I showed the new self-adhesive Poppy stamps when they arrived just before the issue date 23 October.
But my local post office branch didn't have any on the day of issue. This seems to be a widespread problem. One of our regular reporters wrote last week; I have removed the names of the branches for the time being:
I went to the main town Post office and asked for the Poppy
stamps with the pictures from you web site. The counter staff hadn’t
heard of them and they certainly had none in stock. The staff happened
to question a young lady who was walking about (appeared to be a member
of staff) and she categorically told me that they don’t have these
stamps as they are only issued in a Post & Go machine!!
I went to a second office (remember they should know something
about stamps as they were one of the potential Sunday openings for the
Olympic issues). They were reasonable in listening to my request but
was told that they don’t have them and they had not heard of them.
did enquire about whether they had received their allocation of
Christmas Madonna & Child issue. I think she mixed this up with the
normal issue and I was told that the Christmas issue is not available
yet. I showed her the pictures and she said that these were an old
issue and they wouldn’t have them. I mentioned that these would be
available and was only enquiring whether they had received their
allocation. Puzzled for a moment she replied “Oh I think these are the
ones that are for sale to those on Pension Credit”
off I went to a third office, in Hertfordshire. A nice large quiet office and
very friendly staff. They hadn’t heard of the stamps but ensured
nothing had been received and missed.
then tried another main office in Essex. Over the years it a bit hit and miss –
sometimes really excellent but other times a disaster. Today, the most arrogant and officious person I’ve
ever dealt with. She had the poppy stamps but
said she didn’t think she should be selling them (I noted part of the
sheet had already been sold). I pointed to the printing in the margin
“Sale Date 23-Oct-2012” and her arrogant reply – “that’s nothing to do
with it – I haven’t been told that I can sell them”. She shrugged and
she said “I’m just getting on with it”.
I then enquired about the
Christmas Madonna & Child and to ensure she knew what I was talking
about I showed her pictures of the stamps. Strange reply – “We don’t
have them, the only ones I know about are these …” pointing to the
picture from page 40 of The Philatelic Bulletin (showing the 2011 1st class) . That’s odd as a) that
Christmas stamp is the earlier issue coming off sale on the 8th November and b) just above that picture are details and issue date of the poppy stamps.
My local post office branch still doesn't have any, so I decided to phone Post Office customer services on 0845 722 3344. After a couple of menu options I was answered surprisingly quickly (quicker than Royal Mail CS usually are!). I said I was enquiring about stamps, and said, "Every year you issue a Lest We Forget Poppy stamp but this year's doesn't seem to be available". The immediate response was "Not every year."
So that lady got off to a bad start. I told her that contradicting me was a bad start, and explained that not only had they been issued every year but that this year's was a new stamp, and that Post Office had told me on twitter that "They should be available at all branches." Our exchange continued, including her assertion that it was Royal Mail on twitter, but I explained that Post Office were there as well.
My call to the Customer Helpline has now been logged as a complaint to PO Customer Services, and I should get an answer within 10 working days.
Let's see how widespread this problem is - have you seen any in your local post offices?
Post Office helpline has called back. Apparently these stamps have been distributed to around 1000 branches, including all Crown* offices, and those with philatelic counters. They have also been distributed to selected offices near military bases and are available to all branches to order via the Horizon system. (* According to the Post Office Ltd Network Reportthere are only 373 Crown offices left.)
UPDATE 2 November:
these have started appearing on eBay it seems appropriate to say that
the Royal Mail product code is AS841 - although they weren't on the RM
shop website last time I looked, that's the code if you are ordering!
See also comments received so far. It would be useful to know whether those offices satisfy the above criteria?
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