Recently the United States Postal Service introduced a new “Forever Stamp.” The stamp features an image of the Liberty Bell, and once purchased the stamp is valid for mailing a one ounce letter via First-Class postage forever — regardless of future rate increases.
There’s no denying that niggling postage hikes tends to result in stamps that have a row of 1-cent stamps to make up for the value of the left-over stamps we didn’t want to waste, and sometimes even the return of the letter because it didn’t have enough postage to make it to the addressed destination (although somehow tere’s always enough postage for it to make its way BACK to the sender.)
This concept started me thinking about other items that could be purchased at a flat rate in advance in order to avoide future rate hikes. The first (and most obvious) item that popped in my mind was gasoline.
Why doesn’t BP or Speedway or Marathon or whomever issue a “Fuel-Up Forever” card? It would function similar to a gift card that allows for “recharging” with new amounts once the pre-paid amount has dwindled, but instead of being worth ‘dollars” it would be worth “gallons” — just as the Forever Stamp isn’t worth ‘pennies,’ it’s worth ‘one First-Class mailing.’
I wouldn’t expect the card prices to remain static, but that they rise and fall with the current price of fuel. For example: this week I buy a card worth 50-gallons at a rate of $2.65/gallon, but next week when gas prices rise to $2.75/gallon my card is still worth 50-gallons no matter the current price. Users would basically be buying gas at current prices, betting they’d be increased soon (which is an extremely safe bet these days.)
Like the stamp, perhaps there is a small add-on cost to utilize this pre-paid offer. Currently, the First-Class postage rate is 39-cents, but the “Forever Stamps” cost 41-cents. In theory, a wily ‘investor’ might stock up on these gas cards and postage stamps today, but pay cash for the lower current prices until the rates were hiked to a point where it made sense to use the gallons/mailings on prices that exceeded the amount at which they purchased the “Forever” items.
I’m not presuming the idea of a “Fuel-Up Forever” card is perfect, but even as an element in a promotional campaign, it’s certainly worth consideration.