The arrival of the 25-cent stamp has triggered long lines in post office lobbies along the Wasatch Front, but postal officials expect the crunch to ease by the middle of the week.
The cost of mailing a first class letter jumped from 22 cents to 25 cents Sunday sparking a run on 3-cent stamps for those who had previously stocked up on 22-cent stamps.Ogden post offices sold over 1 million 3-cent stamps last week and placed an emergency order for more this morning, said Beverly Burge, communications manager for the Salt Lake City Post Office.
Along with the increase in the cost of a first-class stamp, second-class rates increased 13.6 percent, while third-class bulk mail rates went up 25 percent. Express Mail rates for letters up to a half-pound dropped from $10.75 to $8.75.
The rate changes will cost the average mailer about $6 more a year, said Phil Morgan, manager of customer services at the Provo Post Office.
But its not necessary to stand in line for the 25-cent E stamp or the newly popular 3-cent stamp.
New stamps can be ordered with a credit card by calling a national toll-free number or ordered by mail by calling the local post office.
To order stamps by credit card call 1-800-STAMP24 (1-800-782-6724.)
The lines are operating 24 hours a day. The minimum order is $12.50. A $2 service charge will be added, Burge said.
Orders for E stamps are being taken at local post offices. Fill out an order form in post office lobby or order by phone. There is no minimum order and credit card payments are not required, Burge said.
Salt Lake residents can also use temporary post offices set up in local malls. Post offices will be operating from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Valley Fair and ZCMI malls through April 6.
Although lines are long in most post office lobbies, customers often have a short wait.
"The lines are going pretty fast because there are a lot of small transactions," Burge said.
Salt Lake postal workers are particularly adept at dealing with the crowds.
"We can handle a lot of mail here. It would have to get pretty horrendous before we get bogged down."
Delivery service on Provo's 51 routes has been delayed about one hour every day for the past week or so, because the volume of mail has increased about 50 percent, Morgan said. It takes carriers longer to collect their loads in the morning, so they can't complete their routes on time.
The delay should continue for a few more days until the crunch of letters and packages mailed just before the deadline reach their destinations, he said.
The delays frustrate postal workers, because residents don't like to pay more for slower service.
"The first they say is, `rates go up and the service gets worse,"' Morgan said. "Anytime you raise anything, you catch all heck for it. But we still have the best postal service in the world and we're still the cheapest in the world."
Steve Oblad, assistant postmaster at the American Fork Post Office, said his customers are also frustrated by long lines and delays, but postal workers are being forced to serve half again as many people without adding extra help.
"I still have to stay within my employee budget," Oblad said. "I think if the rate increase were in it's proper perspective, people wouldn't be so upset."
The increase is the first in about three years. It was approved to keep the self-supporting postal service out of the red.