Laundering Stamps

Have you ever run postage stamps through the washing machine? We did. And it was a reasonably full book. Bummer. And it was those new-fangled $0.39 stamps, too. But… We did learn something in the process (sort of). The stamps were far to beat up for us to use on an envelope, so my wife called the Post Office and asked if there was anything that we could do. She was told that we could glue the stamps to a sheet of paper and then turn them in for 90% of their face value. I’d never heard of that policy, so I thought I’d investigate a bit further.

After a bit of quick Googling, I ran across the following at the USPS web site:

Stamps that are damaged or otherwise unusable for postage (because of humidity, moisture, or other causes) while in a customer’s possession may be exchanged only for an equal number of stamps of the same denomination. Unusable stamps accepted from a customer under these conditions must be those on sale at post offices within 12 months before the transaction. Quantities of the same denomination over $10 must be returned in the same configuration as when bought, i.e., sheets, coils, booklets. Each such transaction is limited to $100 worth of postage from each customer.

Nowhere in there does it say anything about getting just 90% back (and we were talking about an amount under $10, so the ‘configuration’ bit shouldn’t have mattered). As it turns out, we never got the chance to follow up on this, as the stamps ended up getting scattered to the four winds (more accurately, they got scattered by the four boys) before we had a chance to bring them in. But the lesson here is that, if you’ve got a bunch of damaged stamps, all is not lost — apparently you can still get credit for turning them in.

9 Responses to “Laundering Stamps”

  1. Anonymous

    I have about 30 Forever stamps attached to the incorrect envelopes. I called our local post office where they reiterated the 90% figure. He said it is 90% because they are intact, in order to get any type of refund, I must keep them attached to each envelope. If I were to remove them and bring them in, I would get nothing back.

    When I mentioned the site and it saying damaged stamps are exchangeable for 100% of the value, he said these are not damaged. They have strict rules for what constitutes damaged stamps and should I remove these…they would be deemed worthless. This was followed by a rather strong comment on not attempting to damage them myself…apparently, ‘they would know’.

  2. Anonymous

    One is the “official” way and the other one is the real way that real people do it. 🙂

    I saw someone ask for $2 in 2 cent stamps the other day at the post office until the teller talked some sense into the person and he realized he didn’t actually need a hundred 2 cent stamps.

  3. Anonymous

    That process seems complicated. I’ve just walked up to the counter at the post office and showed them stamps stuck together and been able to get them replaced for full face value.

    Why not give that a try first? Simple!

  4. Anonymous

    I know people use enjoy peppering priority mail envelopes with small denomination stamps. it’s kind of funny to see sometimes too, you can fit a lot of stamps on them…

  5. Anonymous

    I have even been able to get a refund from stamps. And they have also changed the denomination of my stamps for higher ones.

    I do collect stamps. And I do buy old collections and big lots, sepparating them into valuable and unvaluable things. Sometimes I have mint US stamps that have no real value (nobody would buy them for more than face). I use them for postage. But a bunch of 3c stamps is not fun to put as postage. So I have changed for higher denominations.

  6. Anonymous

    Nickel: Think of stamps like cash. They are legal tender.

    Daytonscott: And don’t light your $100 bill in front of the popo since you can be arrested for that. Defacing money, and all that jazz…

  7. Anonymous

    You can do something similar with damaged paper money at the bank. In fact, I have heard that all you need is at least half of the bill, and they’ll replace it. So, you *can* light your cigarettes with $100 bills–just put them out before they burn half way through!

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