Friday, 24 February 2017

Massive Increase in Basic Airmail Rates Will Hit PostCrossers

Royal Mail have announced the 2017 round of price changes, effective 27 March.  There are minor increases to basic inland letter rates, with no changes to the Signed For premium, or to Special Delivery Rates.  Airmail changes are a mix of up and down, but the major increase is in the basic letter rate for Europe up to 20g, Worldwide up to 10g, and postcards which rises 6.67% from £1.05 to £1.17.

The announcement can be read here, and new rate tables for non-business use downloaded here.  For people sending parcels with postage paid through Royal Mail Click and Drop, Royal Mail Online postage and online channels such as eBay, Amazon and PayPal postage rates are often lower but as that does not affect the price of stamps, or of postage from most stamp dealers, I will leave readers to find these out if they are interested.

The changes which affect the price of stamp issues are as follows:

Inland 1st and 2nd class 100g rates up 1p to 65p and 56p.
Inland 1st Large 100g letter rates up 2p to 98p and 2nd Large up 1p to 76p. (corrected)
    Rates for all other Large Letters increase, Small Parcels of 1kg, and 2kg 2nd class also increase but Medium Parcel and 2kg 1st class Small Parcel rates remain unchanged.

The Royal Mail Signed For premium of £1.10 remains on Letters and Large Letters.  Rates for Signed For Small and Medium Parcels are all reduced by 10p.

New stamps will be required for all standard Letters.

Europe 20g, Worldwide 10g and Postcard rate rises from £1.05 to £1.17, up 12p
Worldwide 20g rate rises from £1.33 to £1.40
Europe 100g rate rises from £1.52 to £1.57
Worldwide 100g rate rises from £2.25 to £2.27

For Large Letters the Europe 100g rate rises from £2.45 - £2.55 which will mean a new stamp, while the 250g rate rises from £3.70 to £3.80 (there is no stamp for this rate).  All other European and ALL Worldwide Large Letter rates remain unchanged so the £3.15 and £3.30 stamps should remain in use and we may see new M17L printings.

Most of the Airmail Small Parcel rates will rise.

Airmail premium services.
The rates for International Tracked and Signed, International Tracked and International Signed Letters remain unchanged despite some increases in the standard rates.

Rates for some Large Letter services are reduced while others remain unchanged.   The changes to Small Parcels are a fine-tuning mix of increases, reductions and unchanged.

International Surface or Economy
Royal Mail no longer issues stamps for economy rates.  Letters are increased by 12p from 90p to £1.02 up to 20g (a saving of 15p on a letter), and by 10p from £1.37 to £1.47 for up to 100g.  Most rates for Large Letters and Small Parcels are increased although a few are unchanged.

New stamps should be issued on 21 March at the following rates:

£1.17 - Letter: Europe 20g, Worldwide 10g and Postcard.

£1.40  - Worldwide letter up to 20g

£1.57 - Europe letter up to 100g

£2.27 - Worldwide letter up to 100g.

£2.55 - Europe Large Letter to 100g. 

There will also be 8 new Country Definitives, being £1.17 and £1.40 for each country. 

The cost of the new definitives if bought direct will be £19.24 plus Royal Mail handling charge.  A cylinder block (6) of each will cost £115.44!

The Post and Go Collectors strip of 6 will rise from £7.75 to £8.04, with the 2nd class pair rising from £1.30 to £1.32.

Sets of special stamps will increase accordingly, with the 10 x 1st Songbirds, for example, costing £6.50 instead of £6.40.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Postal Museum Website confuses your scribe

Well, I confess I was truly taken in by The Postal Museum webshop, and readers who really know their Post an Go quickly spotted that I had erred big time!  

As you know I have been less enthusiastic about the additional inscriptions available from around the country including the Postal Museum.  But checking their shop for the new postcard pack, I noticed the mail coaches and totally forgot that I had reported the issue last year.  That will teach me to double check what ought to be reliable sources. 

Apologies and thanks to the regular readers who commented on this original 'news posted yesterday. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Bowie Makes Early Appearance in SW London

One Post Office branch obviously doesn't want to keep special stamps cluttering up the safe for too long so they placed the David Bowie stamps on sale last week, possibly at the same time as the Windsor Castle stamps (or instead of?).  

A correspondent has sent this picture of the Hunky Dory stamp with a Jubilee Mail Centre postmark of 17 February, although in this picture it looks a bit like 17-03-2017.  The letter was sent from Sunbury-on-Thames (which doesn't necessarily indicate where the stamp was bought).

At the time of writing this is the Earliest Known Use of a 2017 Bowie stamp.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The machines are taking over - want any Wincor & NCR spares?

A Monday morning chuckle.   I'm sure all of you, especially those who use social media such as Facebook and Twitter, have at some time been amused by suggestions that the software makes to you regarding your viewing habits.  

Yesterday broadcaster Danny Baker reported that as he had mentioned Millwall FC several times, Twitter suggested he might like to follow West Ham United FC.  I've turned off suggestions from Twitter because they continue to suggest foreign-language stamp-related users (I really don't have time to translate what they say, although I'm sure some of it is very interesting), and other newspapers and media outlets because I follow local radio.

And if you look at the adverts that appear alongside this blog you will often see something that you have been looking for, or something about stamps.  That's because Google Ads - everybody sees something different - can be related to the cookies on your own computer, cookies generated when you search for your next holiday flight or replacement microwave.

If you own a website, especially one that shows in a prominent position on search-engine rankings, you often get spam email.  Most of this is related to improving your visibility, and correcting errors in the code, but some is related to the content on the website, but not stamps.   For many years we have been getting emails, several times a year, offering us woven military badges - this probably arises from the Army/Navy/Air Force Uniforms sets of stamps.

I had a new one today (twice) headed ATM Wincor NCR machine parts.  It made me smile on a Monday morning, though I doubt that was the intention!

Anyway, if your Post Office's Post and Go machine keeps developing faults, you can at least tell them where they can get spares!  

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Post and Go News from Royal Mail

Press Release
Royal Mail is pleased to announce that Mail by Rail (1st Class only) stamps will be available at STEAM GWR Swindon from 20 February until 15 March.

Machine A005, currently situated at The Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth, will be moving following a re-organisation at NMRN. The last day of sales at RMM will be 24 February.

A005 will be relocated to the East Anglian Railway Museum, Colchester from 20 March. The location ID will be EARM and it will vend Locomotive and Union Flag stamp designs.

Operational machine M011 is now live at MOD Filton Abbey Wood in Bristol. The MOD Open Day will be on 27 February §.

Operational machine M005, currently located at Croydon Enquiry Office, will be relocated in the next month. Details of the new site to follow.

§ Note this is not an open Open Day; I understand it is for visitors from other parts of MOD visiting Defence Equipment and Support I believe an additional inscription will be added to the stamps for a period from 27 February.  More details when we have them.

Monday, 13 February 2017

2017 Tariff Change may see some reductions - and increases!

It seems that the annual postal tariff change this year may see some reductions in airmail rates,
if the latest whispers are true.   I'm told that the new rate stamps will be issued on Tuesday 21 March 2017.

My correspondent, who has these new stamps on standing order from Tallents House, told me what the cost would be.  Allowing for the handling charge, the total cost - including the country definitives if that rate changes - is less than £14 for the set.

Back in 2015 the cost of the new worldwide airmail stamps (the postcard and basic rate stamp did not change from £1) totalled £14.  So, especially if the current £1.05 increases, some of the new rates would result in stamps of lower values than at present. 

Now it may be that my correspondent is mistaken - but whatever happens, we can expect some new Machin definitives in March.  Basic 1st and 2nd class rates will almost certainly rise, and as this will probably be on March 27th, it will make sense to buy any 1st class David Bowie stamps (issued on 14 March) before the rate goes up.

And don't forget Post and Go prices will also change, so if there is anything in the machines - Mail by Rail is issued this week - catch them before the increase as well.

An update to this has been posted on 24 February.    Further comments there please.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Don't follow Royal Mail's advice on this Valentine's slogan!

After marking Saint Dwynwen’s day last month, Royal Mail celebrates St Valentine's Day on 14 February, but without actually mentioning the saint.

Of course, it's all designed to get you to post a card, but as my correspondent points out, we can't help thinking that you will be unlucky in love if you follow Royal Mail's exhortation to 

Send a card to someone special on February 14th 2017

A couple of days earlier might be a good idea, or Monday 13th at the latest!

UPDATE 14/15 February
I can now show the similar slogan produced from the other machines (North West Midlands, 10.02.17), 

and the Larger version from Edinburgh 10.2.17; not that on this version a sans-serif font is used whereas on the Swindon example above, it was seriffed.  (Thanks JE)

and the replacement slogan used on 13 February (Peterborough) for delivery on the day itself, with the slogan surrounded by hearts.  And the IMP version from Lancashire and South Lakes MC (Preston) with the slogan in 3 lines [JE]

Happy Valentine's


Delivery delays on £5 Accession stamp

We would like to apologise to customers who have ordered the new £5 definitive stamp.

Our initial supplies were lower than for a normal new stamp - such as are issued when the rates change in spring - as we expected these to be available from many more post offices than turned out to be the case.  Consequently we have seen unexpected demand, especially for blocks.

Our suppliers have also seen greater demand and have not filled this week's order, although we fully expect to have more supplies next week.  So we will not be taking a lettuce leaf out of the supermarkets' books, and there is no restriction on orders - just a delay.

UPDATE 10 Feb: Good news, more stock received including whole sheets and cylinder blocks.  Bad news, every single lower right corner stamp was damaged by bad handling.  Will supply cylinder blocks and sheets as soon as possible.

All comments about non-availability on original thread, please - see above.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Labels to Go makes it easier to post parcels: one more reason not ot use stamps

Press Release 1 February 2017

Royal Mail has announced new plans to make it easier for consumers to post and return parcels at Customer Service Points in Delivery Offices nationwide.

From April 2017, customers will be able to print off delivery and return labels at all of Royal Mail’s 1,200 Customer Service Points.

With the new self-service solution, Labels to Go, customers returning items online or buying postage online will receive an email containing a unique QR code.  When this is scanned at a Customer Service Point, the QR code produces a postage label which can be applied to the parcel.

Currently, customers returning items using the Royal Mail returns portal or buying postage online using Click and Drop are required to print the postage labels at home.  But increasingly consumers are ordering, paying for, sending and returning items online.

With over 50 per cent of UK shoppers using a mobile phone for their online purchases, customers will benefit from the convenience of being able to print postage labels and post their parcels at the same time. It will also save time and money as they do not need to have a printer at home.

For businesses, this means even more convenient returns for their customers, high print quality of returns labels, and the visibility of Tracked Returns through the Royal Mail network.

My thanks to John Enfield for pointing out my error in suggesting that this might impact - either way - on Post Offices.  These are, of course, Royal Mail customer service points at Delivery Offices (DO).  Most of us are not familiar with these - unless we have to collect undelivered or underpaid items.  My local DO is very small, with the CSP about 8 feet square, so it doesn't immediately spring to mind as a place for posting anything, especially with the regular opening hours excluding the period from 10 am - 12 noon, the most likely time for a visit for many of us. 

The press release also includes a reminder that "The company also announced [last year] that customers will be able to send pre-paid parcels from Delivery Offices across the UK."   Not being a regular visitor I have never seen this happen.  Perhaps readers who visit larger offices can tell us what happens and the procedure.  I can see how it would work for on-line prepaid parcels with a home-printed certificate of posting, but if stamps are used what do they use to cancel the stamps?  For those few offices with Post and Go machines, what happens if you use P&G to send a parcel at a Delivery Office. 

All contributions welcome, especially with evidence of cancellation and/or receipts.  Thanks!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Unannounced new Post and Go BFPO Installation

Thanks to Trevor we can report that a further BFPO Post and Go machine has been installed.

M011 is now located at the Ministry of Defence offices at Abbey Wood, Bristol. 

Images provide so far show session 0007 session was on 2 February (last Friday) so it is quite possible that this was the first day of live operation.  Both Machin and Union Flag stamps are available but it isn't possible to see the year code from the images.

UPDATE 7 February
I'm indebted to JG for providing a photo of later output from M011 - session 013 rather than session 007 above which shows a much better receipt, with a graphic logo.  DES = Defence Equipment and Support.

And Anonymous tells us that the Machin is MA13 and the flag is undated.

Any customers who require examples of either, or just the 1st class, please let me know and I will try to help.

UPDATE: We will shortly have these in collectors strips and individual 1st class stamps.

As we can see from the picture, this is one of the really slim machines.