Sunday, 26 June 2011

Does size matter?

I have an ongoing dispute with the Post Office about the sale of commemorative postage stamps at local Post Offices. One aspect of this dispute is their apparent lack of interest in selling them - to the extent that some offices no longer keep a stock of the current issue. The Post Office response to my claim is that many offices do not have the storage capacity to retain them. Really! with smaller sheet sizes and quantities produced, a six month supply could be facilitated in a box less than half a metre square.
Recently a friend sent me a postcard of what is claimed to be the smallest Post Office in the USA which is located at Ochopee in Florida (in the "everglades", 100km south of Naples). Although little more than the size of the average garden shed, it has a thriving philatelic business providing a service to locals and stamp collectors around the world.
Ochopee Post Office, Florida 33943 U.S.A.

I wrote and sent a stamped envelope to the postmaster at Opochee, asking for an example of the postmark. It was returned in little over a week, duly postmarked and with a souvenir cachet. Amazing what a little imagination and committment can do!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

It doesn't add up

It's my birthday today (hip, hip hooray!) and I have received the usual number of cards through the letterbox... thanks very much! According to figures recently released, the UK "daily postbag" has fallen from 80 million items five years ago to 62 million today - a decline of 20% - and a significant part in Royal Mail's excuse for a £120 million loss in the past financial year. Yet this doesn't seem to fit in with my experience as I receive more (non philatelic) mail today than I have ever done. Admittedly much of this is junk mail, but in volume it has increased over the years in which the Royal mail claim a fall.
The other element of their excuse is that the increased use of emails and texting, which allegedly accounts for 50% of personal messaging, has meant that the average person in the UK spends just £18 per year on postage. It would appear to me that the increase of online shopping and auction bidding has created a whole new market for the Royal Mail in delivering online purchases and undermines these figures.
Lilly wonders if she should revert to sending texts as she no longer
gets any replies to her letters
Strange also how Sweden, the worlds most advanced country in the use of information and communications technology, can have a postal service that produces an increase of 157 million euro profits in 2010, up 28% over the previous year.
Despite making £180 million profit in the previous year and a £39 million operating profit over the current year, the announced losses are being used by Royal Mail to justify redundancies. Perhaps they should examine their business planning and management deficiencies before they do.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Royal Mail recruit budgerigar squad!

Having announced losses of £120 million, the Royal Mail are preparing to meet the challenge of further staffing reductions and industrial action by the recruitment of cut -price temporary workers. Purchased from Australia Post on the "cheep", the birds have settled into their new aviary and have commenced initial training.
Budgie Bill get to grips with his induction training

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said that they are very pleased with the initial responses from their trials, but are considering changes to the Pricing in Proportion (PiP) structure as many of the birds have difficulty with carrying larger packets and greetings cards.
Budgerigar team leader Bill Bird stated "...most of the group have acclimatised well to the cooler climate in the UK and we have already formed a cricket team with the intention challenging the Royal Mail's carrier pigeon squad..."

Thursday, 16 June 2011

A perfect combination

As passionate as I am about stamp collecting, I do have other interests. Like the enigmatic Inspector Morse, I enjoy a pint of beer - but real beer, not the chemical enhanced brew that is commonplace nowadays.
An idea struck me! Why can't the two interests be combined?
My local pub, The White House at Daisy Bank has a posting box built into the wall, so why not go the extra mile and start selling stamps and stationery (and maybe the odd philatelic souvenir) across the bar? So cool!
The place has lots of tables which is ideal for writing correspondence and filling in forms and what could be more stimulating to original thought than a couple of pints of best bitter?
One might say that stamps and liquids don't ideally go together, but the Royal Mail have already solved this problem with the self adhesive stamp - a useful application of modern technology.
Income could be raised from selling advertising on drip mats. If these were produced as collectable postcards (I have some good examples in my own collection) then we are already onto a winner.

Philatelic greetings on a beer drip mat!

I have put my ideas down on paper and dashed off a letter to the marketing manager of a local brewery. Surely this will be giving it their earnest attention? I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Statement of Intent

I purchased some of the Thomas the Tank Engine stamps from my local post office yesterday afternoon. "I think this will be a very popular issue" said the counter clerk enthusiastically as I placed my order.
I couldn't help notice that only two stamps had been removed from the oddly arranged sheets of 24 despite five hours of trading.  Maybe her enthusiasm would have been shared with a wider audience had there been some indication in the office that the stamps were on sale.
At home I examined the purchase and began to prepare my covers and cards. The local evening newspaper arrives and I take a break and return to the real world.
Front page headlines..." Letters slump leads to £120 million loss..JOBS AXE AT STRUGGLING ROYAL MAIL". This follows yesterday's "135 Post Offices to close". I depressingly return to the stamps.
The news plays on my mind. Mail volumes down by 20% over 5 years..further reductions of 5% a year predicted...texting accounts for 50% of all personal messaging... How does philately fit into the restructured future?

   The fat controller tells Toby that Royal Mail has reported a £120 million loss over the year

This calls for action! Something must be done!

I make a three part pledge:
  1. I will call on everyone I know to encourage them to send more mail.
  2. I will seek innovative ways to promote the hobby of philately.
  3. I will canvas and harrass public authorities to make sure they meet their obligation in providing an effective public mail service.
Let's go!