Monday 31 March 2014

389. Post and Go - New Machines And Postal Rate Changes.

One of the 2 new NCR Post And Go machines, Harborne, Birmingham.

  For those who are struggling through the Slough of Despond that is otherwise known as collecting Royal Mail "Post and Go" stamps the challenge grows greater almost by the day. The new NCR machines are being introduced into post offices at quite a rapid rate and a post office about 5 miles from my home introduced the new machines on 27 March 2014. Two machines (pictured above) were introduced at Harborne Post Office and on visiting the post office today I was able to buy stamps from the machines. 
  The stamps on sale were in the Machin Head design and were sold at the following rates:- 2nd class, 2nd class large, 1st class, 1st class large, Europe up to 20g and Worldwide up to 20g. The 2nd class stamps have the MA12 security text and the 1st class designs have MA13. The value inscription is of  course  different In appearance from that which appears on stamps produced by Wincor Nixdorf machines which have been in use up to now in ordinary post offices (see illustration below). Presumably we will find Union Jack stamps and spring flowers stamps also being supplied by these new machines before long. 
  The machines have the facility on them to produce "Collectors' strips" of 6 different values but I was told that they were not being sold in that format in this post office. 

6 values from NCR machine, Harborne Post Office.

Comparison of the Wincor Nixdorf (left) and NCR Post And Go Inscriptions.

  The purpose of the machines remains something of a mystery since a post office assistant has to be available full time to explain to customers how to use the machines which seems to take more time to do than if the postal assistant sat behind a counter and just got on with carrying out the task required by the customer.
  Harborne Post Office itself is quite interesting since it must be one of the most unattractive post offices in Britain. It is typical of the dreary buildings which were constructed across Britain in the 1960's  and is far too small for its purpose and when I visited there was a long line of people queuing to the entrance door to get service at the counters. The new NCR machines occupy a significant area in the corner of the post office and if a couple of customers and the assistant responsible are standing by the machine the queue has to move aside for them. I cannot help but think that money could have been better spent in improving the post office itself rather than installing 2 new "Post And Go" machines and employing an assistant to service them. Still, where there's a Post And Go machine there are stamp collectors buzzing around spending money.

Harborne Post Office, Birmingham.

  On the subject of spending money, new postal rates were introduced by Royal Mail today, 31 March 2014, as detailed in Blog 376. After visiting Harborne Post Office I travelled on into Birmingham city centre to visit the main post office there situated in Pinfold Street where several Wincor Nixdorf "Post And Go" machines are located. I bought a new "Collectors' strip" from one of them and the 6 values are depicted below. This particular machine dispensed Machin Head design stamps with no security date and there are 2 new values included in the strip which take account of the change of postal rates - a rate to Europe up to 60g and Worldwide up to 60g with the previous Worldwide up to 10g and Worldwide up to 40g disappearing from the strip.
 [Addendum - 1 April 2014 - The Norvic Philatelics Blog reports (including input from its readers) that the 2 new postal rates have already been found not only on the Machin Head no date Post And Go stamps as I report above but also on other types of Post And Go's from other post offices - namely 
  Robin MA13
  Spring Flowers
  Union Jack no year code
  River life
  Birds 4th issue
  Robins MA12
This astonishing array therefore adds another 20 stamps to the Post And Go stamp total. I have completely lost track of the grand total of Post And Go stamps that have appeared on the market and I shall certainly not be bothered to try to obtain all of the above at a face value of £3.59p per pair (total face value so far being £35.90p! I shall merely add a note under my new Machin Head Post And Go stamps that these other items were produced in various post offices around the country completely randomly. The Norvic Blog illustrates many of the above items.]
 The cost of the complete 6 value collector strip now totals £7.42p (previously £6.42p) so we note a 15.6% increase in price for this item which is considerably ahead of inflation in Britain:-

The 6 values of the Collectors' strip from the Wincor Nixdorf machine in Pinstone
 Street, Birmingham's main  post office, with 2 new Worldwide rates 

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