The increase will accommodate for the rising cost of business, said Stephen Seewoester, the U.S. Postal Service spokesman for Augusta, Macon and south Georgia.
“Things have gone up. We use a lot of gasoline. Expenses have gone up, so this is a routine rate increase that we do from time to time,” Seewoester said. “We can raise the price of stamps based on the Consumer Price Index. Packages are market-based, based on what competitors are charging.”
Consumers will also pay more for other Postal Service mailing and shipping services. However, customers who purchased Forever Stamps before the increase can use them without needing additional postage, Seewoester said.
Sandra Burke, an employee at Colon & Rectal Surgery Associates PC, said her office forgot about the price change.
“We stamped all of our mail yesterday, sent it out and it came right back to us needing more stamps,” she said.
The office had mailed out 71 envelopes with metered postage of 44 cents on Monday. Burke bought several books of 1-cent stamps Tuesday at Augusta’s main post office on Eighth Street to make up the difference in postage.
Ashley Gray, of Aiken, also unaware of the price change, visited the downtown post office on Tuesday to purchase a book of Forever Stamps.
Gray said she frequently uses the Postal Service to send bills, cards and even letters. She doesn’t mind the increase in price.
“It’s fine. It doesn’t bother me,” Gray said.
Still, the increase is not enough to eliminate the massive cuts planned by the Postal Service. The cash-strapped service announced plans in 2011 to make cuts to first-class mail this spring, eliminating the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day.
In addition, the agency has plans to close about half of its nearly 500 mail processing centers across the country, including the Augusta mail processing center. The Postal Service also plans to close about 3,700 local post offices, putting roughly 100,000 employees out of work.
The closing date of the mail processing centers and post offices has been delayed.
“We have a moratorium on it right now that we wouldn’t make any changes until May 15,” Seewoester said.