Thursday, 1 February 2018

This is why so much mail is pen-cancelled

Following the arrival of yet another vandalised item of mail, and a letter from a customer about a Crown Office which refused to cancel the stamps on his special delivery letter, I had some discussion with PO Ltd on twitter.

This is the sad item of postal history:



Two parts of POL's reply to me are relevant:


Now I know, and you know, that Special Delivery mail is not subject to machine processing at Mail Centres, therefore it won't go into the sorting and cancelling machine, and will not get postmarked.  Uncancelled stamps on parcels and packets MAY get a packet handstamp, or the wavyline canceller, but everything else - no, nothing.

Except, of course, that the alert postman or woman in charge of the secure 'Cage' will see uncancelled stamps and get his pen out.  As he should, for revenue protection.

Sad isn't it?  The postal service is trying to prevent reuse of stamps, and it's agreement with the first acceptor doesn't seem to provide for the cancellation of the high value stamps that are used.

22 comments:

  1. Seems to me, someone in The Post Office guessed an answer which is exactly what Tallents House does as well. If you asked a different person from The Post Office another time, i bet the answer will not be the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was actually a drawn out exchange of messages, which leads me to believe that Tom was checking first with what he could find, and then with somebody more senior.

      Delete
  2. None of my three local Post Office ‘Locals’ cancel stamps on anything, nor does one of my local ‘Main’ offices.

    ReplyDelete
  3. But the fact is that it not only happens on Special Delivery Mail. It happens again and again in all kind of letters. When I complain, I get a beautiful "sorry", and another ruined letter the following day. Sad, and unprofessional.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As you can see, cancellation of stamps on ordinary letters is not required, even if I can get it done all the time for my customers. Nonetheless, the lack of efficiency in RM's a problem, and one which I am told they are addressing by making mail cancellation one of the internal quality control monitors. It is in their interest for revenue protection.

      Delete
  4. The thing that baffles me about this (and it always has) is that Royal Mail invests millions in technological fixes like security slips to prevent re-use of stamps and then fails to take the simple basic step that was invented 177 years ago - cancel the stamps! Not only do they not cancel, the twitter exchange seems to suggest that they actively create policies that say "do not cancel".

    From a revenue protection viewpoint, surely it would make more sense to cancel stamps at the point of posting rather than relying on the postman outdoors in who knows what weather to notice uncancelled items and use his/her trusty pen!





    ReplyDelete
  5. I have always assumed that all mail which would not normally go in a street postbox was cancelled at the PO. The labels on bags from POs are specifically designed so that the items do not go to the cancelling stage of processing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's a false assumption, and I think you may have to explain the labels business, and show examples.

      Certainly mailbags are split by types of mail with ordinary letters in one set of bags, and Large Letters and Small Parcels in others; that could be the difference. The latter should be already cancelled at the counter or with Horizon labels that don't need cancellation.

      Ordinary letters should be machineable and therefore will be emptied at the Mail Centres for machine sorting AND cancellation. There's no way that every (small) Letter handed over the counter will be hand-cancelled at the counter, that's quite clear.

      Delete
    2. Excuse my ignorance - How do I insert an image?

      Delete
    3. Ian, I can't find the labels, I may be wrong but I recall they were used to prevent PO counter items going into the main feed of the IMPs. I remember Post & Go bag labels and Horizon/Stamped bag labels. They were then segregated into different Yorks on arrival at the mail centre - i.e. kept separate from postbox mail. Problem is, I don't recall what happened to them after that...

      Delete
    4. "Excuse my ignorance - How do I insert an image?"
      You can't. You can send any images to me at the email address at top righ.

      Delete
    5. Regarding segregation, our PO has a mailbox which leads to a sack behind the PO counter. That mail isn't removed from the sack by the postmaster. I must ask him about labelling.

      Delete
  6. I think I'd be putting a claim in to Royal Mail for an item damaged in the post and claiming the full SG used value ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There may be one fly in the ointment, that ‘stamps’ are the property of the Royal Mail even when purchased, like bank notes are the property of the Bank of England and coins are the property of the Royal Mint.

      Delete
    2. I think you are incorrect on all three counts. My money is mine, my stamps are mine, and Royal Mail cannot at any time demand their return.

      Delete
    3. Oh! that vexed question.

      Your money is your money.

      The way that money is transferred from one person (using the legal definition) to another is carried out by using an instrument (legal definition) bank notes, coins, cheques and debit cards are the property of the issuing organisation. We all hold these as a ‘right’ (subject to legal restriction) to effect a transaction:-
      Bank notes by the Bank of England under authority or Parliament
      Coins by the Royal Mint under authority or Parliament
      Cheques and debit cards under authority of the issuing bank
      Bank to Bank transfers and internet payments from your account to other by-passes the above.
      Credit Card payments are a purchase using the issuing companies’ money, and you repay this at a later date.

      Stamps are, as we know, are issued by the Royal Mail under Authority of Parliament. At one time they were used to add value to Postal Orders, and lower value stamp could be exchanged for higher value stamps (you probably need to be long in the tooth to remember that) at the Head Post Office for that postal district or at any other designated post office.

      Delete
  7. I may be wrong but I'm getting older and can remember the days when everything was done 'proper'. I was told that letters were always postmarked as that could be 'proof' of posting in any legal challenges which were needed in evidence. That's back in the 1950-60s before 'signed for' and suchlike. Somewhere in the back of my mind there was a saying that a contract could be deemed completed at the time of posting. Similarly my old dad did his football pools regularly and he always posted them (like a significant number of people)on a Friday morning knowing that they would be accepted for that Saturdays' games. Today I regularly send 1st & 2nd class large letters (in an A4 size envelope containing a couple of sheets of paper) Documents that I don't want to fold. The recipients tell me that they are very rarely postmarked and I would suggest that 90% of my mailings are received that way as I usually just pop them in the box and do not hand them over the counter. In fact on several occasions I have handed over large letters to be postmarked at the counter only to be told that they can't be postmarked that way. Eventually I have 'educated' a local office to do the postmarking. Mind you one of my latest letters treated thus did arrive next day and the recipient reported that not only did the letter have nice round cancellations on the stamps but also had applied nice bold felt tip pen all over the stamps as well!!!
    Doug (Enfield)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posting_rule#English_case_law

      Delete
  8. Sad, indeed, I also saw this problem here in my country! Perhaps it would be good for today's postal administrations to give more respect to stamps, written correspondence and, above all, to philatelists. Cătălin

    ReplyDelete
  9. When I was working in a Royal Mail sorting office as a Christmas temp staff, we were told that special delivery items were sorted separately from ordinary mail in a strong room within the mail centre. The Post Office counter clerk should have cancelled the stamps using his/her counter postmark. In cases of small items (I have seen people sending Christmas cards that are no bigger than the palm of a hand), we were told to put these items into a box and these smaller items will get sorted by hand.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ian

    Very interesting discussion

    Whilst Royal mail want things to happen as per Tom's answer the post offices are not contractually obliged to do this. My own satellite post office only cancels Special Delivery (I think Tom is wrong on this point). Post Office wants them to cancel the other categories and the less knowledgeable will do, Indeed a new sub post office I occasionally use also h/ss any mail on a certificate of posting.

    John Embrey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, I have seen the horizon instructions to cancel the mail that Tom specified and it does date from 2014.

      In the meantime the details have been sent to several people in RM including Revenue Protection and PO liaison.

      As you say, Tom is wrong but I accept that is what he has been tony.

      Delete