Thursday 28 June 2018

Smilers to follow Business Customised Sheets into history?

Following the cessation of the Business Customised Service, this announcement is currently showing on Royal Mail's Smilers Stamps page:
Important Notice: Thank you for your interest in Smilers®. Please note that the Smilers® service is going to be put on hold for an indefinite period after 5pm (GMT) on Thursday, 26th July. Customers will not be able to order personalised Smilers® sheets after this time either via the Royal Mail website or by post. All orders received before then will be fulfilled as normal.

A reader has forwarded a separate correspondence about this which coincides with the launch of Royal Mail's new online shop:
I wanted to let you know that the personalised Smilers ® service is going to be put on hold for an indefinite period after Thursday 26th July as Royal Mail launches its new online shop. Customers will not be able to order personalised Smilers ® sheets when the new web platform goes live until further notice.
In preparation of the migration to the new website, we reviewed the range of products and services we offer on the current website and took the decision not to migrate the personalised Smilers ® service to the new shop when it goes live and to suspend it for the foreseeable future. Whether or not the service will be reintroduced at a later date is still to be decided.
I should add that we will continue to offer Generic Sheets, Exhibition Sheets and Commemorative Sheets.

Given the increasing cost and, more importantly, lack of publicity surrounding the personalisation service in recent years, I suspect the public - who don't send that many stamped social letters anyway - have forgotten about this service, and that most recent productions have come from philatelic societies and so on.  The failure to make each year's Christmas stamps available will have hastened this, because that is one area where there could have been sales. (See also this blogpost from two years ago.)

However, what demonstrates clearly that Royal Mail - at the same time as marketing special stamp-related products outside the hobby - are continuing to target stamp collectors with unnecessary sheets is the continuation of the Generic Sheet.  Remember, these were originally produced in response to collector and trade complaints that personalisation was an expensive way for collectors to buy stamps which were not available from any other source.

Given that Royal Mail have produced Generic Sheets which include stamps not available for the personalisation service, I regard these as just the same as Business Customised Sheets - posters which happen to contain stamps and a quite unnecessary addition to the programme.  The sooner these cease the better, as far as I am concerned, though I don't see that happening anytime soon.


  1. Why to purchase this kind of papers! It is up to us (the collectors) to regulate this problem. Royal Mail will stopp to issue such posters if we don't buy them.

  2. How does SG handle Smilers? My Concise is a little old (I stopped GB new issues about five years ago due to their expense), but remember SG only listed the sheets. In Australia our catalogues list the personalised stamps separately, as do Scott and Michel. While we can blame Royal Mail for a lack of publicity, a lack of catalogue status might have also had an impact.

    1. Hi Chris

      They are still listed just as sheets, although the narrative does indicate what the printing method, perforation and phosphor are, and by asterisk* whether these are different to the original sheet or booklet printing. So it IS possible to identify differences, but even then there are probably more precise differences than they actually list. catalogue has more detail, but there hasn't been one for a while; updates are on the website. The catalogue also lists BCS and some personalised sheets. Not sure whether Graham goes into the fullest detail of different (rounded or square) perforation types on reprints of some of the most used (definitive, for example) stamps.


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