PhotoStamps Enter 'State of Limbo'

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The U.S. Postal Service asked online stamp vendor Stamps.com to conclude its market test and stop taking customer orders for PhotoStamps as of Oct. 1 to allow the agency to review the program, the company said late Wednesday.


Stamps.com began a market test Aug. 10 for PhotoStamps, a PC postage product that lets customers create postage with their own designs, images and photos. Customer response has been positive, with an estimated 100,000 sheets, or 2 million individual PhotoStamps, ordered during the roughly seven weeks of the test, according to Stamps.com, Los Angeles.


The USPS expects to decide the future of the PhotoStamps program within 90 days.


Stamps.com recently submitted a formal request to the USPS to extend the PhotoStamps test for a definite period of time, or to start a new market test of the service. That request is expected to be considered during the USPS' evaluation. Stamps.com also wanted to continue taking PhotoStamps orders while the program was evaluated. That request was effectively denied.


"We are disappointed with this outcome, as it puts the PhotoStamps program into a state of limbo as the holiday season approaches," Stamps.com president/CEO Ken McBride said. "However, we acknowledge the postal service's request to evaluate the program before additional orders are taken. By all reasonable measures, we think this program has been overwhelmingly successful. The customers have voted loud and clear with their orders. Now it is up to the USPS."


Stamps.com accepted PhotoStamps orders at www.photostamps.com through midnight Pacific Time on Sept. 30. It will fulfill orders received up to that time. PhotoStamps postage is valid U.S. postage and can be used at any point in the future.


For the fiscal quarter ended Sept. 30, Stamps.com expected to ship about 80,000 of the roughly 100,000 PhotoStamps sheets ordered. The rest are expected to ship in the fiscal fourth quarter.


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