Friday, 20 February 2015

The Guernsey Post and Go Stamps Stampex Project.

Readers of a certain age, whether or not they were directly involved with IT systems will probably recall the frustration of the differences between what the specification showed, what was programmed and what the user actually wanted, summed up in this widely distributed cartoon or a version of it.


This probably 40-year old cartoon came to mind as I travelled back on the train from Stampex yesterday evening, having found that things there were not totally as expected.  So here is my version:

#1. How the customer planned it.
Guernsey Flag stamps with normal Guernsey Service Indicators: GY for Bailliwick and UK for UK mail.   The plan was for the machine at Stampex to include a Spring Stampex February 2015 inscription.
Guernsey_PG_web_plain_set_GY.jpg
#2. What the contractor delivered - Stampex inscription on Guernsey Flag stamps.
Note the service indicators for Bailliwick mail are the same as were produced for Jersey Post, "Local Letter" and "Local Large".  It would have made more sense to use the shorthand form that Guernsey islanders and visitors are used to.

GU_PG_Flag_B002_Stampex006.jpg


#3. What the Bureau advertised ...
... what we advertised, and so what our customers ordered -  as #1 and #2 but both in vertical strips of 6.

#4 What the Facilitator decided ...
... and what the machine dispensed.  Stampex inscription on Union Flag stamps, but not on Guernsey Flag stamps.  [Jersey stamps were sold without a Stampex inscription when they first appeared at Stampex, and 'somebody' decided that this was a precedent which should be followed, despite announcements and advertisements suggesting otherwise, and despite the initial supplies to the island being with Stampex inscription!  Although this should have been a Guernsey Post decision, it seems that Royal Mail had a strong influence in the result.]

GU_PG_Flag_GG01_plain006.jpg GU_PG_UFlag_GG01_Spex006.jpg

#6. What this customer thought.
STRESSPIC6.jpg


Having asked customers for their orders I have obtained what I think they will want, and the extra versions which were not as advertised.  Of course it may be that some people will have ordered some strips direct from the Bureau, as they were not expected to be on sale at Stampex.*

If this happened with Royal Mail stamps, it would be less of a problem, because any surplus can be used for postage.  But despite my best efforts at making sure than I knew what was happening, including telephoning the island to double-check, I am likely to be left with surplus Guernsey stamps.

* Orders will be processed early next week.

Postscript:
Rumours at Stampex yesterday suggested that both the Isle of Man and Gibraltar postal administrations would introduce Post and Go machines either at Europhilex or Autumn Stampex.

UPDATE 24 February
The latest comment (below) led me to think more about the changes, and misinformation.

If the decision to go with plain Guernsey Flag stamps meant that the Union Flag GG stamp had the 'Stampex' inscription, that probably explains why the Royal Mail machines switched the 'Stampex' inscription from Machin to Union Flag stamps.  It would not have been right to have Guernsey printing 'Stampex' on the Flag if RM were not.

But we were told about the switch from Machins on 5 February, so there was plenty of time for Guernsey Post and IAR to change the pre-issue information about what they were producing.  It begs the question just how early the Guernsey Back Office flagstamps (WITH the Stampex inscription) were printed.  If the decision was taken before 5 February, why was the Guernsey bureau supplied with Stampex-inscribed Guernsey Flag stamps, given that there was then 2 weeks to Stampex?


11 comments:

  1. I admire and pay tribute to your tenacity in your reporting of the ongoing Post And Go issues. I have long lost track of what has been appearing and ask a question to which I'm sure I should know the answer but instead am gravelly confused about - is this latest Union Jack with Stampex inscription issue basically a Royal Mail issue to be included in a British collection or is it a Guernsey issue which just happens to depict the Union Jack rather than Guernsey's own flag and therefore should be included in my Guernsey collection?

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    1. Thank you.

      The Union Flag issue is a Royal Mail stamp with British service indicators. These are part of your British collection, although apart from the datastring they are no different to the ones sold here.

      UK stamps are already sold by both Guernsey and Jersey for the benefit of islanders (for example, if they need to send an SAE to the UK).

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  2. Brilliant blog Ian. The Royal Mail set-up for P&G continues to maintain William Heath Robinson traits! Shows consistency!!

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  3. We went on Wednesday and then at least they had the overprinted available on the Guernsey counter - totally unadvertised but I just saw a pile when I walked past - they called them 'back office'. When I got home I saw on their website that both overprinted and non-overprinted Guernsey flags are available direct from them that way.

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    1. I discovered the same by accident on the Thursday - again by seeing a pile of the overprinted version on the counter. In addition when I asked if they had the unoverprinted version with GG in the data string they said they were not supplied to them. However when I asked to check the presentation packs at the counter I noted that they contained the unoverprinted version with GG in the datastring (as had the FDCs).

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  4. As these labels have to comply with U.P.U regulation, hence the change for Jersey from J001 to JE01 and the change for Guernsey in their announcement from GY01 to GG01, as GY is the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) code for Guyana. The codes in this list for Guernsey, Isle of and & Jersey were reserved by the UPU for use by the relevant Postal organisation on the Islands. I can only assume that the use of GY on the Guernsey local self-adhesive stamps issued for the last few years as an oversight, but then again with Guyana’s output who’s going to notice, unless they are not valid beyond the island’s shores.

    If the rumours are true about the Isle of Man and Gibraltar, the Isle of Man code will be IM and Gibraltar will be GI.

    The late change to the output of GG01 does question who has the final say in what the machines vend, the postal administration or Royal Mail?

    GG01 should have vended both types of stamp labels and not the Union Flag, but then revenue from the machine would have been significantly reduced.

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    1. Thanks for the info about the UPU. Of course if the stamps were ONLY valid for Bailliwick mail then that may not matter?

      Your penultimate para is the key of course.

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    2. I understood that the Isle of Man already had their own machines that collected parking penalties, utility bills and rents as well as postage, the labels look something the early white Horizons. There is also a similar system to post and go in the Irish Republic except that the labels have the design on the left and text on the right and bulk users can hire a small machine from An Post which, when connected to the internet, allows them to print their own labels.

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  5. I and possibly others assumed that the late decision by Royal Mail to switch the Stampex inscription from Machin to Union Flag stamp labels for to ensure a standardised approach to the offerings at Stampex. I can understand the desire to offer “plain” Guernsey labels as their first Offering, rather the announced embellished ones, which clearly fall in the category of exhibition souvenir. It all smacks of indecision and haste, collectors and I dare say dealers to like certainty, but all we get with these faux stamp is indecision and confusion, rather than the slick cohesive image that Royal Mail wish to portray with them, as the Royal Mail bloke was saying at Spring Stampex 2014, when he was bemoaning the Post Office’s approach. It is clearly as a case of physician heal thy self.

    Judging by the comment on the IAR website about Stampex, it seems the Isle of Man will be next (Eurofilex?) So in three months time we could be doing it all again. On the bright side at least the date code variation seem to have abated.

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    1. A pity the IAR site hasn't corrected the information about what was produced at Stampex for Guernsey.

      See http://tinyurl.com/ou428c6 and the press release on the next image.

      Thinking about it, if the decision to go with plain Guernsey Flag stamps meant that the Union Flag GG stamp had to have the Stampex inscription that probably explains why the Royal Mail machines switched the Stampex inscription from Machin to Union Flag stamps. It would not have been right to have Guernsey printing Stampex on the Flag if RM were not.

      But we were told about the switch on 5 February, so there was plenty of time for Guernsey Post and IAR to change the pre-issue information about what they were producing. It begs the question just how early the Guernsey Back Office flagstamps (WITH the Stampex inscription) were printed.

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  6. Gibraltar have added Post & Go to their forthcoming releases
    http://www.gibraltar-stamps.com/index.php?controller=stamps&action=content&id=1095

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