What’s your price point to mail a letter?

This permanent stamp is still valid but regular postage in Canada has just jumped from 63-cents to $1.00 Photo: Lucy Martin

Regular postage in Canada just jumped from 63-cents to 85-cents by roll, or $1.00 as a single stamp. Photo: Lucy Martin

The price of stamps here in Canada has gone up, as of March 31st. It’s a pretty hefty hike.

A first-class stamp was $0.63. Now that’ll cost $0.85 – if purchased as a book or roll. The cost of just one first class stamp? $1.00.

The current rate in the U.S for an equivalent stamp is $0.49.

Permanent stamps are no longer being sold in Canada, for now at least. But they are still valid, at whatever price first purchased. (Non-denominated postage is sold as Forever stamps in the U.S., where they are still available.)

Which brings me to my question: from the consumer’s point of view, what’s the right “price point” to mail a letter? Price point being what customers expect to pay, or are comfortable paying. (In the business world, that should also cover costs, unless it’s a loss leader.)

A deeper discussion on price point from Running a Food Truck for Dummies illustrates the concept:

What does your local market consider a fair price for the food you’re preparing and serving from your food truck? You can’t just throw prices onto your menu without considering what your community is already paying for similar products from competing food trucks.

You must consider what other food truck businesses are charging for the same type of food you’re offering. If you’re going to charge more than your competitor for the same dish, you have to be able to justify your price with added value.

Of course, there’s usually only one company providing that particular service per country. And postal systems everywhere are struggling to cope with changes in how people communicate and rising costs. I don’t think postal services are ready for the dustbin of history. But how we communicate does change over time – no one sends telegrams anymore.

Here’s one take on that from a Maclean’s article about Lisa Raitt, a government minister who’s had to handle this topic:

…Raitt has also been in the news as minister responsible for Canada Post, as the Crown corporation moves to eliminate home mail delivery. On that contentious issue, her message, as usual, is blunt. Traditional to-the-door service is, she declares, just too expensive. Opposition MPs depict her as callous toward seniors who will have to walk to get their mail. “I think just being calm and rational isn’t a coldness,” she says. “It’s respecting people and telling them the truth, instead of a story that pushes off a decision because it’s not popular.”

What do you think? Is she right?

My own reaction to the sharply higher rates in Canada was this: “Who will pay that? It’s as if they want to kill the postal service.”

Which is not to take sides. I just think the idea of paying a whole buck (or more correctly, a loonie) to mail a letter won’t go down well with the older crowd, or the younger demographic that has fled that custom anyway. It’ll seal the deal on killing surface mail.

Current debate about proposed changes to postal services in Canada has its own nuances. And maybe that ship has sailed. Take this person-in-the-street query from the Ottawa Citizen that asked “When was the last time you mailed a letter?” Surface mail doesn’t seem that significant to many, and that’s from regular folks before this latest rate hike.

So, I’m curious. Do readers think it’s worth subsidizing surface mail delivery to keep the price point attractive enough to sustain use?

Or should the cost of a stamp more accurately reflect the cost of the service – and let the chips fall where they may? This isn’t just a Canadian story. The travails of the USPS are decidedly similar.

As a basis of comparison, here’s a chart from 2012 on what first-class stamps cost in various countries around the world, the most current such summary I could find.

Tags: , , , , ,

6 Comments on “What’s your price point to mail a letter?”

  1. Ellen Rocco says:

    I love the USPS. I’m willing to pay pretty much whatever it takes to keep the service alive. I find the notion of a national postal service somewhat miraculous. And, it links us universally like almost nothing else anymore.

  2. Pete Klein says:

    When you need to use the mail, you need to use the mail. I don’t think anyone sends mail just for the fun of it or to help the USPS stay in business.
    Digital formats are okay for quick notes but they tend to be impersonal. Nothing says you care enough as does a letter.
    I have heard and believe it is true, writing to an elected official is more likely to get results than sending them an email.

  3. Mr. Wakiki says:

    The forever stamps.. kind of secures some forever…

    that is… you buy a roll and at that time, you know what the price is… but I mail a letter a day (at least) but I am not 100% sure what the price is… but for this article (49¢)

    If it was $5, I would mail in bulk…

    I don’t know what the price point is… but in many ways.. it is: I give you 50¢ and you are going to take a letter and deliver it to where ever I want in the U.S.? that isn’t too bad.

  4. mrwakiki says:

    Ellen… when you say Whatever… you would pay $5 to send a letter to a family member?

    I remember reading a story about John Lennon, he couldn’t send any mail because someone would steal it for collectors…. so when he sent people pollariods he had to hire someone to hand deliver then (including air fare), so that is an example of how much someone would pay…

  5. D. Ogonek says:

    I drive from Ottawa to Ogdensburg several times a year just mail packages to family members in the Japan, Germany and the US. Even with the cost of gas and my time, it is less expensive than mailing those same packages from Canada. And the packages get to their destination more quickly! I was at a Canada Post office location yesterday to mail Easter cards. After weighing and measuring the cards, the attendant looked at me and said, ” You know, it is going to cost you a lot to mail these cards.”. Well, I thought, I could always buy an airplane ticket and deliver them myself. :-)
    As an American living in Canada for the past 15 years, I have come to appreciate many things I used to take for granted, especially the USPS. Oh, and Mr. Wakiki, it cost me $4.50 CDN each to mail my daughter and two sons their Easter cards. So, yes… I am paying it!

  6. Claudia MacDonald says:

    Change happens. A fact, indeed. Flexability and creativity is the answer. We drag our feet, muttering and groaning all the way…when we would do well to seek solutions.
    I use USPS to mail packages and cards. Everything else is done electronically. And I expect I will soon be e-mailing cards as well. Remember folks, this is a way to save trees. Wasn’t that part of the plan?

Comments are closed.