Two Cents

You have no doubt heard the expression, "putting in your two cents worth." Well this is about my not putting in my two cents worth.

Several months ago I purchased a software package that offered a mail-in rebate. The rebate required a series of steps to be followed, which included the original sales receipt and the proper code from the original box – requiring me to cut it out and mail it back. I have been through this process before with other mail-in rebates. One minor error and six weeks later you get a letter saying something like, "Sorry but you did not provide the proper documentation for your rebate." I think they make the procedure complicated enough that they don't have to pay many rebates. And to further limit their rebate payouts, most of them have expiration dates that don't allow time for resubmission. With this in mind, I carefully followed all the steps, checking and rechecking each step. The rebate was only $35, but it was influential in my purchase decision.

Two weeks after mailing my rebate it was returned to me with a sticker on the envelope indicating that there was postage due in the amount of two cents. Since the rebate had a time limit, I immediately took the letter to the post office and asked for a 2-cent stamp. "We are all out of 2-cent stamps," the woman behind the counter told me.

Me: "Can't you use your postage meter and add 2-cents to it?"

Woman: "You have removed the sticker that said there was 2-cents due. You shouldn't have done that. I can't help you."

Me: "Then put a 39-cent stamp on it,"

Woman: "I can't do that either because the letter has been cancelled."

Now I was getting pissed. I told her to, "Put the new stamp over the cancelled stamp!"

Woman: "I can't do that. You need a new envelope."

Me: "The cancel stamp voids the envelope as well as the postage?"

Woman: "You can't use that envelope."

Me: "Why did they cancel my valid 37-cent stamp if they weren't going to deliver my letter?"

Woman: "That's our procedure. If the sticker saying it needs additional postage was still on the envelope, I could help you."

Me: "Then put one on it."

Woman: "Sorry, I can't do that. You will have to get a new envelope."

Me: "So let me get this straight. I mailed the letter to Florida, and somehow it went to Philadelphia. They sent the letter back to you and you sent it back to me because it needed two more cents in postage. They also cancelled the 37-cent stamp I put on it, but it wasn't really cancelled until I removed the sticker saying that it needed two cents more. Apparently this also cancelled my envelope, so that no matter how much postage I put on it now, it can't be delivered anywhere."

Woman: "I'm sorry, but you need a new envelope."

So for the lack of 2 cents, my letter went from my house to my post office and then to a post office in Philadelphia where it was sent back to my post office and then to my house so that I could add a 2-cent stamp so they could resend it. This lack of two cents cost me two trips to the post office, two envelopes, and possibly $35 if I don't make the rebate deadline. It also cost the postal service a lot more than a normal letter because the letter went through three post offices before coming back to me for the two cents.

I figure that if everyone in the United States mails a letter using the old 37-cent stamps, the post office will go bankrupt by sending all the letters out and then back again for two more cents so that they can send them on a third trip. It's no wonder that the postal rates keep going up. Thank God for E-mail.