• Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   4 days 23 hours ago

    This was a bad and illegal idea and then it was poorly implemented. Collectors were repeatedly misled as to the distribution so that any attempt to get a copy was worse that even pure luck would have dictated. Lies followed deceptions which followed falsehoods etc. The gratuitous gifting of 3 copies, after a very high market value had been established, was an outrageous and illegal gift of public funds. People should lose their jobs over the gifting issue as well as the lies about the distribution. I have no hope that that will actually happen.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   5 days 2 hours ago

    I am a German philatelist and I collect US-stamps since some 50 years. I also collect stamps from various other countries around the globe. The difference between a stamp collector and a philatelist is the way he builds his collection:
    While stamp collectors will just acquire stamps, sort them for sets or motives and place them into an album, philatelists go much further, their goal is to form a collection which shows the postal history, the general history and the cultural development of a country or a special area like e.g. an island. A typical philatelist uses mint and used stamps, historical covers which in many cases will date back to the pre-stamp age, plus documents and e.g. newspaper clippings to form his collection. He will arrange his material and write it up in a way that it will display the (postal) history of his collecting area in an attractive manner. A philatelist appreciates and enjoys his stamps in a very special way:
    • A mint stamp will tell him something about the countries cultural history, its landscape, flora or fauna.
    Whereas the quality of the design, the paper and last but least of the print shows whether it was made with patriotic pride or just for paying the postage fee.

    • A used stamp with a crisp and clear postmark will whisper to him, where and when it was used and possibly more…

    • A stamp on cover tells a story. He will be able to obtain lots of additional information like e.g. the complete route the cover had travelled, the franking required, censorships, possible mishaps like crashed aeroplanes, ships etc. and sometimes the letter content will add interesting cultural or historical information.

    I have been watching a slow but continuous sad decline in the US stamp issuing policy over the last 22 years which culminated in the present scandal about the 100 upright Jenny $12 stamp sheetlets.
    It all started back in 1993 when Azeezaly S. Jaffer became Executive Director of USPS stamp services. He remained in that position for 6 years and 4 months.
    During that period of time he drove the first 3 nails into the coffin of US-Philately:

    1. Foolish Increase of the Number of Stamps Issued
    He increased the annual revenue from stamps he claimed would be retained by collectors, by 400% i.e. from $60 to $240 million. He did that by increasing the number of different issues in a sheer endless manner.
    At first sight this sounds good, however it effectively drove young people away from stamp collecting, because they simple couldn’t afford so many new issues.
    Time has shown that there was next to no increase in retained stamps. A large share of the increased stamp volume was not purchased by collectors, but held by speculators who thought that issues like the Elvis Presley one would increase in value. When they learnt the hard way that they had made a mistake, these stamps were sold as discount postage via eBay. The same is true for the many collections of small collectors who could no longer afford to purchase so many new issues or were simply disgusted.

    2. Attractive Commemoratives were Made Unavailable from Normal Postal Outlets
    Jaffer had the stamp program split into pretty looking large commemoratives and small dull stamps to move the mail. This came with a promotion that the commemoratives were meant for collectors only and should be retained in their collections. It also meant that commemoratives were no longer distributed to smaller post offices.
    Philatelists would laugh at him, because as explained above they love stamps which have done actual postal duty.
    US-philatelists made a point in using just commemoratives, on their mail. However, normal postal customers could no longer purchase commemoratives at their local post office. As a result some 90% of the US-mail was now franked with small dull stamps and the strong advertising effect from the attractive commemoratives was lost. Canada Post who has a habit too frequently copy mistakes made by the USPS (like e.g. selling printer sheets) did not fall into the same trap this time. They made a point of producing a booklet version of all their commemoratives.

    3. Ignoring the Export Market
    Jaffer decided to use endless versions of the US flag for the majority of the small workhorse stamps and called it a “patriotic action”. Within the US he got away with this argument. Outside the US it was however a catastrophe. In most of the bigger stamp collecting countries, especially so in Europe excessive flag showing is linked to either communist or dictatorship countries. The argument is that they have to do so, because they lack cultural achievements. I remember many incidents where I was asked about the countries I collect and when I answered that my top country is USA, I was met with disbelieve and the question: “But why, all they print is their flag, they have no culture!” Now I am sorry that I have to mention this, and I know of course that the USA have a rich culture. However USPS marketing does its best to hide this fact, and US stamp exports have dropped dramatically for this reason.

    4. Selling Printer Sheets
    Another negative effect on US philately was the decision of the USPS to sell printer sheets. It put the US on the same low level as the so called Dune countries, small entities which are lacking the funds to properly finance their postal system and which are using anything to raise some revenue, no matter how small it may be. This again drove many collectors towards other countries.

    5. Moving from Water Soak Able to Benzene Removable Stamps
    The biggest and may be final blow against US philately was however USPS’s incomprehensible decision to move from water removable to Benzene removable stamps. Benzene is a toxic and fire hazardous substance, which can only be used outside and even then it may cause cancer. As explained above, simple stamp collectors as well as philatelists need to be able to neatly and attractively arrange their “treasures” in sets on album pages. Now that this is no longer possible without big health risks, I can see no future any longer for US philately. No responsible parent will permit his child to work with Benzene. While other big countries like e.g. Canada go out of their way to produce stamps of the most excellent quality, USPS has decided to go the other way. They completely lost their former patriotic pride for the national stamp program.

    6. The Lottery for the Upright Jenny Stamp Sheetlet
    This idea was apparently copied from Australia Post. I used to have an almost complete collection of Australian stamps. However, when I learnt at the time that Australia Post was planning to intentionally produce “stamp rarities”, I immediately decided to stop collecting their stamps and sold my collecting.
    Philatelists try to make their collection as complete as possible within the budget they can afford. This is of course no longer possible when Australia Post or USPS decide to create artificial rarities whenever they feel like it.
    After 5. above, I had thought that USPS had done everything possible to harm US philately, however their creativity is endless when it comes to kill the cow which has produced so much milk for them for so many decades.

    What types of activities would enhance support of the philatelic program?
    The answer to this question is dead easy:
    • Reverse the above foolish decisions.

    • Replace the current members of the stamps advisory committee with US philatelists.
    You can be sure that they will produce an endless flow for the revival and steady growth of the philatelic program.

    • If you wish to use lotteries as marketing methods to boost philatelic sales, you are most welcome to do so, but do it in a sensible manner like e.g. randomly granting purchase vouchers of say $50, $100 or $300 to your customers. By all means, never try to tell your customers what they should collect. If however you start listening to their needs, you will find it easy to make the right decisions.

  • Reply to: If you have been to a Post Office with a kiosk, but opted to wait for a clerk instead, what was the basis for your decision?   5 days 6 hours ago

    I would normally use the kiosk, but doing anything at a government facility (i.e. Post Office) has become laborious. This week, I walk in, ready to use the kiosk. There are about 5 people lined up to use it, and 5 people waiting for the clerk at the counter. The kiosk had been "updated" and is now so complex, people are having trouble processing anything. So my post office has a full-time postal clerk standing at the kiosk helping each person navigate the kiosk, and one clerk at the counter helping people. There should be no need for a clerk at the kiosk. The kiosk should be simple enough so that people can navigate it by themselves. And both postal clerks should be at the counter helping people. I decided that the counter was a faster alternative for me, and it was. But when I get to the clerk, I am peppered with so many questions about my simple letter, that one almost feels like he's being criminally interrogated before he mails a simple letter. As if I can place a bomb or hazardous material in a ¼ ounce paper letter. And then I am now told I must press a "button" to confirm that what I said was true. And the Post Office if wondering why it is failing? Do the people in Washington have nothing else to do than come up with more complex kiosks and and barriers to mailing a simple letter? The USPS would not last a single day if it had to compete in the real world. And this is the reason why most government initiatives are complete failures. I could go on, but I think you understand exactly what I'm saying. I doubt my comments will even be read or posted. But again, that seems to have become the way of life in this once great country.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   5 days 6 hours ago

    Given the upright now exists and that the USPS said only 100 were produced it is unlikely that you could produce more without finding yourself in court. My suggestion is place the remaining ones, that the fulfillment center has, in a public auction with all the proceeds going to the Philatelic Foundation and American Philatelic Society. In that way you would help the hobby.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   5 days 15 hours ago

    This stamp was a fiasco from the beginning. 2 dollars? Why? To rip off collectors. It should have been a 49 cent stamp. It would have sold many millions. It would have made more money than this dumb idea of a created rarity. Creating rarities is dumb, it didn't work to sell more stamps, also numb.

    The people who thought this up should be fired for incompetence.

    Usps should have a philatelist board, to judge all things philatelic. And please don't tell me that the stamp advisory board fulfills this function. This is just a bunch of celebrities. When I say philatelists, I mean real philatelists. I have been collecting for 51 years, and have served on numerous professional boards and advisories. You want some professional people who have a proven track record of good judgment.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   5 days 15 hours ago

    I feel this issue was a total mistake. Stamps given to people. Only a few made, for what? This does not make sense. I hope the USPS stops this non-sense and issue stamps in a fair and equitable way. I have supported the USPS. use the mail, but so many speculative issues, hurts us all. The USPS miscalculated this. they expected the public to rush to their post offices and buy these $12.00 sheets in droves. People are not stupid.

  • Reply to: A Golden Opportunity?   5 days 16 hours ago

    Absolutely the USPS should get involved and develop consumer driven financial services! Promote more broadly Postal Money Orders, check cashing, and walk-up bill pay along with online money transfers such as Pay Pal or Western Union respectively. The biggest threat to Postal financial services are Washington Lobbyist. That being said, and I cannot stress this enough is customer service training along with the proper computing tools, backup systems, and encryption protection! It makes sense, it is a Golden Opportunity.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   5 days 18 hours ago

    I loved the idea of creating 100 un- inverted Jenny's , I bought them when I would never of done so, to me it was like buying a lottery ticket. The problem the postal service had was that it did not promote it , nothing, the general public had no idea and neither did any of the postal employee's selling at the windows, I would tell the story to them as how this all started. I told one of my friends about it and he started buying them, he's not a collector, I'm the collector,, long story short, he got one of the panes, with the congratulations notes, lucky him. The last thing I would like to add is this, I didn't like that they gave away three of the sheets to collectors and then I read that they forgot to insert them into the ones they were selling through the fullfillment center, anyone that was looking for the golden ticket has been mislead about this from the start. I love that 100 was created but very disappointed on how it was handled.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   5 days 18 hours ago

    It seemed like an exciting idea at first, until I spent several thousand dollars hoping to get one of these rarities (I didn't) only to learn later that the uprights were not evenly distributed as promised and some were held back and given, as gifts, to at least 2 "collectors" that we know of. Now the entire program seems to reek of corruption.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   5 days 22 hours ago

    Thank you for the opportunity to opine on this matter. The deliberate creation and questionable distribution of this "error", though well intended, was clearly a misstep.
    This hobby recognizes philatelic items used in the normal course of business. When accidental errors occur in the manufacturing (printing) of stamps, the rarity is acknowledged as such, and awarded status as a genuine error. The deliberate creation of a unique philatelic item and leveraging the mystique of a genuine error, smacks of prostituting this wonderful hobby. I trust that this will be the first and last time the U.S. Postal Service pulls this stunt.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   5 days 23 hours ago

    I've collected US stamps for most of my life. In the past, the USPS made some attempt to provide special services to stamp collectors. Considering most of the sales to collectors are never redeemed as service (profit), one would think the Postal Service would consider the collector in its policies. Creating a new rarity, too many new issues, issues having multiple printers....all make the hobby expensive and leaves the collector feeling used.
    As example, the practice of issuing coil stamps which require the collector to purchase the entire roll or purchase from a secondary market for much more than face. Since some coils are made available in strips of 25, clearly it could be done with all new issues. I appears to me to be another way USPS milks the collector.
    Another example is the failure to offer philatelic windows at the local PO. Even worse, having USPS employees working the windows without any knowledge about the very stamps they're selling.
    Lastly, having employees at the Fulfillment Center mishandling and damaging stamps while processing orders. Protective, safe packing should not be a "special request."
    In other words, if the USPS expects to attract new collectors or keep the loyalty of long time collectors, I suggest you consider demonstrating a little more respect to the hobby.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   5 days 23 hours ago

    Great idea, but poorly implemented.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   6 days 2 hours ago

    Frankly, I love the idea of the upright-up side down Jenny. I know I have almost no chance of acquiring one, but the idea was fun, exciting and a much needed boost to the hobby of stamp collecting and to interest in United States' stamps in general. The issue led to hundreds of posts about it on Facebook and lots of blog entries were devoted to it. I don't think the USPS should be creating artificial rarities on a continual basic but this might be the most appropriate issue to create such a rarity given that it commemorates the creation of one of the most famous rarities in history. The last time it happened was Farley's Follies in 1940, so once every 65 years or so seems reasonable. (And Farley's Follies are well loved now and also still generate lots of discussions about stamps on social media).

    The USPS is blocked from normal revenue generation, like raising postal prices (have you seen the price of mail in the rest of the world???), dropping expensive services (there's hasn't been Saturday deliveries in Canada for example since the 1970's). They are not allowed to compete against private businesses by creating and selling items that private businesses can sell but are still expected to generate a profit like the businesses they aren't allowed to compete against, and so on. Generating revenue in this unique and fun way can easily be forgiven in my mind.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   6 days 2 hours ago

    this whole issuance is offensive. the USPS lied about the "random" nature of the inverted panes. many of us purchased these with the expectation we had a "fair" chance to get an inverted pane - only to find out there werent any (or as many as there should have been) in the KC supply. The USPS should stop manufacturing rarities and should accept opened panes back for money back since this violated both its own laws AND was false advertising.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   6 days 2 hours ago

    Yes, the stamp was issued in September to commemorate the special occasion in October. No, that is not what you wrote! Here is the exact line from your post above, "Yes, collectors are passionate about their stamps. Indeed, stamp collecting even has a month – September " Did you proofread your own blog post before hitting submit?

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   6 days 3 hours ago

    I suggest a reprint on water activated paper. Print enough to meet collector demand. This will not destroy the value of the self adhesives and will give collectors a example. I know not exactly the same but will last indefinately where the self adhesives will turn brown after a couple of years if the layers have been left out that stop bleeding and allow soaking off.
    I would suggest printing all stamps on water activated paper for the collector community thereby allowing the cheapest production of the self adhesives. No special paper for the self adhesives needed. Collectors would use the water actived stamp creating a stock of used stamps that would soak and not deteriorate after a couple of years from the adhesives. I still have sheets of the USPS first self adhesives and they are brown!!! I have collected US stamps from the midle 50's and quit when the non soakable self adhesives came out. I now collect countries that mainly produce water actived stamps.
    Also no mention has been made of the special circus sheets that cost a substantial ammout to acquire. Seems inapropiate. Espeically if they don't have the adhesive layer block in the paper. Good luck in fixing the issues you face in making the Post office competitive and profitable. H B

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   6 days 15 hours ago

    I have purchased many of the Inverted Jenny sheets in hopes of getting one of the one hundred unverts. To learn the someone within the Post Office could dig into their draw or safe and pull out a couple of the 100 special sheets to give away, leads me to believe, based on the numbers that so far have been reported, that the sheets were NOT randomly dispersed among 2.2 million invert sheets, but more likely between 40 and 60 sheet are sitting in some executive's safe and will turn up in the aftermarket in 10 to 15 years, making a nice retirement package for someone. Cynical, maybe, maybe not.

    I think that all the unvert sheets that can be gathered up and should be made available as a lottery like the Post Office did for the recalled Legends of the West sheet in 1994. It should be fair and equitable!

    The Post Office handling of the valuable sheets so far has not had any appearance of transparency or truthfulness This need to be corrected NOW.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   6 days 21 hours ago

    As a Canadian collector of US stamps, I buy all my US issues through the Stamp Fulfillment Center and I ordered a couple of extra panes in the hope of raising my chances of getting one of the elusive non-inverted panes. I now find out that I never had a chance to get one of the non-inverted panes this way. Frankly, I think that I was defrauded since this was advertised in the catalog I received from the USPS that was designed for mail order sales through the Stamp Fulfillment Center. The USPS should be forced to accept back for credit any unwanted panes that were ordered through the Stamp Fulfillment Center. If there was a class action suit against the USPS on this issue I would happily join it.

    I collect the stamps of Canada, the US, the UK, New Zealand, Finland, and Liechtenstein. The USPS stands out above all the rest for it's collector unfriendly policies. No other country makes me purchase so much extra postage to get a booklet or coil stamp for my collection or even just regular issue stamps that are sold in "indivisible panes". The non-inverted Jenny fraud has me thinking more and more that I should close the covers on my US collection as of 2015.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   1 week 4 hours ago

    Thank you for your suggestion, Tom. Printing additional Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets may devalue the original 100; however, a large inventory of Jenny stamps remain. If those stamps don’t sell and are eventually destroyed, those that have sold may potentially become even more valuable. If the Jenny stamp sales met or exceeded sales projections, another print run may be a viable option. The Postal Service is working with the OIG to address the recommendations, with final actions completed by December 31, 2015.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   1 week 4 hours ago

    Thank you for your suggestion Norman. In response to our recommendation 2, the Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets in circulation at the Post Office retail counters are individually wrapped, concealed, and comingled with the Inverted Jenny stamp sheets. It would be too costly to locate and identify approximately 57 stamp sheets currently in circulation. However, the Postal Service will be developing a plan for approximately 23 Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets at Stamp Fulfilment Services. The Postal Service is working on strengthening controls and addressing the OIG’s recommendations. Planned action is scheduled for December 31, 2015.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   1 week 4 hours ago

    Hi Ned… again, multiple comments regarding soakable stamps. Thanks for your idea. We will consider a possible follow-on audit.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   1 week 4 hours ago

    Donald, thank you for your suggestion. Our audit did not include benchmarking against other businesses in the collectible industries. We will use your comments for potential future follow-on audits or reviews.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   1 week 4 hours ago

    Thanks for your suggestion, Norman. Printing more stamps would make the 100 Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets less valuable; however, the Jenny stamp sheets have not sold as well as anticipated. The Postal Service is striving to make improvements and respond to all recommendations by December 31, 2015.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   1 week 4 hours ago

    Thank you, Steve. We’ve received several comments regarding the soakable stamps. We will consider this for a future audit or review.

  • Reply to: Jenny Come Lately   1 week 4 hours ago

    David, thanks for sharing your viewpoints and opinions. The OIG’s Office of Audit (whom issued this report) evaluated compliance with regulations and statutory requirements. We also looked at the business process in place for managing innovative ideas related to stamp promotions. The OIG’s Office of Investigations has performed a full investigation regarding any potential legal or disciplinary actions. We appreciate your feedback, especially concerning your experiences with stamp packaging from the Stamp Fulfilment Services. Your ideas may be considered for future audits or reviews in this area.