Even though many of us prefer the speed of texting and email for quick communication, standard mail service remains a popular option—especially when it comes to sending more than just a note. More than 13 billion pieces of mail and packages were sent via the United States Postal Service (USPS) this past holiday season. It didn't exactly go off without a hitch: The USPS has recently come under fire for mail delivery delays in several parts of the country, which the service said is a result of the COVID pandemic and staff shortages. Now, customers may be frustrated to learn the postal service has made a new change that could also affect their mail. Read on to find out what the USPS is no longer allowing.
RELATED: USPS Just Made This Permanent Change.
The USPS has gotten rid of one of its flat rate envelopes.
The USPS is no longer allowing customers to buy Priority Mail Prepaid Flat Rate Stamped Envelopes, eSeller 365 first reported on Jan. 12. The agency initially announced that it was phasing out this shipping option in Aug. 2021. "The envelope, which is only sold online … will remain available until January or while supplies last," the USPS said at the time. Now, when you click on a link for the product online, it is no longer available on the agency's website.
Sara Martin, a spokeswoman for the USPS, told Linn's Stamp News that customers looking to use any of their remaining Priority Mail Prepaid Flat Rate Stamped Envelopes will need to add postage to the stamped envelope, as the imprinted postage will no longer reflect accurate pricing for the postal service.
The agency says demand for this shipping option has declined.
According to the USPS announcement, the prepaid flat rate stamped enveloped had been sold since 2003. But the mail service chose to discontinue production of this shipping product last year, which is why it is no longer available for purchase. "The Postal Service is discontinuing the envelope because orders have steadily declined over the years, while production and fulfillment costs continued to rise," the USPS explained.
Martin said this was the last Priority Mail prepaid stamped flat rate envelope that the USPS would offer. "A return on investment analysis conducted in Feb. 2021 determined it is in the best interest of the Postal Service to discontinue further production of the prepaid stamped flat rate envelope," she told Linn's Stamp News.
Certain USPS products have recently gotten smaller as well.
Last year, the Postal Service also made changes to the sizes of some of its shipping products. According to Linn's Stamp News, the USPS revealed that it had trimmed the dimensions of some of its boxes and envelopes by as much as a quarter of an inch in late September. For examples, the agency's large Priority Mail flat rate box was shrunk to 12 inches from 12 and one-fourth inches. And its Priority Mail Express Tyvek envelopes were reduced in length from 15 and one-eighth inches to 15 inches.
"Changing the dimensions will allow the boxes and envelopes to be processed more efficiently, increase visibility, and reduce the need for manual package sortation," the USPS said in a statement.
The Postal Service also recently updated its prices for several products.
Alongside one of the first discontinued products of the new year, several USPS price changes were put into effect on Jan. 9. The new prices affect Priority Mail flat-rate boxes in several sizes, as well as Priority Mail regular, legal, and padded flat-rate envelopes. According to the agency, the overall changes raise prices for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express service by 3.1 percent.
Two shipping options did face a price reduction due to the new changes, however. "The prices for large flat-rate boxes for Priority Mail and military mail will decrease 40 cents," the USPS said. Prices changes for cards, letters, and flat shipping products were last implemented in Aug. 2021.