Friday, 30 November 2018

Charities warned against selling kiloware; may be aiding postal fraud

The United Kingdon's Charity Commission has warned charities of the dangers of selling kiloware in this stark warning on it's media website.
News story - 30 November 2018
Alert for charities - fundraising and postal stamp fraud

This alert provides information and advice to charity trustees, employees and volunteers about stamp fraud and the risks associated with it.

Stamp fraud involves the preparation, distribution and sale of previously used stamps for reuse. Usually these stamps are sold online, at a lower price than the standard postal service rate.

Anyone knowingly collecting, preparing, distributing, reusing or selling used stamps to avoid paying full postal fees may be committing a form of fraud.

How it can impact charities

A number of charities collect used stamps as a means of fundraising.

Although we do not believe that charities are knowingly profiting from the collection and sale of used stamps, some are inadvertently enabling this form of fraud by selling packages of used stamps, commonly referred to as ‘kiloware’.

The majority of these stamps are then prepared and fraudulently re-sold as if they were valid postage. The money being made by criminal gangs from this type of fraud is significant, and can be used to fund further and wider scale criminal activity.

Fundraisers may believe they are selling stamps to collectors but this is rarely the case as these stamps have little collectable value.

Charities should avoid engaging in this activity unless they are certain that the stamps collected and sold are genuinely being bought by collectors, and are not being used for fraudulent purposes.

Warning signs to look out for

Signs that a potential buyer of used stamps may not be a genuine collector include:

Requests to bulk buy
Be wary of requests from individuals to purchase UK or GB ‘kiloware’ from you in bulk. Genuine collectors tend to have their own sources of used stamps and often trade with each other – it is unlikely that they would specifically call on charities to provide loose stamps.

Requests for certain types of stamps

There is no reason for any genuine dealer to request previously used, uncancelled stamps, ‘Non Value Indicator’ stamps (do not display a price), or Christmas stamps in bulk. An uncancelled stamp is one which has been through the postal system, but hasn’t been marked as used. It is often incorrectly referred to as unfranked.

Offering to deal stamps on your behalf
Some stamp collectors may genuinely request foreign or specialist stamps but charities should consider a company or person offering to deal stamps on their behalf as a potential red flag.

All of the above examples put your organisation at risk of being unwittingly involved in a form of fraud that is potentially funding wider scale criminal activity.

How to protect your charity from stamp fraud
Decline requests from individuals or groups who wish to purchase used GB stamps from you directly - either through direct contact or via your online marketplace. Additionally, let Royal Mail know if you suspect that a request may not be from a genuine dealer.

If you are satisfied that your stamps are destined for collectors, check the type of stamps you are collecting. Foreign stamps are less likely to be fraudulently sold in the UK.

Consider checking that your charity name is not being used in ‘kiloware’ advertising without your permission.

If you buy stamps for your charity’s own use then buy them from the Post Office or any other reputable seller. Stamps are typically not sold at a discounted price.

How to report fraud

To report suspected stamp fraud, and for more information on the subject, please visit the Royal Mail website.

If your charity becomes a victim of insider fraud, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or by visiting the Action Fraud website.

Charities affected by fraud should also report it to the Charity Commission as a serious incident, using the dedicated email address rsi@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk

Serious incident reporting helps us to assess the volume and impact of incidents within charities, and to understand the risks facing the sector as a whole. Where appropriate, we can also provide timely advice and guidance.
How many misleading or downright false statements can you see there?   I count 7 or 8.

Whilst it is true that a great many people have benefitted from buying kiloware and removing the uncancelled stamps for reuse this was never the original intention and it would not happen at all if postal authorities cancelled the stamps as they were used!

Thursday, 29 November 2018

New updated version of Machin checklist now available

We are pleased to say that a new revised and - as far as we know - fully updated version of our Machin Security Stamps Checklist is now available.

This includes all the stamps newly available on 4 December, and all the variants of Walsall counter sheet printings that we know about.  We're sorry that there has been no updated since September despite quite a number of new stamps appearing.

The latest version is no longer hosted on our own server: with the coming of GDPR we have no reason to capture the email address of all the people who have requested the list.  This edition, version 2.0.15, is hosted on Dropbox here.

You may see various versions of Dropbox depending on whether you are using desktop, laptop, or mobile devices.   If you already have a Dropbox account you may be asked to log in: this is probably because cookies on your computer recognise your previous visits.  You should still be able to see and save the file without logging in.

If you don't have a Dropbox account you can see the pdf file online.  Depending on your operating system and browser settings you may be able to download the file to your computer.  If there is no obvious way to do this, try a right-click, and you should see a pop-up which allows you to 'Save file as'.  Click on this and you should be able to decide where and under what name to save the file.

If you are using a mobile device and already have the Dropbox app installed, then clicking on the link will almost certainly open the app.  How you proceed will depend again on operating system.  On the iOs systems, the familiar 'Export' icon should appear which will allow you to save the file in the Books app, which I find very useful.

NB: If you normally use a bookmark to our site to download the file, please note that this will only take you to the old versions.  The newest editions are ONLY on Dropbox.

If you find that you cannot download the file, please email me and I will send a copy as an email attachment, but I do not expect that there will be many problems.

UPDATE: Due to the omission of one important stamp from the list, a new version of the checklist, 2.0.16 has just been uploaded.  Note this does not have the version number in the file name, and future files will retain the same name to avoid overloading the folder.
Please remember, we usually only include new printings if the stamp is different.  The second printings of this year's new tariff stamps were the same as the first so are not mentioned.


Wednesday, 28 November 2018

New definitives now available to order.

The counter sheet definitives and those from the Harry Potter prestige stamp book to be issued next week have now been listed on our shop, together with the latest reprints to be received.  Note that no orders for the new stamps will be posted until next week as they are not issued until 4 December.
UPDATE 29 November: thank you for the 27 orders received so far; the weekend will be taken up with domestic matters, so it is possible that even those that are not waiting for anything may not be posted by Tuesday next.
UPDATE 1 December:   due to the large number of orders received, some items are showing as out of stock.  This is happening faster than I can check whether more can be made available, eg singles from date blocks or booklets.   If there are other stamps that you would like added, please put the details in 'Additional Information' and do NOT pay, especially by PayPal.  If they are available and we can supply them, we will provide you with the total to be paid by your usual means (PayPal, cheque, card, bank transfer.)  Thanks.
 

These include:
2913.8b  -  2nd class Large - 3rd printing 29/10/18 - dull blue phosphor
3010.8a  -  10p second printing 08/05/18 - blue phosphor and yellow fluorescence
3020.8a  -  20p second printing 08/05/18 - blue phosphor and yellow fluorescence
3101.8a  -  £1 second printing 09/05/18 - blue phosphor and yellow fluorescence

2992.8  -  1st Large Signed For - new stamp.
(Note the 1st Signed For will not be issued until 2019)

Business sheets have also been restocked.

Also listed is an impressive phosphor variety on the second printing of the 2nd class Large.  The phosphor has been dragged across the stamp, as shown in these pictures.  This is listed as 2913.8av and we have only one cylinder block.




Warning - separate Walsall printings with care!

Since the printing of counter sheet stamps switched from De La Rue to ISP Walsall, there has been a marked change in some of the backing paper used, and the effect of the die-cut perforations.

I believe the backing paper used by Walsall may be thinner - certainly than that used five years ago by De La Rue.  The die-cutting may be deeper, or it may be the same.  But the effect is to make separation of the stamps on some sheets quite difficult, as this picture shows:


I bought this sheet of 10p stamps and immediately noticed that one stamp was coming clear of the sheet, because the die-cuts around the perforations had gone right through the backing paper. (I've put a piece of booklet cover through the gap.)

As I couldn't sell the date block with this fault, I started to split the sheet to store in the stockbook and - even though I had double folded the sheet along the rouletting - it separated down the perforations as shown at the right.  I'll use these for postage, as they can't be sold either.

The first sheet I noticed this on was the 100g Special Delivery, which is an expensive sheet to mess up!  Fortunately I was able to use some of the unsaleable stamps on international tracked orders, so those customers had a bonus of a my using a brand new high value stamp on their postage.

So the word is, take care!


Friday, 23 November 2018

First Day Covers 4 December 2018

Following the news below about the postponement of the 1st Signed For definitive Walsall reprint, we are now offering first day covers listed.  Nobody who responded to the previous offering wanted all 8 (or 7) stamps on one cover, so we've changed the offer.


1.  Four Harry Potter PSB definitives on Harry Potter FDC with appropriate HP postmark - £5.00

2.  Three counter sheet stamps, SD100, SD500, and 1st Large Signed For on definitive FDC with Windsor postmark - £23.75

3.  1st Large Signed For ONLY on definitive FDC with Windsor postmark - £4.50

Postage extra; can be combined with orders for mint stamps etc from our shop.

I'll contact the customers who have already ordered by early next week.

If anybody else would like any of these FDCs please email ian[at]Norphil.co.uk by before 28 November.  Thanks.




News surprises from Royal Mail

Before our latest break I provided some details here about the Harry Potter PSB, new counter
sheet definitives and resulting FDCs.  Information received today has changed all that, but at least the confusion is over!

Collectors who have non-visible changes on standing order from Royal Mail will have received their direct debit advance information covering the PSB, the two Special Delivery stamps, and the two Signed For stamps.  Those who have tried to place advance orders with Royal Mail for the four counter sheets have been told that there is no stock code for the 1st class RSF stamp.  Dealers who have ordered (or who have standing orders for) the counter sheet stamps have already been supplied with three, but not the 1st class RSF.   I asked about this yesterday and was told that this stamp had not yet been received in Tallents House.

Today we have the following information from Royal Mail:
The proposed release of the Recorded & Signed For 1st Class (DS155WL) has now been postponed and it will be issued at a later date in 2019.
The remaining 3 stamps due for release next month will still be issued as planned with the First Day of Availability of 4th December 2018.
I'll reassess the First Day Cover options and prices in the light of this and publish new information next week.  For those who have already written, I'll contact you direct.


Christmas News
I'm sorry that the work involved with all the new Machin reprints has prevented me from adding information about the Christmas (and Harry Potter and Prince Charles) stamps so far.  You will recall that last year there was a children's design competition for 1st and 2nd class (and Large) stamps, and these were issued, literally, alongside the religious (Madonna and Child) stamps.

The counter sheets contained 25 religious above 25 competition, and the normal booklets contained 6 of each, although books of 12 religious stamps were also produced but were not widely available.  We expected those to be the religious alternatives this year, but no announcement was made by Royal Mail.   Indeed when I asked about the religious alternative I was told that Madonna stamps would be available but may not be generally distributed to post office branches.  That was a matter for PO Ltd.

So I was surprised to receive this pair from a contact in Glasgow, with the comment that "only a few sheets were distributed to branches in Glasgow". I duly asked Royal Mail for details only to be told that this wasn't something that my contact in 'Stamps and Collectables' knew anything about.

Once again, today's news from RM explains:
Earlier this year we appointed ISP / Walsall to print our 2018 Christmas stamps.
Due to a misunderstanding the 2018 reprint of the Madonna & Child Stamps, originally issued in 2017, were printed on a shared sheet with the normal Christmas stamps, in the same way as they were printed in 2017 when the Madonna and Child stamps shared a sheet with the Children’s Design Competition stamps.
These sheets of half Madonna and Child and half Christmas stamps, were circulated to the Post Office network but are now in stock and available from Tallents House.  The sheets concerned are 1st Class code AS4201KFS, 2nd Class code AS4201LFS. No other values are affected.

This also constitutes a change of printer for the 2017 Madonna and Child stamps.
My understanding is that (as last year) orders can be placed for Madonna or Postbox stamps, but not for the centre strip containing a se-tenant pair of designs.  This can only be obtained by buying the whole sheets of 50 from Tallents House, or by finding them unfolded in a post office branch.

It's unfortunate that communications between Royal Mail and their printers, and within Royal Mail, mean that this information was not available before the stamps were issued, and has only surfaced now that a collector has noticed, and a dealer has asked the question.

I've no need to buy Christmas stamps from the PO and even if I had it is more than likely that most branches would have split the sheets of 50 so as to be able to easily sell either religious or secular according to customer requirements.  We may never have known!, so thanks to AM in Glasgow for finding these and alerting me.

UPDATE 18 December: a film on the MyRoyalMail website shows why it is that these stamps are not available in unfolded sheets - the ones at Post Offices are folded at the printers!

UPDATE 6 December: these are now available to buy from our shop.

We still don't know what happened to all those Madonna-only retail booklets that were produced and not distributed to branches last year!

UPDATE:  I've now seen both 1st class sheets.  Both types have cylinders W1, reinforcing the belief that cylinder numbers really don't mean much these days.   At the top right of the sheet the short-code for the split sheet is NVIF MC17 while that on the 2018 Postbox sheet is NVIF CHR18.  The printing date is part of the cylinder as usual - in this case 17/06/18 for the split sheet and 03/07/18 for the 1st class only sheet.




Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Office and shop closure

Our office and shop are now closed.  We will be back in the office on 23rd November, and the shop will be open by the end of the month.  New stock will be available including:

- Definitives from Harry Potter PSB (set of 4)

- Signed For pair of definitives including blocks

- 2nd (May) printing of 10p, 20p and £1 definitives including blocks

- additional stock of business sheets which are currently out of stock on our system

It's possible we may also have the 1st class book of 6 (MSIL) Padlock book printed on SBP1.




2018 Christmas stamps available to direct mailers as PPIs

We've previously mentioned the use of the 2nd class and 2nd class Large Machin design, and the Alice in Wonderland stamps printed on to mailshots as Postage Paid Indicators.

Now RW has sent this picture of this year's mailings from Sainsbury's supermarket which uses the new 2nd class design on their mailshots.


Update: Thanks to RH for this one from the charity Shelter.

 

JE has sent another example of the 2018 design, "The attached example bears the downstream access licence C9 10020 of Citipost Mail, and mailing was from Serious Readers, purveyors of expensive reading lamps. Of course, the 'stamp' does not need to be cancelled, and the pre-printed wavy lines should stop Integrated Mail Processors from applying a cancellation, but in this case the Preston machine sorting this batch of mail did apply a full cancellation - at 00.03am on the day of delivery."

 


I had forgotten that PD had sent this example of the Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter usage on a mailshot from Smyths Toys back in September, the same design as they used last year but in a darker shade.  Both advertise a six-week campaign from mid-November to Christmas. (smythstoys.com)


Update 3 December:  Thanks to TR who has sent this example of the rarely-seen 2nd Large imprinted stamp on a mailshot from Tru Diamond with license 10082 in the Condition 9 access system.


And Barclaycard have a campaign which uses a particularly dark-skied version of the 2nd class Christmas stamp (a bit like outside Norvic towers now!)


UPDATE 3 January:  This one from Cottages.com using C9 license 10031 was waiting for us when we got back after Christmas.  The colour of the stamp is much better than that for Barclaycard:



There will probably be other users of this design at this time of year, so I look forward to seeing what else you find.


More on Ultra-violet lamps for looking at Walsall-printed Machins.

Some startling evidence on different lamps has been provided by one of our readers, and this has been added to the original blog post here.


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Subpostmasters v Post Office Ltd: the trial.


I mentioned the legal Bates v Post Office class action (more correctly known as Group Litigation Order or GLO) last week.  This is the case where former subpostmasters who have been sacked and/or charged and/or jailed for theft, fraud or improper accounting are claiming that the errors revealed by the Horizon computer system and audits were all due to errors within the system, and that there was no fraudulent activity. I hope some of you have had time to read Nick Wallis's reports on www.postofficetrial.com or his twitter feed.  

You don't have to join Twitter to read the live reporting: you can read it here, and if you enjoy courtroom drama and cross examination it is the closest you'll get to hearing it on the radio or tv!

If you don't have time to read it 'live' a summary is reported on the website, where you can also find links to the morning and afternoon twitter feeds in a better format, and there are also links to documents presented in evidence, including the witness statements and some internal Post Office documents including some in which errors within the system were acknowledged.

Even when auditors worked with subpostmasters errors occurred, and were compounded!




This is the first of three trials, and centres around the relationship between subpostmasters and POLtd. Subpostmasters (SPM) are not employees, they are 'contractors', 'agents' or franchisees.  Most of them take over an existing branch.  So far all the witnesses have alleged that they did not see the SPM contract before starting the job: Post Office QCs fight this based on the incredulity principle - it is barely credible that anybody would take on such an undertaking without seeing the contract.  Crucially POL haven't been able to produce any signed contracts from these people.  Given that the contract is 144 pages long, you would think that they would have remembered it, no matter how large the pile of papers passed about.

Another factor is that when the new SPM takes over the branch is still 'live' and serving customers.  You can really only be trained in what happens with these customers' transactions unless there are quite spells when other things can be covered.  It all seems very unsatisfactory, and reminds me of 'sitting with Nellie' which is how office jobs were learned when I left school.

The next trial will cover the Horizon system itself.  The final trial will, I think, take each individual claimant's evidence and determine who is right and who is wrong and what any liability may be.

The judge is being hard on the PO QC when he makes assertions not backed up by the evidence, but equally he is being firm with witnesses who want to make long points rather than answering the specific question.  The latest witness has interrupted the PO QC when he hasn't been allowed to complete his answer.  It has been quite entertaining reading.



Monday, 12 November 2018

Harry Potter Prestige Stamp Book and new Counter Sheets - 4 December 2018

We can now show some of the detail of the stamps in the Harry Potter PSB which will be issued on 4 December 2018.

Of most interest to readers of this blog, I suspect, is the definitive pane.  This contains two 'sets' of four Machin definitives, 1p, 20p, 50p and £1.25.  All have the MPIL and M18L source and year codes, as is to be expected.




Sorry for the slightly wonky pictures, my old microscope' joints are beginning to get loose.

The reverse of the definitive pane has printing which probably shows a floor plan of Hogwarts School of Wizadry. 

 

Panes 1 and 2 have 5 stamps each, a block of four and a single, with pane 1 showing the characters from the set, and pane 2 showing the vehicles and the Triwizard Cup.  They too have printing on the reverse:


Panes 4 and 5 share the stamps which are on the miniature sheet; we don't have these yet but the assumption must be that they will be bound facing each other and that they too will have printing on the reverse.
UPDATE 23rd November: As expected panes 4 and 5 also have printing on the reverse.

 


They do indeed face each other in the booklet. Click on the images to see them enlarged.



What is more surprising is the layout of the booklet which has two front covers, and half the pages inverted in relation to the others.

Pages are:
1. Front cover, inside front cover
2. Stamp pane - the five students
3-5 Narrative pages about the people.
6.  Narrative: Hogwarts Express & Triwizard Cup
7.  Stamp pane - transport and Cup
8.  Narrative, more transport
9.  Narrative, Harry Potter
Inverted:
10. Narrative, Professor Snape
11. Narrative, Prisoner of Azkaban
12. Definitive stamp pane
13. Narrative, Marauder's Map
14. Narrative, The Half-Blood Prince
15-16.  Stamp panes, ex miniature sheet as above.
17. Inside back cover, Back cover.

UPDATE  7 December: A number of make-up errors have been found on this PSB, see this newer post.


The definitives are four new stamps, Norvic numbers 4001.8, 4020.8, 4050.8 and 4125.8.

We will produce first day covers - but see below.

New Counter Sheets
Also on 4 Decmber Royal Mail's philatelic service is distributing to some standing order customers the new Walsall printings of the 100g and 500g Special Delivery stamps (Norvic 2985.8 and 2986.8), and the 1st class and 1st class Large Signed For stamps (2991.8 and 2992.8).  We will be listing the latter in our shop as soon as we have supplies, for distribution after 4 December.  The Special Delivery stamps have been available for some time as they have already been sold in some Post Office branches. 

FIRST DAY COVERS


We are planning to do first day covers for all of these stamps, using Royal Mail's standard definitive  envelope.  As this is the first day of philatelic availability for the special delivery stamps, some customers may want them included, whilst others will only want the stamps that are actually newly available.  Pre-order prices are:

A.  FDC with 4 x Harry Potter PSB definitives and pair of Signed For definitives - price £9.25

B.  FDC as above but plus two Special Delivery definitives - price £28.50

If you would like to order these please email as soon as possible.  Because our office will be closed from 14 - 23 November, emails will not be acknowledged until 24/25th.  Orders must be placed by 25th November to ensure that we obtain enough stamps and covers.   A relevant Harry Potter postmark will be used.

Exceptionally, if you would like the Harry Potter stamps on a Harry Potter cover, and the others (2 or 4) on standard definitive covers please let us know.  Prices will be slightly higher due to higher costs.




Thursday, 8 November 2018

RPSL Anniversary to be marked by January stamp issue?

According to the December issue of Stamp Magazine, a member newsletter from the Royal Philatelic Society of London reports that a miniature sheet will be issued by Royal Mail in January to mark the 150th anniversary of the Society.  The MS is said to feature classic British stamps.

More news when we get it and when Royal Mail allow is to report it.  Meanwhile my fellow-blogger White Knight on Commonwealth Stamps Opinion provides more information straight from the RPSL.




On 14 December Petemk wrote:
Ian:  I received my order advice note (from Royal Mail) for the January issue yesterday, it will be Classic Stamps at a cost of £7.11 This will be issued on 15th January

This works out at 3 each 1st class and  £1.55 airmail rates (+45p handling charge).

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Closure of Post Offices - reasons and problems, and trials.

How many times have we seen headlines in the local press about yet another Post Office branch closure?  In city areas it is bad enough, but at least there is public transport, and POs are closer together.  In rural areas. villages and even market towns have been left without the only way to access postal and public services.  Why does this happen?

There was once a huge network of sub-post offices in the country.  All these offices were run by individuals or families within their own premises, usually a village shop but sometimes a private house.  The sub-postmaster was paid a fixed core tier payment or salary depending on how busy the office was.

1. Branch Closure programme.
But with changes in the way people used Post Offices the network was regarded as too large and costly, and steps were taken to reduce the number of branches, whilst ensuring that nobody was too far from their nearest office.  About 2,500 branches were closed in this programme.
[Where we live there were three branches within 2 miles, and another four offices in Dereham in addition to the Crown Office.]

Following that reduction, which saw many sub-postmasters paid off, Post Office Ltd embarked on the
Network Transformation programme, which was designed to eliminate most salaries by incorporating the post office into another shop.  The shop would benefit from increased (post office) footfall, and the post office would benefit because of people in the shop for other reasons.  The shop owner would receive payment based on a range of postal, financial, and government transactions.  Post Office Ltd would save money by only paying part of the commission received from other organisations (such as Royal Mail) to the sub-postmaster.   This wasn't entirely successful as often none of the shopkeepers, garage owners, or publicans wanted to take on the post office, often supporting their fellow small-businessman instead.  In other cases the sums didn't add up.  At one village near here the consultation meeting was told that the current postal footfall would require the equivalent of 1½ full-time employees.  The prospective postmaster concluded that the income forecast by Post Office Ltd wouldn't cover the cost of those people even on minimum wage.  Now there is a once-weekly outreach service.


2. Retirement
When the subpostmaster retires and closes his shop - whether it is the village general store or just a sub-post office - Post Office Ltd generally try to find a replacement.  But in rural areas this is often the only shop in the village, so there is no alternative.  Services will then sometimes be provided by a Mobile Post Office, or an Outreach service in the village hall, or pub.  The Mobile and Outreach service is provided from the branch in a nearby (or fairly close) village.  In Pembrokeshire there are two Mobiles covering a wide area of the county and Camarthenshire; in Norfolk at least one subpostmaster provides Outreach services using his own vehicle for between 4 and 6 adjacent villages.  This service is at least once a week, but sometimes twice.  But not when the provider is on holiday!

3.  Resignation, withdrawal of premises.
A nearby market town with a population of over 7,000 was left without a post office when the owner of the commercial premises it was located in decided he need the space to expand his own business.  From the end of May to the middle of June there was no service.  Then a temporary outreach service was provided one part day a week from an office 13 miles away.  The owner was required to give such a short notice, that PO Ltd had little opportunity to find a replacement premises, and the now identified replacement may not be open before Christmas.

All these problems reduce the availability of special - and indeed definitive - stamps for local collectors; but that is not really a priority for PO Ltd because they make very little in commission from Royal Mail for the sale of stamps, whether for collectors or for postal use.


And then there is dishonesty and false accounting.
4.  A shop-keeper who was alleged to have fraudulently cashed in a customer's lottery ticket that he claimed was a non-winner, was removed as a sub-postmaster - as well as being jailed after trial, of course.  That makes a lot of sense.

5.  False Accounting.  Sometimes through ineptitude and sometimes through greed or financial problems, subpostmasters have been known to steal from the post office and attempt to cover up the theft in the hope that they can make good the shortfall before anybody notices.  That rarely happens, the culprit owns up, and the outcome is inevitable.

But since the introduction of the Horizon system there have been many False Accounting allegations that have been flatly denied, with subpostmasters claiming faults in the system, and that on their own Post Office Helpline (not the one available to customers) they have been promised that a reversing correction would appear after the end of the cut-off, and that all would be well.  In some reported cases, the problem got worse instead of better.  UK readers may well have seen BBC reports on this, or read about it in the national press or Private Eye magazine.

This has culminated in a legal case which has come to court this week.  You can follow reporting by Nick Walls on this on the Post Office Trial website. (I'll put a link in the column on the right for when this post disappears, as this trial will run for a while.)  Nick is a freelance investigative journalist who has done pieces for and often appears on The One Show, Inside Out (BBC) and ITV News, and presents Caught on Camera (Channel 5). 

Nick has been following the PO Ltd Horizon story since it started, and has recently crowd-funded to ensure that he can faithfully cover and report on this story in a way that no other journalist will. The background to his involvement is here.  (The Horizon story timeline from 2007 is here.)

It's going to be a fascinating period for anybody interested in the postal network, and in justice. So far over £10 million has been spent on legal fees.  The result is impossible to predict, however much sympathy one has with the individuals concerned.


Monday, 5 November 2018

Christmas won't be early for some RM customers

A friend who has a standing order with Royal Mail Tallents House hasn't yet received his Christmas stamps, which should have been delivered on Thursday 1st November.

On phoning the call centre at Doxford* he was told that they (ie Edinburgh) were likely very busy with Harry Potter stamps, but that he ought to get his Christmas stamps by the end of this week.  Just as well the special handstamp centres are overloaded with work, if anybody yet to receive their stamps was going to do first day covers.   Shouldn't you expect to get stamps on the day of issue?

* If you're not exactly sure where this is, it seems to be a business park in the outskirts of Sunderland.  Not, as Google throws up first, a wooded area half way between Bamburgh and Alnwick, in Northumberland.


Embargoes and early releases - Charles 70th MS is the latest

Not so much an embargo breach, but certainly the possibility for early release.

One of our readers sent this picture with the comment below:

ROYAL MAIL HAVE ORDERED 
ME TO REMOVE THIS
PICTURE 
so it is hidden until
they allow it, ie less than 24 hours later



"I saw this [Prince Charles Presentation Pack in a Post Office branch] the other day from a distance but today investigated. I was asked "Do you want any?" I was a bit surprised, and 2 packs were produced.  Only problem was that item not on the system to sell.  No instructions to PO about sale dates.  I was told that as nobody had bought any he was going to send them back to stores on Monday!"  (My emphasis - IB)

Crazy, isn't it.  Royal Mail has no proper philatelic outlets in their retail partners' network, and those retail partners have no idea when - or more particularly when not - to put new stamp issues on sale, and take them off again.


Friday, 2 November 2018

Movember starts new month of slogan postmarks

After a dry-patch as far as slogans are concerned in recent months, November kicks off right away with the men's health campaign, Movember.

The first example is from Sheffield Mail Centre on 01/11/2018.  (See also Nov 23rd update, resumption of this after others.)

STOP MEN DYING
TOO YOUNG
SIGN UP OR 
DONATE AT
MOVEMBER.COM


UPDATE 6 November.
Thanks to MB for sending two examples, one from Medway MC on 2 November is the illustrated version, and one from North West Midlands on 3 November which shows better than the one we received.   The illustrated version has a different slogan:

STOP MEN DYING TOO YOUNG
SIGN UP OR DONATE AT
MOVEMBER.COM

MOVEMBER® FOUNDATION


UPDATE 7 NOVEMBER.  Royal Mail has advertised it's Armistice slogan on social media.  I'll post copies of actual slogans when we get them.


UPDATE 9 November.  We got two different copies of the Armistice slogan today, one from Peterborough Mail Centre 7 November, and one from Chester 8 November.

Lest we forget
11.11.18
#Armistice100


UPDATE 14 November.  Royal Mail has marked the 70th birthday of HRH the Prince of Wales not only with a miniature sheet of 6 stamps but with this slogan.  Hopefully it continued today and collectors could try to get first day covers with this machine slogan.
Update 23 November:  Thanks to JE for news that the slogan was not installed in IMP machines until 14th, the actual birthday, rather than on 12th as planned.  This is why the armistice continued until 13th.   See example from Lancashire & South Lakes MC on 14th, in which the text is laid out over 5 lines instead of 3 on the iLSMs.

Happy 70th Birthday to
HRH The Prince of Wales
14th November 2018

 

 

UPDATE 22 November:  In my absence a number of readers have sent examples of the latest slogan, which marks the circumnavigation of Great Britain by swimmer Ross Edgley (as reported here by Red Bull).  This one seems to be going on, with several dates reported; more extensive than some of RM's slogans this year, and he gets more, apparently, than the POW!
Shown here Edinburgh Mail Centre 16-11-2018 and North & West Yorkshire 20/11/2018. Also reported Peterborough, Manchester & Glasgow 19th, and North West Midlands 15th.

Congratulations
Ross Edgley - 
the first swimmer to
circumnavigate
Great Britain



Nov 23rd: We're told that Movember is now back in use from 21/22 November at Peterborough and Preston at least.

December 1st:  November goes out with the Post Early for Christmas slogan, seen for the first time from Sheffield Mail Centre (and another indistinct) 29 November 2018.  (Thank you to JW who has sent an even less distinct example from Southampton dated 28 November.)

Remember to
Post Early
this Christmas!


Thanks for all the reports this month; this will continue in December with the same slogans, and probably many more.