Stuck On Stamp Duty

, , , | Right | March 9, 2018

(I work behind the customer service desk, which handles returns, utility bills, lottery, and stamps. I’ve only been in that department a few months, but it’s become painfully obvious that many of our clientele have no idea how stamps work. Some do, and it goes off without a hitch, but I get these three customers in the same shift.)

Customer #1: *a woman in her late teens or early 20s* “I need stamps, like… a book.”

(Books are sheets with 20 stamps total, so I ring it up.)

Me: “All right, books are $9.80.”

Customer #1: *stares* “What do you mean, they’re $9.80?!”

Me: “Well, stamps are $.49 each, and books of 20 come out to $9.80.”

Customer #1: “But I just want one! It should be $.49!”

Me: “Wait, did you want one stamp, or one book?”

Customer #1: “One book!”

(I decide to try something. I pull out both a single stamp and a book of 20.)

Me: “Ma’am, this is a single stamp, and this—” *holds up the sheet of 20* “—is a book. Which did you want?”

Customer #1: “Oh, I thought all stamps were called books. I want that.” *points to the single stamp*

(I ring her up without further argument. A little while later…)

Customer #2: *a visibly flustered older woman* “I need stamps. I just… How much are they?”

Me: “Single stamps are $.49, strips of 10 are $4.90, and books of 20 are $9.80.”

Customer #2: “No, no, no, that is too much! Stamps were never that expensive when I used to buy them! I knew the prices had changed since then, but that is too much!”

Me: *having heard this argument before* “I’m sorry, ma’am, but the government sets the prices. We can’t override them. The best I can say is that these are forever stamps, so they’ll always be good even if stamp prices rise again.”

Customer #2: “They might rise again?! I’ll take two books!”

(I ring her out, and she proceeds to block my only window as she fumbles with several letters. There is no one behind her, so I let it go.)

Customer #2: “How do you get them off!?” *waving one of her books as if to shake the stamps off*

Me: “They’re adhesive, like stickers. Just peel off the backing and stick them to the envelope.”

(She eventually figures it out and leaves. A little later comes customer number three.)

Customer #3: *a loud, older man who is both a regular and known for not being quite with it* “I need a stamp! How much are they?”

Me: “$.49.”

Customer #3: *hands me a $20.00 bill and watches impatiently as I count out $19.51 in change*

Me: “Here’s your stamp.”

(He stares at the stamp for a moment, then at the envelope he wants to mail. He then proceeds to enthusiastically lick all over his thumb, flip the stamp over, smear the spit all over the smooth backing, and pound the stamp over the envelope. Not only is it thoroughly disgusting, the stamp is never going to stick that way.)

Customer #3: “Good enough!” *cheerfully leaves the envelope on the counter for us to mail and walks away*

(There was no way I was going to touch that stamp and, sure enough, it was ready to fall off the moment I moved the envelope. I wanted to just put it in the mail bin and have the post office return it to him, but I didn’t. I just taped the stamp to the envelope, threw it in the mail bin, wiped down the counter, and washed my hands.)

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