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Royal Mail customer complains of three-month wait for stamps in swap out scheme

A Royal Mail customer has complained of a three-month wait in being reimbursed for old stamps he sent off to the postal service as part of its “Swap Out” scheme.

Royal Mail is phasing out old “everyday” stamps and rolling out revamped versions featuring barcodes in the scheme, which the business said will provide customers with “exciting new services by connecting physical stamps to the digital world”.

Those who want to take part in the scheme fill in a form and send it back along with the non-barcoded stamps they want reimbursed. First and second-class stamps with a picture of Elizabeth II’s profile without a barcode will not be eligible for use beyond July 31 2023.

But customers say they continue to face long delays in being reimbursed for the stamps. i first reported the issue in December, when angry customers took to social media accusing the postal service of lengthy waiting times for the scheme. Royal Mail denies the delays.

Robert Rudge, from Cheltenham, says he sent
away multiple old stamps as part of the ‘Swap Out’ scheme in October and months on, he has not received the new stamps.

Robert Rudge, 80, from Cheltenham, told i he sent four large second-class stamps and 13 small second-class stamps on 11 October 2022, and has still not received a reimbursement.

Undated handout photo issued by the Royal mail of one of the new stamp which features a special barcode making it possible for people to watch videos, messages and other information. Customers can scan the barcodes in the Royal Mail app and will eventually be able to watch videos, information about services, or even birthday messages and other greetings from senders. Issue date: Tuesday February 1, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Stamps . Photo credit should read: Royal Mail/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
A new first-class stamp with barcode (Photo: PA)

“It wasn’t a huge [number of stamps] but it is annoying that it has taken so long.

“I’m retired and I still can’t really afford to lose what is not really that many stamps as a pensioner.”

He said he sent the form correctly, with his address details intact, and cannot understand why there has been a delay.

“Most people keep stamps in the house for firing off letters, and these are the ones I had left…I have seen online there are other people who are still waiting for theirs.”

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Another customer contacted the postal service on Monday, also reporting delays. He said: “@RoyalMail I sent in some stamps for a swap out on 13 January. Your terms state that they should be processed in 7 days. It’s now 30 Jan and I’m still waiting for new ones?”

Royal Mail states on its website that it will endeavour to reimburse people with new, barcoded stamps within seven days, but that this aim was not a guarantee: “There may be times when due to higher volumes of requests it takes us longer to respond”.

A Royal Mail spokesperson told i: “There are currently no delays.”

BATH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 29: In this photo illustration first and second class postage stamps are displayed on February 29, 2016 in Bath, England. Royal Mail, recently privatised, is set to raise the price of stamps by 1p. The increases that take affect from 29 March, will mean a first class stamp will now cost 64p and a second class stamp will now be 55p. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
These stamps won’t be usable beyond July 31 2023. (Photo: Getty Images)

She said the company could not look into Mr Rudge’s case without his contact details.

Initially, the deadline for using the old stamps was Tuesday, January 31 2023, but that has been extended until July 31 2023 to allow customers more time to use up their old-stamps, the spokesperson said.

In November the company was forced to apologise after 3,000 customers were wrongly told they hadn’t sent back their stamps, with people also reporting that they were reimbursed an inaccurate number of stamps, according to The Guardian.

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