Just one month after launching its custom postage service, Stamps.com scaled back the program on Monday in an attempt to deter controversial images from being affixed to the nation's mail.
The Los Angeles-based company said it will continue to offer the PhotoStamps service, whereby consumers can pay to have images of their choice printed as valid U.S. postage. However, the firm says it will focus on its two best-selling categories, babies/children and pets/animals. Stamps.com has banned any submissions bearing the likeness of adults or teenagers, but said it will continue to accept images including landscapes, nature, wildlife, business logos and charity logos.
Stamps.com executives said the company was forced to narrow consumers' options for the service based on "the abusive actions" of individuals who "went to great lengths to use the product in inappropriate ways."
Stamps.com did not immediately return calls seeking comment on its decision.
Almost immediately after the company launched PhotoStamps, Internet pranksters began detailing their attempts to have postage with controversial or humorous subjects printed. One site, The Smoking Gun, successfully ordered stamps featuring images of controversial figures including Ted Kaczynski, Jimmy Hoffa and Slobodan Milosevic, as well as postage graced by similarly notorious inanimate objects, such as Monica Lewinsky's famed blue dress.
From the start, Stamps.com, which received permission from the U.S. Postal Service to offer the PhotoStamps service on a trial basis, reserved the right to refuse printing stamps it deemed inappropriate. The Smoking Gun admitted that some of its submissions were rejected, including pictures of Lee Harvey Oswald and mob informer Sammy "the Bull" Gravano.
The company said response to the PhotoStamps launch has been encouraging, with more than 1 million orders already received for custom postage. The market test of PhotoStamps is expected to continue through the end of this month.
CNET News.com's Marguerite Reardon contributed to this report.