USPS stops giving free publicity images of new stamps to foreign dealers

In a move that has puzzled the stamp world, the US Postal Service will no longer provide free publicity images of new stamps to foreign stamp dealers, according to a report from Bill McAllister, Washington correspondent for Linn’s Stamp News.

The change in policy was called “weird” by one stamp dealer, while another said the USPS was “cutting off their noses to spite their faces”. Foreign stamp sales are virtually pure profit for the USPS, since few if any of the stamps will ever be used to pay for postage.

Here’s Bill’s report:

Overseas stamp dealers can no longer count on free publicity images of new stamps from the U.S. Postal Service.

The move comes a year after USPS eliminated its sales agreements with a long-established network of foreign agents. One on those former agents, the Hermann E. Sieger Co. of Germany, described the USPS move as “the latest weird action of USPS.”

“We all know the termination of all contracts doesn’t mean that US collectors in all overseas countries automatically will disappear,” said Gunter Sieger in the e-mail.

Sam Seigel of Max Stern & Co in Melbourne, Australia, is another overseas stamp dealer, puzzled by the USPS move.

“.. . If anything they are just cutting off their noses to spite their faces,” he said in an e-mail. Sieger said “USPS still has quite a number of issues which are worth being advertised.”

“But now I shall suddenly pay for each single picture of any new stamp which I need for my offers, plus a processing fee,” he said. “This raises the question does USPS want to purposely destroy all advertising activities outside the USA or what may I interpret into this nonsense?”

Sieger forwarded an email he received from USPS’s Mary Guyll, a customer service specialist at the Stamp Fulfillment Center in Kansas City, Mo. She said she could no longer provide images of the new stamps but said the images could be purchased from the agency’s contract licensing office.

Asked about the policy, postal spokesman Roy Betts issued a statement defending the new policy. “The U.S. Postal Service has a statutory obligation to operate as a business and so vigorously defends its intellectual property rights,” it said.

“We strongly recommend that anyone request to use copyrighted materials, or, if requesting a copy of the image” contact the agency’s rights and permissions office.”