Royal Mail’s ‘Swap Out’ scheme failed to deliver 500 stamps

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I sent 500 2nd class stamps by special delivery to the Royal Mail Swap Out scheme on 1 November. The value was £340, and I had purchased them for a charity I am involved with. Two weeks later, I received just 11 bar-coded stamps back. A letter stated that stamps to the value of £6.85 to cover the postage were enclosed, but they were not. I have written again, and had no response.
BC, Wargrave, Berkshire

Royal Mail is phasing out traditional stamps and replacing them with ones bearing barcodes. Customers are invited to send in any old-style stamps and receive the equivalent value of barcoded ones before the end of July. The Swap Out scheme might have seemed a good idea in the days when Royal Mail offered mail delivery. As it is, applications have been subsumed in the strike backlog, or bungled by office staff.

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In November, the company was forced to apologise after 3,000 customers were erroneously told they had neglected to enclose their stamps. Many more have complained that they received an inadequate number of stamps in return – or none at all. In your case, those 11 stamps were to cover your postage, according to Royal Mail. It can’t explain why 500 bar-coded stamps were not added to the envelope. It says: “The vast majority of applications for barcoded stamps are processed efficiently, and to the satisfaction of our customers. However, on this occasion we would like to apologise for the delay in processing the application.”

After my involvement, you were called by a customer services operative and assured that your stamps were on their way. Three weeks later, there’s still no sign of them.

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