Post Office sees surge in complaints about Royal Mail ‘counterfeit’ stamps

Post Office sees surge in complaints about Royal Mail ‘counterfeit’ stamps

Royal Mail customer Natasha shared how she was impacted by the influx of counterfeit stamps

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 12/04/2024

- 11:37

Updated: 12/04/2024

- 12:04

Royal Mail has slapped dozens of Britons with a “counterfeit” stamp surcharge despite the stamps having been bought from reputable places such as Post Office, a GB News investigation has found

Post Office has seen a rise in complaints about stamps bought at its branches being deemed “counterfeit”, GB News can exclusively reveal.

It comes after a GB News investigation in January revealed innocent Britons are being charged £5 to receive their post due to “counterfeit” stamps, despite senders insisting they bought the stamps from reputable places such as Post Office and stores with Post Office within them.

Data obtained by GB News under a freedom of information request revealed Post Office first became aware of complaints about Royal Mail deeming stamps bought at Post Office “counterfeit” on July 10, 2018.

During 2018, Post Office logged a total of four complaints.

Post Office said its customer contact centre logged 70 complaints in relation to stamps which were bought at Post Office since January 1, 2023 and March 1, 2024 inclusive, which included the words “counterfeit” and “stamps” in the description.

The 70 complaints logged were in relation to first- and second-class standard stamps being deemed “counterfeit” by Royal Mail.

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Post Office and Royal Mail 'counterfeit stamp' sign

Royal Mail admitted deeming the stamp on the left 'counterfeit' despite it being genuine. The sender bought it from a reputable high street shop


GB News has spoken to dozens and dozens of people based all over the UK who have reported a £5 “counterfeit” surcharge being applied to their post, despite the sender buying the stamps from reputable places, including Post Office.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “Over the past 15 months we have recorded 70 complaints concerning counterfeit stamps.

"After explaining the wide range of places that stamps can be purchased and the need for a receipt in order for us to start making enquiries, we have found that many customers have been unable to recall exactly where they purchased a stamp.

"That said, we will always make enquiries as and when a customer shares an itemised receipt along with a high-quality image of the stamp or stamps is sent to us so that this can be looked into further.

"Only then can we undertake enquiries and do our best to resolve the issue for our customers.”

Royal Mail introduced barcoded stamps in February 2022, and non-barcoded stamps are no longer valid for postage.

Last week, GB News revealed Royal Mail had apologised to a member of the public after they incorrectly deemed her genuine stamp “counterfeit” and charged her son £5 for the item.

Catherine Prest said she had a “gut feeling” the first-class stamp, bought from WHSmith, was genuine, so wrote to her MP Sir Paul Beresford about the matter.

The firm said when they had re-checked the stamp, they confirmed it was in fact genuine. They offered a £5 cheque to cover the cost of the surcharge paid and a Presentation Pack of Viking Britain stamps, although Ms Prest says these stamps hadn’t arrived.

In a letter to Ms Prest, Royal Mail’s Senior Public Affairs Manager Michael Hogg, said: “The stamp has been re-checked by our Revenue and Protection team and confirmed to be genuine.

“Royal Mail had therefore been wrong to apply the surcharge and I am very sorry that our actions have failed you on this occasion.”

Mr Hogg assured her the matter had not been “taken lightly”, adding: “Whilst it is rare that items are incorrectly charged, an investigation is now underway by senior colleagues at Royal Mail Revenue to ascertain why this has happened, and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.”

Last week, Royal Mail assured Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake that the firm will work alongside Post Office and other retailers, as well as law enforcement ages, when looking into individual problems with “counterfeit” stamps.

GB News understands Royal Mail did not instigate an investigation into Royal Mail’s processes or supply chain.


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A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Royal Mail takes the illegal production of counterfeit stamps seriously. Since the introduction of barcoded stamps we have been able to significantly reduce stamp fraud through added security features. Every barcode is unique which allows us to identify whether a stamp is genuine or not, and whether they have been previously used.

“We want our customers to buy stamps with confidence. We strongly recommend that customers only purchase stamps from Post Offices and other reputable High Street retailers, and not to buy stamps online – unless from the official Royal Mail shop. Our website provides customers with guidance on how to spot counterfeit or used stamps and we urge customers to report any suspicious stamps to Royal Mail via our website at Report a Stamp Fraud so that we can investigate.

“We are working hard to remove counterfeit stamps from circulation. We regularly monitor to detect suspicious activity, such as sales of heavily discounted stamps and work closely with retailers and law enforcement agencies to identify those who produce counterfeit stamps.

“We have a robust, multistage process in place when assessing whether stamps are genuine. This includes a thorough examination using specialist equipment, then a follow up inspection by a skilled member of the team before any stamp is marked as counterfeit or pre-used.”

A Post Office spokesperson said: “Any allegation that fake stamps have been purchased at a Post Office is extremely serious. The implication of such an allegation is that one of our Postmasters, or a member of their staff, has obtained fake stamps and have chosen to sell them to customers rather than selling legitimate stamps that have come from Royal Mail’s secure printers.

"Post Office receives it stamps from Royal Mail’s secure printers. They are delivered to our warehouse. Individual Post Offices then receive their stamps from the Post Office at the same time as cash is delivered to their branch – both the stamps and cash is transported to branches in our secure vans. Our advice to customers is to always purchase their stamps from a Post Office counter within a branch.”

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