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It's the Penny in Change That Riles Postal Customers


SANTA ANA — It wasn't the thought of paying 4 cents more for a postage stamp that bothered Orange County residents questioned Friday; it was the idea of getting a penny change.

Customers at post offices in Santa Ana, Anaheim and San Juan Capistrano said they would rather pay 30 cents than have to fiddle with pennies.

"I have one thing to say: Who's the idiot who raised it to 29 cents instead of 30?" said Cliff Chisholm, 67, of Anaheim, a retired truck industry worker. "That's bureaucracy for you. How much do you think it will cost them to (alter) the change machines for that price? Save a penny to spend a dollar. I can't understand those guys."

Irv Geller, a 59-year-old bus driver from Westminster, agreed.

"I think it's ridiculous," he said. "If they are going to raise the price of a stamp, they should raise it to 30 cents. What difference is a penny going to make one way or another? It's just plain ridiculous."

Gary Klinge, a 40-year-old construction worker, also was annoyed.

"It would have been nice if they had rounded out the number because it's going to be tough to feed 29 cents into a machine," Klinge said. "I guess I wouldn't mind so much if it meant that the service would improve too. Sometimes, my mail doesn't always get where it should be going."

Nigel Reynolds, a 40-year-old electrical engineer from Huntington Beach, described the proposed increase as "a pain."

"It's going to be bloody annoying watching all of these stamp machines spitting out pennies," said Reynolds, a native of England.

Gary Jackson, 40, does about $100 worth of mailing each month as an independent distributor for a skin-care company. He said that although a 4-cent increase might not seem like much, it adds up.

"I suppose the psychology of it is if you go from 25 cents to 30 cents, people get more upset than if you just raise it 4 cents," Jackson said. "I think it's their attempt to get the increase and pacify the public at the same time."

"It's distressing," said Gloria Hanley, owner of Production Head Rebuilders Supply in Santa Ana. "We do about $400 a month in mailings, and we just can't seem to get away from the increases. First, it's gas prices and now this."

But Chuck Ayres, a Rancho Carrillo rancher, approved of the rate hike.

"I think we get excellent service from the post office, and 29 cents is not out of line at all," Ayres said.

Jana Helmbold, 24, of Placentia agreed.

"I think it's pretty cheap to be able to send a letter anywhere you want in the United States for 29 cents," she said. "It's cheaper than a phone call."

Lisa Mascaro and Terry Spencer contributed to this story.

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