For various reasons I couldn't get to a Post and Go office to get the Pigs Faststamps until yesterday, and what a laboured exercise it turned out to be!
Now I appreciate that collectors and dealers test these machines to their limits, but problems with the mechanical aspects are frustrating and cause delays for all PO customers with a facility which ought to make life easier.
Post and Go machines are, in some ways, the most flexible way of buying stamps because you can pay in cash, or by debit or even credit card. However, you cannot buy more than 99 Faststamps in a session. Indeed if you want only Worldwide 10g stamps you cannot buy 20 at a session, through the 'post an item' menu.
I wanted more than 20 sets of 36 stamps: 6 values x 6 designs. The new 'Collectors Set' menu option makes this easier than before, but with a maximum of 99, you can only buy 16 sets (= 96 stamps). I had armed myself with a pocket full of £20 notes and duly selected the first £86.40 worth of pigs. The machine refused to accept £20 notes - or £10 notes - or £5 notes. Fortunately the branch assistant was willing to go and change my notes into £1 coins.
So I had 16 sets with the Saddleback as the 1st class stamp. Next, buy a single 1st class Saddleback. Then buy 16 sets with the Berkshire as the 1st class stamp. Then a single 1st Berkshire, and 16 sets with the Old Spot as the 1st class, and so on. Inevitably with so many £1 coins going into the machine, the coin-bucket filled up and more coins were not accepted. Cancel the transaction, with a sound like a fruit-machine paying a jackpot, as over £40 came tumbling back out.
Pay by card. This is eminently sensible if you want up to 200 stamps in two transactions. But card companies will not accept that anybody will repeatedly use a card to make similar transactions through a vending machine all morning! Your experience would vary but you may find your card blocked after 4, 5, 10 transactions. I'd had this problem previously, which is why I had bought cash. But I reverted to cards - a selection of debit and credit cards. Problems previously associated with bad card-readers didn't occur this time, and all my cards were accepted - much relief all round.
So with a mixture of cash and cards, and using both machines, I scuttled away after over 2 hours with all the sets I wanted and a few spares for postage.
Thanks to the patient staff at Castle Mall, Norwich, for their assistance with this exercise! See you in September for the Cattle.
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