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Begich announces rollback of parcel post rates

By Lauren Maxwell 8:07 PM February 6, 2014

Rural Alaskans say they were taken by surprise

ANCHORAGE - Alaska’s Democratic senator said he’s convinced the Postal Service to roll back a rate increase that took many rural Alaskans by surprise.

The rate to mail parcels over 50 pounds went up Jan. 26.

In some cases the prices doubled. Leslie Boelens lives in Aniak and said that’s exactly what happened to her friend.

“A friend of mine was moving, so she packed some boxes that were heavy, 69 pounds, to take and mail parcel post, “ Boelens said. “When she got to the Post Office they said there is no more parcel post, it has to go priority mail, and that’s over $100 a piece!”

Sen. Mark Begich said the rollback will probably happen within the next five days.

Whether it remains a permanent rate reduction depends on a study the Postal Service will undertake that looks at competition in the marketplace. Begich said he is confident Alaskans will not be paying twice as much to ship things like groceries to their homes.

“What this means is, consumers in rural Alaska aren’t going to pay 50 percent more like the Post Office wanted,” Begich said. “And second, for businesses that do a lot of business in rural Alaska, shipping goods through the parcel post, they will not see these rate increases. And I believe once we finish the study these rates will stay where they’re at.”

Begich put a number of amendments into the Postal Reform Bill, including one that would protect bypass mail. That bill passed out of the Senate Finance Committee today, but still needs a full vote in the Senate and the House.

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