Business

USPS wasted $1.2 million, 682 million stamps on Simpsons run

U.S. Postal ServiceElvis Presley

The U.S. Postal Service didn’t do itself any favors with Homer and the rest of the Simpsons -- less than a third of the 1 billion stamps created to commemorate the cartoon family have been sold.

The USPS wasted $1.2 million in printing costs overproducing 682 million stamps, according to an audit from the agency's inspector general. Just 318 million Simpsons stamps, which were created to mark the characters' two-decade stint on television, were sold in 2009 and 2010. (Hat tip to Bloomberg)

In all, the agency made 2.1 billion more commemorative and special-issue stamps than it could sell in 2009 and 2010, according to the report. The stamps were later destroyed, resulting in $2 million in unnecessary manufacturing costs a year.

Earlier this month, the USPS said it suffered a $5.2-billion loss in its third quarter -- or nearly $2.4 million an hour. The agency, which has defaulted several times on retiree healthcare benefit payments, is also suffering as customers increasingly turn to email and other electronic transactions.

The process used to forecast which stamps would generate the best demand was deeply flawed and led to "costly miscalculations," according to inspector general's report. Nearly twice as many Simpsons stamps were made as were stamps sold in 1993 to commemorate Elvis Presley’s birthday.

The King’s stamp run was the most popular commemorative launch ever, according to the audit. The five Simpsons designs, featuring Homer, his wife Marge and their children Bart, Lisa and Maggie, weren't quite as well-received.

And after the USPS printed 500 million Flags of our Nation (Series 4) stamps in 2010 and 2011, just 120 million were sold.

The postal service distributes stamps to about 35,000 retail units. Unless the stamps are evergreen Forever stamps, they're trashed once made obsolete by time or rate changes.

The agency has recently cut back on stamp production, spending $43 million making 21 billion stamps in fiscal year 2011, compared with 29.7 billion stamps, which cost $56 million, in 2009.

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