Tuesday 9 August 2022

Misinformation over the swap scheme in national and provincial newspapers and websites.

Royal Mail is starting its campaign to publicise the end of stamps as we know them and urging people to use them up by introducing a new slogan postmark. 

Unfortunately this has been accompanied by a press coverage* which has been reflected around the country in misleading headlines and images in the country's regional newspapers and their websites:

Misleading words and images from the regional press!

Use up your
non-barcoded stamps
by 31 January 2023
Or swap them out for
new barcoded ones


Barcoded stamps slogan, Lancashire and South Lakes (Preston) 08/08/2022

* I understand that this is not the result of a Royal Mail Press Release but is part of the six-month countdown from website Money Saving Expert (MSE).  And this demonstrates that sloppy writing, and sloppy interpretation, can mislead the reader whether it is in print or online.   This is the start of the MSE article (click on the link above for the whole thing).



Basically there is nothing actually incorrect in what the writer has written, the article shows examples of definitives which will no longer be valid - 1st 2nd and a couple of 2019 valued - and those which will - some special and Christmas stamps.  

It's what is not written: there are no illustrations of the barcoded stamps (the new ones still have the Queen's profile on) and the 1st and 2nd are not the only ones to be invalidated as the illustrations show.

Consequently we get the article such as that in the Manchester Evening News which headlines "Queen's head to be replaced":

Stamps with the Queens Head will soon disappear from letters as a new barcode system is set to be brought in to replace them.

From January 31, 2023, you won't be able to use the current style of stamps that feature an image of The Queen 's head. Instead, only the new style stamps complete with their new barcodes will be valid,

The Western Telegraph (where all the links go to The Bury Times) writer headlines:

Royal Mail first and second class stamps to be scrapped in changes

Thousands of Royal Mail stamps are set to be unusable withing months as a new system is introduced, with some left set to be thousands out of pocket.

Brits have been warned that their ‘1st’ and 2nd’ class stamps will be unusable from January 2023 as Royal Mail begin rolling out a new barcode system to replace the traditional stamp system.

Royal Mail will introduce new "reinvented" stamps after a successful trial of the new designs. 

A special barcode will be added to the side of the stamp but the Queen's head will still remain a main part of the stamp.

In this case, the writer (probably for The Bury Times), has a totally false headline. 

Even the nationals don't help.  The Daily Express has "The new system will not include the use of current stamps, meaning anyone with of 1st or 2nd class stashes has just months to use them. Current postage stamps will become invalid after the new system is launched on January 31, 2023."

And includes a video from Royal Mail "Royal Mail explains how to use barcode artwork generator".  Sadly this is nothing to do with the stamps, but is for business account users who print the Unsorted Barcode Generator.  Any Express reader who watches this will think that they have to set up a Royal Mail account, in order to print barcodes so that they can post a letter!

I understand that Royal Mail are now in the process of trying to contact the news desks to obtain correction - not an easy task especially for media groups and syndicated articles.

Readers of this blog, and other collectors, know the truth - or should do by now.  So if any of your friends or relatives repeats the incorrect information that they have read online or in their newspapers, do your best to disabuse them.  After all, just because it's on the internet, it doesn't make it true.


  1. I sent all my 'old' stamps in to be swapped, and received replacements within a couple of days. By last week I'd run out of 1st class stamps and went into a post office (ie PO counter at the back of a convenience shop) and asked for 24 first class stamps - and was given non-barcoded ones. I asked if he had barcoded ones and he shrugged and said 'these are all we have'. So it's hardly worth bothering to swap yet as you may have to do it again.

    1. I'd say - If you are using them regularly - then use up any "old" stock first and buy as you go. No need to swap now - just obtain a form early and have it ready to send in after Christmas. If you've got more in stock than you can possibly use - swap the excess now to avoid the last minute rush as the general public catches on.

  2. Does the postmark slogan need to say "swap out" wouldn't simply "swap" have done?