Friday, 25 August 2017

List of Current Post Office Philatelic Counters

The August edition of Royal Mail's Philatelic Bulletin includes a list of what are described as Philatelic Post Office Counters.  Already we have had one correction, so this cannot be regarded as completely accurate.

City of London - 12 Eastcheap, LONDON EC3M 1AJ

Trafalgar Square - 24-28 William IV St, LONDON WC3N 4DL

House of Commons - LONDON SW1A 0AA

The Galleries - Castle Gallery, BRISTOL BS1 3XX

CAMBRIDGE - 57-58 St Andrews Street CB2 3BZ

CHESTER ?    2 St John Street, Chester, CH1 1AA      §

COLCHESTER - 68-70 North Hill, CO1 1PX

CROYDON - 10 High Street CR9 1HT

EXETER - 28 Bedford Street EX1 1GJ

GRIMSBY - 67-71 Victoria Street DN31 1AA

HARROGATE - 11 Cambridge Road, HG1 1AA

PORTSMOUTH - Slindon Street PO1 1AB

SOUTHAMPTON - St John's Centre, Hedge End SO30 4QU (see comment)

STROUD - 16-17 Russell Street GL5 3AA

TROWBRIDGE - Temporary Unit, Lovemead Carpark, Duke Street, BA14 8EA
1a Roundstone Street, Trowbridge, BA14 8DA

YORK - 22 Lendal YO1 8DA


§ the postcode quoted in the Bulletin was for Chester HO, so it may be that Chester should be in the list.

Given the reports we have received about Trafalgar Square, I wonder whether we can trust this?  I'm sure some of the provincial offices now offer a much better service than that reportedly offered by what was once the flagship office in the heart of London's stamp district.  These comments were made on my post about country definitives:
- Earlier in the year I visited the Philatelic Counter at Trafalgar Square Post Office seeking a particular definitive. I was told that they had been instructed to issue 'labels' instead of definitive, and that once stocks had been used, they would not be restocked. They would in future only hold limited stock of new definitive issues. I was advised to contact Stamps and Collectibles who would supply the particular stamp.
- The "Collectors" counter at Trafalgar Square, London currently have all the regional issues - BUT - when I asked for some Welsh stamps I was told that they would not be re-stocking once current stock exhausted. I have to question the function of a "Collectors Counter" if it is not for selling items to collectors.
There must be some readers of this blog in some of the other areas: what is your experience of the stock and services of these offices? 

18 comments:

  1. The last time I went to Grimsby they refused to sell me the stamps I wanted because distribution had put the wrong issue date on the cardboard protecting them. At that time the Philatelic Counter mainly did Loto.

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    1. This raises an interesting point. Issues dates were controlled in the past by embargo notices - "Do not sell or exhibit these ... stamps before ... unless authority is given by Postal Headquarters". Does anybody know what the mechanism is to control issue date nowadays?

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    2. Aside from the sheet markings, I don't think there are any embargo notices now except for specific (usually Royal) instances. This in part accounts for the number of instances of early release of special issues.

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  2. The last time I tried Trafalgar Square, I was served by someone who neither knew nor cared about philatelic matters

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  3. Cambridge is always extremely helpful

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  4. Bristol Galleries always seem to have most things in stock (exception being cylinder books which always seem to be few and far between!). Take a ticket for 'Express Mails' when you enter as this is the position that deals with philatelic items. The lady and gent who normally man this position are very helpful!

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  5. In London, Trafalgar is certainly disappointing and Eastcheap even more so. Perhaps I'll try the House of Commons! The regular lady at Trafalgar does her best but within pretty limiting boundaries (although I don't know whether they are self-imposed). For example, they don't order in any new printings of definitive stamps (e.g. 1st, 2nd, signed for etc.) - only ordering them when they actually run out (which is rare as they aren't a regular mailing services counter) - they still have the Long to Reign stamps as their 1st class option... She blames Royal Mail stock control and it seems amazing to me that, as a philatelic counter, they aren't automatically sent a small number of everything in the same way that individual collectors seem to be able to get from Tallents House. Eastcheap doesn't even seem to acknowledge it's philatelic status and didn't have anything useful in when I went there. My local post office (in a Co-op) does a better job of getting in new stock, although they are also beholden to whatever they get sent rather than being able to specify. But at least they are willing to go through the process of sending back stock and getting replacements in an attempt to get the latest printings for their small number of collector customers.

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    1. If you haven't already, run your eyes over the earlier posts about the very impressive endorsements of the Eastcheap philatelic counter:
      http://blog.norphil.co.uk/2015/05/post-office-philatelic-sales-in-london.html

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    2. " She blames Royal Mail stock control"
      As far as I know Royal Mail aren't involved: philatelic supplies come from PO Supplies Swindon in the same way that they do for the rest of the Trafalgar Square office. Maybe they should be, but that would raise all sorts of accounting complications between the two companies.

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  6. Interesting to see the House of Commons on the list. Does this mean that there are a lot of GB collectors among the ranks of our MPs? Is this just a PR exercise? Are all issues in stock and readily available?

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  7. One has to ask how accurate this list is ?. Having been on the south coast yesterday, I attended Portsmouth Post Office, Slindon Street, to see what they had to offer. To be blunt absolutely nothing. The Post Office DOES NOT have a philatelic counter. They couldn't understand how the Post Office was listed

    It would appear that Royal Mail and the Post Office need to communicate with each other, and provide a definitive list of Post Offices that have Philatelic Counters.

    In relation to the House of Commons Post Office, this used to be in the lobby area, however the Post Office is now located in Port Cullis House, which has restricted access. So unless you know an MP, the chances of gaining access are almost nil.

    Apart from the Post Offices already mentioned, can anybody shed a light on the others, to confirm whether they still have or indeed have ever had a 'Philatelic Counter' ?

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  8. Chris

    I can amend two of the offices Hedge End is IIRC a 2 counter office located within a Costa Coffee shop so I would suggest no philatelic counter.
    Trowbridge is located at 1A Roundstone Street definately not in a car park, I could not say whether it has a counter or not.

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  9. I visited Exeter (Bedford St Post Office) and asked at the normal counter about availability of Prestige stamp booklets, to be told that I should go to the Business Section counter, when I went to that counter, they had presentation packs displayed at the counter, I asked for Prestige stamp booklets, after repeating the request several times the man behind the counter said he didn't know about them and would look in the back room, he came back and asked if I wanted presentation packs or first day covers, so I repeated the request and asked if he could find out about the availability of Prestige stamp booklets, he said he had never heard of them and didn't know and advised me to look online!!!!!

    Looks like end of the line for stamp collectors at the post office.

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  10. I went to the King William IV Street Office at 3pm this afternoon as I was in London and passing through nearby Charing Cross station. There is a take-a-ticket system in operation; so common in Sweden but rare here now; and to my surprise I was called forth within a couple of minutes. Although the clerk was foreign, when I asked for 50 Northern Ireland 2nd class NVIs he knew what I wanted and fetched a folder marked 'regional issues'. Although there is no 'philatelic counter' marked as such, flushed with success I asked for some £1.17s also from Ulster. I got them. He then sought to sell me better telephone service but if I wanted to ring people up I would not be buying stamps so I made and excuse and left to catch a train home. Joking apart my 50 NVIs had come from a larger sheet and they have been printed in 50 sheets fro a while so their stock may be old. My advice is fill your boots while you can. I could see loads of Classic Toys stuff around so this office does count as philatelic I think.

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  11. Interesting to see the comment about King William IV street. Maybe a trick has been missed! Although there is a 'ticket' system in place it is not used for the Collectables counter. For that counter it is a general queue and does not 'call forward' those with tickets. Clearly in the instance outlined a general counter clerk went along to the collectables area and obtained the folders and got some 'service'. It is my opinion that the Collectables counter only re-stocks when its stocks are low. Hence as it is not a general counter the demand for normal definitive stamps is very low and thus turnover does not require stocking with the newer definitives. ("Chicken & Egg"). As an example until recently the only books of 4 x 1st large were still the 'gold' issue. Eastcheap office (in EC3 near to The Monument) also has a ticket system and it works well. However, if you are called forward and require 'philatelic' or something special it is thus possible to arrive at a 'wrong' counter. (All counters are covered by the ticket process). Do not despair. Explain, and they will direct you to the appropriate counter and will make sure you don't lose your turn. The general counter you require is the first position on the right hand side (at the rear of the building, past the Post & Go area)as you enter the building. Always been very helpful. For commemoratives they have large folders which keep everything flat so as not to fold or crease the sheets. I've never had a problem with the staff, always helpful. Sadly these days it has become a very hit and miss situation regarding counter service. I have experienced some most excellent as well as dam rude but that is the luck of the draw. Quite often it is necessary to really explain what you are looking for as most counter clerks have no idea about Year and source codes. My advice is always try to avoid busy periods. I always have a photocopy of the items I am after as it does help the counter clerk to visualise what issues I'm looking for. I do travel around a lot and have called in at a significant number of Post Offices from the Isle of Wight to Newcastle upon Tyne. Whenever in a Post Office always ask for a 'feedback' card and ask the counter clerk to put their name on it. Always go on-line and complete the survey.
    Doug (Enfield)

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    1. "Whenever in a Post Office always ask for a 'feedback' card and ask the counter clerk to put their name on it. Always go on-line and complete the survey. "

      Good idea Doug, though it doesn't help with those that (as you told me) you give up after standing in a long queue for too long. Feedback through twitter or other social media might help there, but it is more public.

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  12. Harrogate used to have a Philatelic counter but it was removed for a plain shop about three years ago. They were pretty hopeless at getting any stock and blamed it on they relied solely on what they were sent and wouldn't even attempt to get items. Added to that the people serving had no idea whatsoever about any of the stamp products and would end up searching blindly. Now without the Philatelic counter the other staff at the counter positions don't want to know. Even Tallents House in Edinburgh don't want to know about specific dated definitives and their books thus making collecting a very difficult job these days, despite Royal Mail fleecing collectors with numerous issues which has become more prevalent since it was privatised.

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  13. After my trip to London last week I went to Colchester North Street branch. There was a tcket system here too and I was 18th in the queue for 'counter services'. When I eventually got to the one clerk O was redirected to 'business services.' After some explanation I did get some Ulster £1.40s, but there were few left and they, after another explanation, had no English 2nd class NVIs at all. So it is a philateleic counter but only just!

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