Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vanity Postage from Stamps.com

 I tried vanity postage from Stamps.com and it is extremely cool and also a headache. I love it so much that I was in denial about what a mess the process is until I found myself trying to explain to my housemate and fellow mail artist, Dawn, how she could use my credit to get a page of vanity stamps of whatever she wanted:
       "If, in the next week-- before my trial period ends I have to cancel my subscription or it is $16 a month-- you want to order stamps, you can definitely use my credit to order the photo stamp blanks (the stickers), but the credit doesn't apply to postage so you can either use my remaining balance, which is a couple of dollars, or if you want more you can buy it in whole dollar increments of at least $10."
And those are just the hoops remaining after I signed up for and installed all these things and navigated the stamps.com labyrinth and the one in the mandatory desktop version. I have worked for the post office, have the First Class Mail rates memorized by mailpiece and by ounce, read postal regulations as a pastime and found this process inscrutable I honestly don't know who would find the ordering process and billing manageable.

I found a gift card at the Goodwill for half off of $2.99 and thought it was worth checking out, and it was redeemable for $21 in postal supplies but no postage. But, signing up for stamps.com comes with a welcome kit (designed for small businesses) with a $5 postage credit. The welcome kit coupons are really clever, they are postcards redeemable for $10 in postage if you send them in using stamps.com postage after your trial is up. I have already put the cancellation date in my planner, even though I love my vanity stamps, because the subscription is just way too expensive for private use.

This page of stamps is a drawing I made of a triceratops skull at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
This is a photo of my dad. The printing is over saturated. He's in a gorilla suit warming up to peddle his pontoon paddle boat in a river parade. 

I feel weird cancelling a service that is so neat, but it is really not priced for personal use. I send more mail than anyone I know and I use under 200 stamps per year. Just subscribing to stamps.com costs twice as much as those 200 stamps, and anyway there are always new fantastic commemorative USPS stamps that I want- vanity stamps can't replace them.

 For example, one year a panoramic stamp came out depicting the cherry trees around the Washington Monument to celebrate the centennial of friendship between the United States and Japan. I had an application for teaching abroad due, and since I was living in the capital I delivered it to the Japanese embassy by hand. They asked for a self addressed, stamped envelope for replies. I used the cherry blossom stamp and they sent it back saying no thank you. So that worked out well for everyone.