put into effect by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in January 2014 would not be made permanent, according to The Washington Post.
In 2013, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) gave the USPS permission to raise the cost of a stamp from 46 cents to 49 cents due to emergency conditions—the USPS’ loss of billions of dollars in revenue during the recession. This made for the largest rate increase by the USPS in 11 years.
However, the decision from the PRC also stated that the USPS could only earn back $3 billion from the increase, which will be a mark hit this summer.
In response to the PRC’s decision, both the USPS and the bulk mailing industry filed legal challenges once the rate increase began. The USPS said the increase should be made permanent, and the bulk mailing industry argued against the recession as justification for the rate hike.
According to the ruling passed by the appeals court, the rate increase was made in light of “extraordinary financial circumstances,” but that the circumstances are no longer considered extraordinary; today’s economy is “the new normal.”
The appeals court ruling also told the PRC to re-examine its methods, after informing it the commission had acted “arbitrarily” in regards to determining how much the USPS should collect from the increase.
“We are happy that the court rejected the Postal Service attempt to make a temporary surcharge last forever,” said Stephen Kearney, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers. “Maintaining the affordability of mail will help ensure that our nation’s postal system remains healthy for years to come. Stamps should be forever, but not surcharges.”
There is no official date for when the rate increase will end, and there has not been a new price for stamps announced yet.