For decades, the Postal Service offered vending machine service to supplement its retail operations. Vending machines meet the needs of customers who want to purchase a single stamp without waiting in line.
While the lack of stamp vending machines has resulted in widespread customer frustration and a surprising number of newspaper articles, the problems are particularly acute in economically depressed areas. In these areas, customers may go to the post office to purchase only one or a few stamps. As staffing is partially based on revenue and a single stamp is a very low revenue transaction, lines in these areas may be particularly long. Although Automated Postal Centers (APCs) provide many services including the sale of stamps, APCs require credit cards, which people in economically depressed areas often do not have. In addition, some customers find APCs to be intimidating to use. Finally, APCs sell only booklets of stamps or individual stamps in denominations of $1 or more, yet many disadvantaged customers want to buy just one First-Class Mail stamp.