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Post office stamps out its vending machines

POSTED: June 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

The U.S. Postal Service is discontinuing stamp machines in its post offices.

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Need a stamp?

You won’t be able to buy one from a machine at the post office anymore.

The vending machines that sell stamps are being removed from all United States Postal Service locations. There is no deadline for their complete removal.

Michael Mills, a spokesman for the postal service, said the machines are retiring for two reasons. Because the machines are old, they have maintenance issues, and the company that makes the replacement parts for them is no longer in business. He also said the machines are not being used as much as they once were.

"I think it’s a change in people’s buying habits. It’s difficult to say exactly, but it’s a change in the way people do business," Mills said. "I think it’s a change in times, really."

Some local residents visiting the Green Street post office said they rarely use the stamp vending machines.

"We keep stamps at our office," said Brandy Kastner, who works at Gainesville Bank and Trust. But she said she used to use the machines, and "if you had to stand in that long line (to buy a stamp) it’s ridiculous."

Hilda Shockley, an administrative assistant, said she never uses the machines, but usually sees others using them.

Michael Ford, an attorney, suggested the postal service create an express line for buying stamps so customers would not have to wait in line with people seeking more time-consuming services. He said he occasionally uses the machines to buy a single stamp and did not think ordering stamps was convenient.

"How does that help me get it and put it on the letter?" he said. "I guess I’ll stand in the line."

Stamps still will be available at post office windows. But if you are not ready to brave the lines, other options include buying stamps online or ordering over the phone at 800-STAMPS24. Rural customers can ask their mail carrier for a form to order stamps. Mills said stamps will arrive three to five business days after they are ordered. Stamp machines still will be available at some grocery stores, drug stores and other businesses.

"People are looking for alternatives to visiting retail locations," Mills said. "So much shopping is done online these days, I don’t think that’s a big inconvenience or big challenge for most people."



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