Monday 13 April 2015

Revenue protection - Royal Mail phasing out the pen-cancel?

According to MyRoyalMail, the  business is reporting a 9% decline in the number of non-cancelled postage stamps in the network.

"We also cancel the stamp parcels that we get through the parcels pipeline, which has helped to protect our revenue.

A new hand-stamp tool has also been successfully trialled in Banbury and London delivery offices with a view to being rolled out nationwide in the new financial year. This will make it easier for teams to cancel stamps."

Operational changes to the mailstream should help to pull out uncancelled mail - although direction to Post Office branches to cancel mail on request would help collectable mail get a good postmark.

From the picture it still seems like a handstamp and an old-fashioned PO inkpad rather than a self-inking device which would probably be more efficient.

I've been sent this picture which shows what appears to be a self-inking wavy-line handstamp, said to have been chosen from one of 6 trialled at Banbury in Oxfordshire.

But anything that prevents stamps being cancelled like these below, has to be good.

The first of these already has the machine postmark; the second is uncancelled.

And this one, by Special Delivery, should have been cancelled at the Post Office branch counter - this is deliberate destruction of the customer's property.

UPDATE 1 July 2015
Thanks to an Anonymous comment, these from ''

From today, delivery offices will start to receive the new hand-stamping tool. Non-cancelled postage stamps in our network lose the business significant amounts of money each year. This tool is designed to easily help our postmen and women stamp out this loss of revenue.
Last year, we asked you for your ideas about how we can protect our revenue. We listened to your suggestions and acted on your feedback and have developed the new hand-stamping tool.
We trialled six shortlisted hand-stamp tools at Banbury and Mount Pleasant delivery offices to arrive at the best model for the job.
Although the first opportunity to cancel stamps is in the mail centre, postmen and women are an essential last line of defence to tackle the issue. Remember: revenue protection is everyone’s responsibility.
Keep an eye out for the new hand-stamp tool in your office.
While our new hand-stamping tool will help our postmen and women protect our revenue, mail centres are the first line of defence in making sure stamps are cancelled.
In a mail centre, it’s important that the stamp cancelling function on your machine is on and working properly at all times. Your machine works at the same speed regardless of whether the stamp-cancelling function is on or off.
There are a number of reasons a stamped letter may still be processed through the machine and not cancelled.
  • The letter is not processed through the correct machine configuration
  • It was not detected by the machine, for example due to a dirty scanner
  • The printer may have run out of ink
  • The printer may be faulty or not maintained
If you experience any difficulty with your machine, please speak to your manager.
In addition to machines, all mail centres should have their manual hand-stamp areas staffed at all times.
Revenue protection is everyone’s responsibility.
I'll be happy to report on usage of these new handstamps, especially if there is any clue as to where they have been used.  Let's award stars to the Mail Centres which use them, and raspberries to those which don't!


  1. Yikes, that last item is genuinely 'disturbing'...

  2. On a similar note....I can't remember the last time I actually signed for a Recorded Signed for delivery. They normally just get shoved through the letter box by someone who doesn't seem to understand what "please do not bend" means!

  3. What a shame, such beautiful stamps.

  4. Personally, I make a point of cancelling stamps on any item of mail other than a standard letter sized item - large letters, small parcels, SD items - anything......

    The reuse of postage stamps is one of those things that really hacks me off & it can all be aboided if POL people did their jobs correctly at the counter.

    1. Thank you Richard, good to know that somebody knows the right thing to do. I think the turnover of staff especially in conversion to the 'Local' model (which could have a whole string of blog entries to itself) has a lot to do with the lack of awareness.

      I went to the new PO in Presteigne last week and was amazed to find that they were also agents for MyHermes parcels. They match the lowest RM price; collect, and track with compensation. I wouldn't expect too much Parcel traffic at that PO branch.

  5. I have grave doubts about the PO local model - I fear we are stuck with it but, IMHO, it shows that POL are happy to run a deskilled cheap & cheerful network of sub PO's that provide a service of sorts that fits with the multiple operators employment practices - an expression concerning peanuts and monkeys comes to mind.

  6. Even from a non-philatelist view, the last one is sheer vandalism. What sort of numpty would do that? An IQ of 2 or something? Why has he or she got a job if they are that ignorant?

  7. I wonder if the ball point pen mark was applied before or after the cancel

    1. Probably after, but it's really crass to scribble on something that has had a postmark applied by the Special Handstamp Centre.

      Of course in the old days everything (small) out of the SHC was slid into a plastic sleeve which would avoid any other cancellation - pen or machine.

  8. The roll out begins

  9. Any news on this? I still occasionally get pencancelled post.

    1. The wavy line handstamps are widely used, but I suspect many people in the delivery offices have forgotten where they are, or can't be bothered to use them.

  10. Just wondering why some are against the last photo? As long as the stamp is cancelled surely that is all the matters?
    Be it at the PO with a canceller, going through the network or by hand like shown?
    Just asking not trying to start anything..

    1. Many of us amortise our postage costs by reselling the stamps received on incoming mail. The not-inconsiderate face value on that last item would, if fine used, have returned a good portion of the postage cost. Everyone wins. This wanton destruction serves no purpose. Royal Mail has two choices, to fix the obviously failed automatic cancelling process, or insist on postal staff using the wavy-line handstamp issued to them


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