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Disney Stationery Animates a Postal Spat

"We're appalled that they should create this stuff and charge so much for it," said Rob Haeseler , director of administration for the American Philatelic Society in Bellefonte, Pa.

The Postal Service replied that if the cost of the package is too much for collectors, they can always hunt for single sheets from the set on auction sites such as eBay or from other stamp sellers.

Shelley Dreifuss , director of the Office of the Consumer Advocate at the commission, said she is concerned about such Postal Service forays into unregulated services, some of which have failed in the past.

"The markup on stamp stationery is way out of line with other postal products. The commission would never approve a markup like this," she said in an interview.

The fight over the Disney stationery has been going on since 2004, when Carlson filed a complaint with the commission.

The independent panel tried to have the issue resolved informally and appointed a settlement coordinator. That effort failed and in January the Postal Service asked that the complaint be thrown out.

Carlson said in his filings that the Disney stationery -- and another similar line being marketed by the Postal Service -- are conveniences just like stamped envelopes and stamped cards, and the aerogramme that the Postal Service has sold for years. He called them forms of postal stationery that are a few cents more than the cost of the stamp. And unlike other mailing materials, the stationery can only be sold by the Postal Service.

"You can buy packaging tape at the drugstore, but nobody else can sell stationery with postage imprinted on it," he said.

The Postal Service said if the commission steps in and regulates its pricing, stamped stationery and the public will suffer. It might have to sell the stamps and the paper separately, which would devalue such an arrangement for Disney, the Postal Service, the public and collectors.

"Again, the likely result would be no more stamped stationery with licensed artwork," a Postal Service filing said.

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