ON YOUR SIDE: Questions about 150% increase in PO Box costs
GODDARD, Kan. (KAKE) - "That's 150% increase. That's price gouging. That's inflationary. You can call it whatever you want," said Gary Barnes of Goddard. "It's wrong."
Everywhere you turn, costs are on the rise, but sometimes price hikes still have you asking, 'Why?' or 'What's going on?'
That was the case with Barnes, who asked KAKE News to find out why the cost of his P.O. Box jumped 150%.
"I don't know what I'm going to use yet," Barnes said as he perused a stack of wooden beams in his barn Tuesday morning. "Or use one of those big ones over there. I haven't got that far into it yet."
Barnes was trying to find the right post to perch a new mailbox on at the end of his driveway.
It's not something he wants to do, but after getting his renewal bill for his post office box, he's reconsidered.
"It was $84 for a whole year," Barnes said about last year's bill. "Now they want $210 for the same year. Uh, that's a 150% increase."
He's had his post office box for years but says the increased cost is too rich for his blood. What he can't understand, is why?
"I said, 'Well, what's the reason?' She said, 'Well, that what they told us is we're within ten miles of Wichita. And so, you know, we've got competition,'" he says workers told him.
That would be competition from other companies that also provide mailbox services, like UPS.
"I can't figure out why...raising their product 150% is going to help with the competition," Barnes said. "It just doesn't make sense."
A former businessman himself, Barnes says competition should lower prices, not increase them.
"I'd like to get an answer from somebody at the post office that makes sense," he sighed.
So, Barnes, called KAKE News. We called the postal service which ended up sending us this statement:
"As operating expenses continue to rise, the price adjustments provide the Postal Service with much-needed revenue to achieve the financial stability sought by its Delivering for America 10-year plan. The prices of the U.S. Postal Service remain among the most affordable in the world."
"That's price gouging," he said about the increase.
Except, under Kansas law, it likely isn't. According to the Kansas Attorney General's office, the Kansas Consumer Protection Act says the price has to "grossly exceed" prices charged in similar transactions. Just charging a higher price than a competitor isn't illegal.
Barnes also wondered, why was his box more expensive in Goddard than the same-sized box in Colwich, but cheaper than the same box in Haysville.
The postal service's website says it allows each office to set its own prices based on things like how popular PO Boxes are, how big they are, and how close the office is to a competitor, among other things.
There is no standard price set across the country.
"I'm thinking that somebody is out of touch with reality," Barnes said.