RealTime IT News

In for a Penny...

Moving quickly to capitalize on the upcoming penny hike in the cost of a first-class stamp, Pitney Bowes Inc. said that it is offering a special one-cent discount off the new single-piece postage rate to its ClickStamp Online Internet postage customers.

But its chief online postage rival, Stamps.com, downplayed Pitney Bowes' goodwill play by saying it's been done before.

"Pitney Bowes' offer of their own one-cent discount is unimpressive," said Stamps.com in a statement late Tuesday afternoon.

"Stamps.com has been offering its customers free postage for more than a year. Unlike Pitney Bowes, we do not limit the use of our free postage to First Class Mail and do not issue it in mere one-cnet increments."

Still, Piney Bowes said the offer is good for up to 5,000 pieces of mail in 2001, the company said, and is open to current customers and those who sign up prior to January 31, at the PitneyWorks Web site.

The board of governors of the Postal Service set Jan. 7 as the date for the increase, accepting under protest the Postal Rate Commission's series of recommended prices.

While the independent rate commission agreed with the post office's requested 34-cent first-class rate, it reduced the agency's proposed increases in other areas.

For example, under the rates recommended by the commission, a letter will cost 34 cents for the first ounce, but the second ounce will cost 21 cents, a penny less than at present.

The Internet postage space has been fraught with difficulties recently as E-Stamp said last month it is phasing out its Internet postage product line to focus on its Web-based shipping and logistics solutions, and rival Stamps.com, which has never made any money, laid off 240 workers in October, two weeks after Chief Executive Officer John Payne and several other top execs all quit.

Pitney Bowes said its program "reinforces the company's commitment to help small business owners manage their everyday transactions."

PitneyWorks offers an Internet postage service that allows small business owners to import customized graphics and logos onto an envelope, turning that envelope into a marketing piece.