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Buy Forever Stamps Now, Cost of Stamps Set to Increase to 49 Cents

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Price of Stamps

If you have any mail that needs to be sent out next week or after, buy some forever stamps this weekend because the price of stamps will be going up starting Sunday, January 26, 2014.

Last month regulators approved a temporary price increase of 3 cents for a first-class stamp, bringing the charge to 49 cents a letter in an effort to help the United States Postal Service recover from mail decreases brought on after the 2008 economic downturn.

The cost of other mailing services will also be going up.

New single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 26, 2014 include:

  • Letters (1 oz.) — 3-cent increase to 49 cents
  • Letters additional ounces —  1-cent increase to 21 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1 oz.) — $1.15
  • Postcards — 1-cent increase to 34 cents

In an announcement on its website the Post Office attributed the difference to its “precarious financial condition.” The price increase is necessary in order to ensure that the Postal Service will be able to maintain and continue the development of postal services of the type and quality which America needs.

“Of the options currently available to the Postal Service to align costs and revenues, increasing postage prices is a last resort that reflects extreme financial challenges,” said Barnett in the letter. “However, if these financial challenges were alleviated by the timely enactment of laws that close a $20 billion budget gap, the Postal Service would reconsider its pricing strategy. We are encouraged by the recent introduction of comprehensive postal reform legislation in Congress, and despite an uncertain legislative process, we are hopeful that legislation can be enacted this year.”

Meanwhile, business customers of the US Postal Service are appealing the decision by regulators to allow an increase in postal rates.

Mary G Berner, president and chief executive of the Association of Magazine Media, one of the groups behind the appeal, said the evidence used to secure the rate increase was “fundamentally flawed”.

“Increased rates will only result in more lost volume for the Postal Service,” she said. “Businesses will suffer and good people will lose their jobs. We hope the legal system will see through the Postal Service’s fuzzy math.”

Peggy Hudson, the Direct Marketing Association’s senior vice president of government affairs, said unless the court overturns the regulator’s decision, the only protection mailers have against the Postal Service’s monopoly would be gutted.

“The 6.0% postage increase – three times the rate of inflation – will not help the Postal Service shore up its financial base,” she warned. “It will simply drive mail from the system, which harms the financial viability of both the Postal Service and its business customers. It is a lose-lose proposition.”

Price of stamps set to increase

Mailing a letter will get a little more expensive in 2014.

Related Stories:

Buy Your Forever Stamps Now Before the One Cent Increase in January
USPS to Cut Saturday Mail Delivery Starting Aug 1, 2013
Stamp Prices Could Raise to 50 cents for ailing USPS

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‘AT&T’ Faces Class Action Over Undisclosed “Administrative Fee”

AT&T denied all the allegations saying “the lawsuit is wrong.”

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AT&T has been slapped with a class action after alleging failing to disclose a $1.99 administrative fee to its customers.
AT&T denies the allegations. Photo: Mike Mozart | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Telecom giant AT&T is in the center of a class action suit that alleges the company of charging customers more than their advertised rates. The complaint claims that the carrier has been charging an undisclosed $1.99-per-month “Administrative Fee.”

The lawsuit was filed by AT&T customers Ian Vianu and Irina Bukchin, and they are now seeking to raise the complaint to a class action that includes customers who have been fraudulently and sneakily charged by the company from in California. An injunction has also been filed to compel the company to stop charging clients with the contested Admin fee, and as well as an order forcing AT&T to pay damages, restitution, and legal costs to the class.

According to the complaint, the company is prominently advertising a monthly flat rate for all their postpaid subscribers, and the almost-two dollar fee is undisclosed in all their ads.

“AT&T prominently advertises particular flat monthly rates for its post-paid wireless service plans.” But after customers sign up, the telco “covertly increases the actual price” by tacking on the “bogus so-called ‘Administrative Fee,” reads the lawsuit filed Thursday in US District Court for the Northern District of California.

They hide the charges deep down the bill

The lawsuit alleges that the telecom giant is purposely hiding the charge in parts of the bill that are hard to find for users to have a hard time of noticing that the charge exists.

“Making matters worse, AT&T deliberately hides the Administrative Fee in its billing statements. In AT&T’s printed monthly billing statements, AT&T intentionally buries the Administrative Fee in a portion of the statement that: (a) makes it likely customers will not notice it; and (b) misleadingly suggests that the Administrative Fee is akin to a tax or another standard government pass-through fee, when in fact it is simply a way for AT&T to advertise and promise lower rates than it actually charges,” reads the complaint.

“Thus, by AT&T’s own design, the printed monthly statements serve to further AT&T’s scheme and keep customers from realizing they are being overcharged,” it read further.

The fee description is hidden “deep within” AT&T website

While the admin fee description has been included by AT&T “deep within its website,” the complaint alleges that it was designed in such a way that customers are less likely to find it.

“Not only does this description fail to constitute adequate disclosure of the Administrative Fee, but it also serves to further AT&T’s deception and scheme by suggesting that the Administrative Fee is tied to certain costs associated with AT&T providing wireless telephone services (interconnect charges and cell site rental charges),” said the lawsuit document.

Nonetheless, the complaint also says that in the event that the description listed on AT&T’s website is actually accurate, “it would merely reinforce that this undisclosed fee should be included in the advertised monthly price for the service because those are basic costs of providing wireless service itself, and thus a reasonable consumer would expect those costs to be included in the advertised price for the service,” reads the document.

AT&T costs says the fee should have decreased

The contested admin fee is not new coming from AT&T. It was first introduced in 2013 at the rate of $0.61 per month and has raised it three times. The complaint questions why the company has been raising the rate when if the company’s cost is to be considered, the rate should have decreased over time.

“Moreover, on information and belief, the fee is not tied to the costs that AT&T’s buried description suggests. This is corroborated by the fact that AT&T has repeatedly increased the amount of the monthly Administrative Fee since the fee was first imposed, while during that same time period the stated costs that the Administrative Fee is purportedly paying for (i.e., interconnect charges and cell site rental charges) have actually decreased according to AT&T’s financial statements,” the complaint adds.

“In all events, AT&T should clearly disclose the Administrative Fee and should clearly and accurately state the true monthly prices for its post-paid wireless service plans in its price representations and advertising. AT&T has failed to do so, and continues to fail to do so.”

When pressed for comments, the only response of AT&T to the lawsuit was: “The lawsuit is wrong. This is a standard fee, and we disclose it to our customers.”

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‘Commerce Department’ Sued By ‘FedEx’ To Block Imposition Of Export Restrictions

FedEx took the Commerce Department to court to block the federal agency from imposing export restrictions against company. Click To Tweet

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FedEx is caught in the crossfire between Huawei and the Commerce Department. Photo: Pardesi | Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

The U.S. Commerce Department is yet facing another legal trouble, as the delivery company, FedEx filed a lawsuit against the federal agency to prevent them from imposing export regulations against the shipment giant.

“FedEx is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency,” said FedEx in a statement to announce their legal action against the Commerce Department dated June 24, 2019.

While FedEx did not involve the Chinese tech giant Huawei in its statement, the shipping company has recently been caught in a crossfire between the smartphone manufacturer and the federal agency, following the seizure of Huawei’s shipment last week, where China is reportedly investigating the involvement of FedEx is the shipment blockage.

“FedEx believes that the EAR violates common carriers’ rights to due process under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as they unreasonably hold common carriers strictly liable for shipments that may violate the EAR without requiring evidence that the carriers knew about any violations. This puts an impossible burden on a common carrier such as FedEx to know the origin and technological make-up of contents of all the shipments it handles and whether they comply with the EAR,” said FedEx in a statement.

FedEx cannot review every package they receive

In its lawsuit, FedEx says U.S. export regulations, “essentially deputize FedEx to police the contents of the millions of packages it ships daily even though doing so is a virtually impossible task, logistically, economically, and in many cases, legally.”

But FedEx denies that this a task that they can accomplish because the shipper receives about 15 million packages per day for shipment and its system spans more than 220 countries and territories, making it practically impossible to check the contents of every parcel.

“To comply with the Export Controls,” the lawsuit says, “FedEx screens the names and addresses of its shippers and the designated recipients prior to delivering any package in order to identify whether the sender and/or recipient are an entity or person” on the Commerce Department’s “entity list” of persons that could pose risks to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.

“We have invested heavily in our internal export control compliance program. However, we believe that the EAR, as currently constructed and implemented, place an unreasonable burden on FedEx to police the millions of shipments that transit our network every day.”

Only recently, the Commerce Department has included Huawei in the “entity list.”

The crossfire between Huawei and the Commerce Department

The growing tension between China-based smartphone manufacturing and Trump’s administration after the latter has accused Huawei of being used by the Chinese government to carry out economic sabotage and espionage against the U.S. with its 5G technology has already affected many companies with FedEx as their recent victim.

Washington has been very aggressive in its campaign against Huawei. In recent months, the U.S. government has been talking to its allies in Europe to ban Huawei’s infrastructure or else the U.S. will stop giving them access to U.S. intelligence.

But Huawei has stood its ground and continued fighting for its existence in the U.S. market. Only recently, Huawei filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Commerce Department to challenge whether the shipment of equipment that they intend to be tested in the US and then shipped backed to China after testing, is covered by the Export Administration Regulations.

Asserting that the shipment did not need a license (that’s why it doesn’t have shipment license), Huawei argues that it shipped telecommunications equipment from China, including a computer server and Ethernet switch, to a testing laboratory in California.

The shipment was seized in Alaska by the US government, and until now, there is no concluded decision regarding the delivery. Huawei is asking the Commerce Department to rule whether the shipment is illegal or not. In case that the ruling favors Huawei, it’s also praying that the consignment to be released.

In a statement, the Commerce Department said: “We have not yet reviewed the complaint, but nevertheless look forward to defending Commerce’s role in protecting U.S. national security.”

FedEx is threatened with up to $1 million and civil penalties of $300,000 per violation which the company thinks is putting them “between a rock and a hard place — absent the availability of review, FedEx must either forgo lawful activity because of its well-founded fear of prosecution, or willfully violate the Export Controls, thereby subjecting itself to criminal prosecution and punishment,” the suit says. It also means that “requiring FedEx to inspect every package abroad indiscriminately could place” the company in violation of privacy laws.

“FedEx will continue to defend our rights as a U.S. based global company, and we remain committed to delivering outstanding service to our customers in all countries around the world,” the company assures their partners and customers.

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China Builds The World’s First Mega Tanker To Secure Its Oil Supply

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China’s petroleum industry has been increasing rapidly, which undoubtedly places the country as the fourth-greatest oil producer in the world.

China has been exporting massive barrels of petroleum and crude oils to Japan since 1973, as reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). And as the petroleum business grows, the demand to supply oils to foreign countries heighten to a booming rate.

This demand eventually pushes the Chinese government to invest heavily in water transport infrastructure and cargo ships to carry substantial barrels of oils. And for several years, China took significant efforts to increase mechanization and containerization in its maritime activities.

China’s effort to once again embody the title of being one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to maritime affairs has come to fruition. Recently, it has announced the acquisition of the biggest oil carrier in the world, which is said to equal the size of three football fields. The record shows that it is the first-ever “intelligent” carrier in the world, with a loading capability of 308,000 tons.

The said vessel is China’s first intelligent crude carrier delivered to Dalian, Northeast Liaoning Province last Saturday. It was named as “New Journey,” which primarily belongs to the “very large crude carrier” or VLCC type, and constructed by the company Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co., Ltd. (DSIC) under the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC).

New Journey is more than 300 meters long, which is equivalent to 35 five-ton trucks. According to its builders, the vessel is too large that one can only touch the upper part of a 300,000 ton VLCC’s cab if he or she stands at a 55-meter high building.

China has been known for possessing ships with massive tankers for business trades, and mostly for importing oils. The country sets a record of importing 6.7 million barrels a day since 2015 and is believed to overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest crude importer in 2016. According to EIA, China first became the world’s largest net importer of petroleum and other oils since 2013.

With that massive amount of oils, China will need to accommodate them all in a single vessel, large enough to secure the supply until the next five years. “New Journey” guarantees unlimited oil supply during times of crisis, proving China’s forward-thinking strategy, primarily since climate change affects oil resources in the world.

This new vessel offers the most advanced feature that even other developed countries failed to invent. Compared with other oil tankers, “New Journey” brings efficiency, as it is equipped with an “intelligent brain.” Its five significant functions include assisted autopilot navigation, intelligent liquefied cargo management, comprehensive energy efficiency management, equipment operation and maintenance, and advanced ship-to-shore communication.

Aside from safekeeping the oils with its huge tankers, the vessel promotes intelligent navigation with the use of advanced technologies for ships. According to Guan Yinghua, chief vice engineer of DSIC, New Journey will take an essential role in improving maritime traffic safety; from manual maneuver to autopilot navigation.

This vessel is believed to haul nearly three-fourths of China’s oil imports within the next 15 years. Although China is still a major crude oil producer, it became an importer, as economic growth exceeded the domestic oil capacity, especially when floods damaged the nation’s oil fields. Therefore, China imported oil to compensate for the supply loss.

However, it needs more than offshore tankers and oil containers to house its imports. What China also desires is an on-shore large vessel that houses many oil tankers. But aside from creating a storage facility, China ensures a safe and harmless journey when this fleet travels from one port to another. This is where “New Journey” enters in the picture. It can accurately determine the position and speed of some other ships within ten nautical miles, thus giving itself more time to traverse or reroute avoiding collisions or accidents.

It is said that the number of container units handled by Chinese ports extended to more than 150 million, but it is not enough knowing that it still manufactures 90 percent of the world’s containers. But by creating its large fleet that can safely keep oils, China will never worry once the oil crisis plagues the world. After all, China can predict the future, and for Chinese, being prepared is the key to success.

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