Stamps going up to $1

What can you buy for $1?

You certainly can’t buy a newspaper. The Herald Sun costs $1.40 on weekdays; The Age costs $2.50; The Australian is $2.70.

So I’m finding it difficult to be too outraged at standard stamps going up to $1. In fact this letter in Saturday’s Age perfectly sums up how I feel about it:

For $1, I can send a letter from the most out-of-the-way PO in the local store in Victoria for delivery to the most remote location in the Kimberley. What else can I buy for $1? Not much. Can a competitor deliver a letter from one side of Sunbury to the other for $1? No. People still use mail when it is the appropriate method. We long ago switched to fax then email where appropriate, including because they are cheaper and quicker. The price increase from hardly anything to not much will not change most decisions. Please, public, stop complaining about this trivial price increase.

Don Hampshire, Sunbury

70 cent stamps, 2015

Granted, it’s a jump from the old price of 70 cents.

Notably, concession stamps are available for concession card holders — up to 50 per year, at 60 cents each, so hopefully those on lower incomes (including seniors) who still send a lot of letters won’t feel a huge impact.

But for most of us, technology means regular letters are just not something we send as often as we used to. I still send a few Christmas cards in December, but I probably receive more parcels (via online shopping) than I send letters.

On the occasion that I do send letters, a dollar (or even $1.50 for “Priority”) for transporting physical paper, whether it’s across the city or across the country, still feels like a bargain to me.

Post delivery by tram

For some time – since well before the introduction of the Free Tram Zone – I’ve seen uniformed Australia Post employees with small delivery carts on board trams in central Melbourne.

Post by tram

At first I wondered if this was a good use of space on a tram, given how crowded they can get.

But I think it’s arguable that it’s Australia Post being smart about moving (at least some) letters and parcels around a busy urban environment, quickly and cheaply and without taking up the road space that the usual van fleet would take.

Similarly, long distance travellers with wheeled luggage often seem more inclined to use public transport than catch a taxi — Gordon Price described this as “the only significant new mode of transportation to develop so far this century.”

(Note: I’ve seen Post employees stand back and wait for a less crowded tram, rather than trying to squeeze on with a cart, so it’s not like they’re being totally unreasonable about it.)

Now it turns out Amazon is doing something similar in New York City on the subway.

Once upon a time many cities had freight trams. Perhaps this is the 21st century version of that.

And perhaps it’s yet more evidence that the wheels of commerce can adapt to not requiring motor vehicles to survive and thrive.

Post delivery by tram

The new Melbourne GPO – not as appealing as the old one, but perhaps more useful

The Melbourne General Post Office was built in the 1860s, and served as GPO until 2001. Nowadays it’s a shopping centre.

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Australia Post moved its retail operations a little north, to the other side of Little Bourke Street, with a big (but no doubt cheaper to run) Post Shop.

Now that too has closed, in favour of a new one a little further north again, on the corner of Lonsdale Street. I assume it’s still under construction — at least, it looks that way.

Australia Post Shop, Elizabeth Street

Inside the most interesting thing of note is the self-service checkouts and vending machines.

There are still humans serving, in what appears to be a similar fashion to other post offices. But PostPaks, stamps and other products can be bought via the machines.

This, at last, means you can buy postal products without having to queue behind dozens of people wanting to buy gifts and pay bills (something I only ever do online these days).

And a bonus: the frontmost section is open 24/7. It’s got parcel pickup lockers, and snack-style vending machines. If you’re ever in the vicinity and in urgent need of a 10-pack of stamps late at night, you’re in luck.

Australia Post vending machine

The Post Office are agents for some mob called “Telecom Australia”

At the post office… no wonder the queues are so long; they even sell lollies now (though I’m not convinced many people are buying them).

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…and of course, they’re also agents for some mob nobody remembers called Telecom Australia.

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Wikipedia reckons the Telecom Australia brand was phased-out in 1995, so the sign is only 17 years out of date.

Guide dogs accepted

Sometimes when I don’t have a blog post ready to go — either because I’m halfway through writing something, or I just can’t think of anything to post — I’ll instead post a photo or two that I’ve taken.

Here’s today’s.

I can’t help feeling that this sign would scan better if it said “excepted” instead of “accepted”. But I suppose it still works. It’s not just an Australia Post thing; I have recently seen the same wording in other shop windows.
No dogs allowed inside

Of course, not every word should be capitalised, But That’s Another Story.