A recent article in the Washington City Paper (“First-Class Debacle,” 7/12) criticized a Washington, D.C., post office station for the problems associated with the use of vending equipment. Due to rising costs and falling mail volume, the U.S. Postal Service was forced to increase revenue by requesting and finally implementing a postage rate increase on June 30.

To lessen the impact on customers, Washington, D.C., postal employees undertook a number of steps. They publicized the increase in advance through lobby posters and media. They began a campaign in May to urge customers not to purchase too many of the current-rate stamps in preparation for the increase, and they sold the new-rate stamps in advance whenever possible. They set up hubs around the District to ensure that no office would run out of the stamps once the increase took effect.

Their efforts paid off in that no post offices in Washington, D.C., ever completely ran out of the stamps during the rate-increase time period.

Unfortunately, there were some sporadic cases of vending equipment that had temporary failures due to heavy usage. One such example occurred at the Southeast Station. The Postal Service regrets any inconvenience this caused customers.

There are numerous ways that customers can obtain stamps other than standing in line at a post office or using vending equipment. Many retail and grocery stores in Washington, D.C., have consignment agreements with the Postal Service to sell stamps. Stamps can be purchased online at www.usps.com/shop or by calling toll-free 1-800-STAMP-24.

Once again, we are sorry for any inconvenience our customers may have experienced during the recent rate increase.

Public Affairs & Communications

U.S. Postal Service

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