Royal Mail target eBay sellers of unfranked stamps

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Obviously keen to win ever more fans in the eBay community after increasing contract rates last week and with further eyewatering price hikes on the way later in the month, Royal Mail has told the BBC that they will prosecute eBay sellers they discover selling unfranked stamps for reuse.

An unfranked stamp is one which has been through the postal system but which hasn’t been marked as used. A cursory search on eBay shows there isn’t any shortage of unfranked stamps for sale.

Royal Mail were alerted to the issue by Radio 4 consumer finance programme Moneybox. Buying and selling unfranked stamps isn’t in itself illegal if they are for collections. Reusing unfranked stamps as new is, however, an offence. You can hear the Moneybox radio article here, commencing at 08m 10s. (This will probably be available for a few weeks but only to UK based listeners.)

Interestingly, Royal Mail did scotch one theory: contrary to rumour, unfranked stamps are not secretly franked using an invisible method. All franking is, according to Royal Mail, visible.

9 Responses

  1. There is of course a device built into the design of stamps. If you look at a stamp there are two pill shapes built into the design. The idea of these is that if you try to remove the stamp from an envelope or parcel these two shapes will tear out of the stamp making it very difficult to re-use(I have also had problems with these shapes when removing the stamp from the backing just before use. They can rip out of the stamp so very easily-leaving the genuine first user the job of trying to stick the shape back into the stamp without it looking like the stamp is being re-used).

    Of course it also makes them less desirable as collectibles because with bits missing from them who is going to want to collect them.

  2. Obviously keen to win ever more fans in the eBay community …’ errrrm no,
    I think that this is right and proper, re-use of a stamp that has already been used always has been illegal. Perhaps RM should be more effective in ‘postmarking’ stamps but that is not the issue.

    What surprises me is that RM have not been more overtly pro-active in the past.

    Used stamps without franking are common and generally of no interest whatsoever to collectors.

    The fact that listings state ‘offered only for collectors’ or similar is simply a red herring. RM, eBay and those listing and buying are all totally aware.

  3. I cannot believe some of the listings ! Several lots of 100 x 1st class stamps at £49.95 and using the phrase ‘why pay more’? What? Currently (until 30 April), 100 x 1st class stamps will cost £46 so why indeed should anyone want to pay more? But foolishly, a lot of people it seems are doing just that. More fool them.

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