Kevin Blackston
PO Box 17544
San Antonio TX 78217-0544
United States of America

Philosateleian Blog

Kudos to the overachieving postal employee

As stamp collectors, we often have a bone to pick with one postal service employee or another who just doesn’t see things the way we collectors do—issues like having our stamps postmarked by hand, for example, or not destroying mail in the process of delivering it. Despite that, there are some that really go the extra mile in doing their jobs.

Philosateleian Post Horn reader Danny J. shares with us some of his experiences with employees at various post offices in his area of the Appalachians:

There are many small, isolated rural post offices where you can expect and get personal attention to your needs. When I want to cancel my own stamps, they usually give me their stamp canceller and an ink pad and let me go at it. They also will go through their cash drawers checking their limited stamp inventory and hand me sheets to tear off any stamps I want. I’ve even had some postmasters willing to tear off stamps from long rolls so I don’t have to buy an expensive complete roll.

Sounds like wonderful service to me. But the postal employees’ accommodation of stamp collectors is hardly their greatest contribution. Danny continues:

I’ve heard some great stores from the postal carriers who check on the elderly, take care of pets (and occasional stray cows) along their routes, and generally keep an eye on the communities they serve. In my last job before retirement…we actually had carriers who would take the time to stop on their routes to ensure our patients got their daily pain meds if the caregiver had to be at work or out shopping!

You don’t hear nearly as many stories about things like that as you do about less positive developments with the USPS. The cynic might argue that there aren’t nearly so many positive stories to tell, but I say kudos to those postal employees who care about more than just getting a paycheck—not just in terms of customer service, but with regard to the intangible extras they give to their community.

Have you encountered particularly helpful postal employees recently? Share your experience by posting a comment or by e-mailing your story.

Going plateless

Last week, I had the opportunity to fill in in the mail room at work. While “playing mailman,” I got to exchange pleasantries with the various mail carriers and other shipping service drivers who deliver to the office.

One day, Joe the mail carrier was a bit behind schedule because his mail truck had broken down. He mentioned that the truck, which was built in 1987, has around 450,000 miles on its original engine (which has not surprisingly been rebuilt).

I joked that Joe could probably get license plates identifying his truck as an antique, but he caught me off guard when he replied that USPS trucks don’t need plates.

Once I thought about it, I realized he was right; I’ve never seen a license plate on one of the little white trucks that carriers to deliver mail in the city. On the personal vehicles rural carriers use, sure—but never on the USPS-owned vehicles.

This little revelation left me wanting answers, so I did a bit of research. It turns out that USPS-owned mail trucks are not required to have license plates per federal regulations instituted in 1973. Who knew?

Have any other odd tidbits about the mail? Leave the details in a comment.

Make your own pages

No, I’m not giving up on The Philosateleian—but if you need album pages for something other than United States stamps, you can create your own using the beta.

Shameless plug: this major update to Philosateleia’s sister site makes it easy to create stamp album pages. Simply enter a caption for each of your stamps, plus each stamp’s width and height, and will take care of laying out the pages for you. This is easier than manually arranging each page; trust me, I speak from experience.

If you have a moment, check out the upgraded site. Comments, questions, and suggestions are very welcome.

Fall 2012 update for The Philosateleian

The Fall 2012 Supplement (274 KB, 4 files, 15 pages) for The Philosateleian U.S. Stamp Album is now available for download!

This supplement adds spaces for regular U.S. stamps issued since early June, including the final stamps in the 2008–12 Flags of Our Nation series and a new addition to the 2010–12 Scouting series. Spaces are also added for this year’s duck stamps, and additional details are provided for varieties of the 2012 Aloha Shirts and Four Flags stamps.

Naturally, these new pages are completely free. (If you want to show your support, that’s welcome, but not required.) Get the supplement now!

Online collectibles site Delcampe adds new seller fee

Say goodbye to 5- and 10-cent lots on Delcampe.

In an e-mail sent to members today, Sebastien Delcampe announced that an 18-cent sale fee will apply to each lot listed and sold after September 1. (There will still be no fees on lots that do not sell.) This fee is in addition to the existing commissions Delcampe takes off sold lots, and brings the popular auction site’s fee schedule closer to that of eBay.

In his e-mail, Delcampe states that the “objective is to limit the sale of items of too little value or for which there is too little interest.” The 18-cent sale fee will essentially make listing lots for less than 25 cents a money-losing proposition.

I can understand the move from a business perspective; Delcampe will eliminate low-value lots that, even if sold, result in miniscule commissions, and in the process make more valuable lots (from which they get a higher commission) more visible.

At the same time, I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed in the move. I’ve sold a number of stamps on Delcampe that had very low catalogue values, and that I didn’t make any money from, but that I was happy to pass on to someone who could use them. I would be surprised if I’m the only one who did that, but now it will be more difficult to find those elusive but not particularly valuable stamps from around the world.

What’s your take on the Delcampe announcement? Love it or hate it? Share your thoughts below.

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