Tech Industry

Days numbered for personalized stamps?

Stamps.com, U.S. Postal Service in discussions to determine if the company's custom postage program should continue.

Time could be running out for pet lovers who want to put Fido's mug shot on a stamp.

On Thursday, Stamps.com said it is in active discussions with the U.S. Postal Service regarding whether or not to continue its personalized postage stamp pilot program.

Stamps.com launched the customized stamp service, called PhotoStamps, in August. When it debuted, the service was billed as a way for parents, pet owners, travelers and hobbyists to share their favorite digital photos. The stamps cost about twice the price of a regular stamp.

As part of its deal with the U.S. Postal Service, PhotoStamps was being tested to see if there was enough customer interest.

The market test is supposed to end Sept. 30, the company said. After that time, the U.S. Postal Service will decide whether to continue with the program or not.

"Customer response to PhotoStamps has been tremendous," a Stamps.com representative said in a statement. "More than a million individual PhotoStamps have been ordered since the service was launched on Aug. 10, and more than 90 percent of customers surveyed said they will order PhotoStamps again."

But almost as soon as PhotoStamps launched, Internet pranksters were pushing the limits of the service to see what humorous or controversial images they could slip past the Stamps.com censors. The Smoking Gun Web site successfully ordered stamps featuring images of controversial figures including Ted Kaczynski, Jimmy Hoffa and Slobodan Milosevic, as well as postage depicting similarly notorious inanimate objects such as Monica Lewinsky's famed blue dress.

Stamps.com, which from the beginning reserved the right to refuse printing stamps it deemed inappropriate, rejected some submissions such as Lee Harvey Oswald and mob informer Sammy "the Bull" Gravano.

Last week, the company decided to narrow the image options of the service to include only its two best-selling categories, babies/children and pets/animals. It 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.