Postage stamps

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geo0939 | 14:00 Sat 14th Jan 2006 | Shopping
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Does anyone know if it is legal for shops to sell postage stamps for more than their face value? Question arose when a newsagent was found to be selling 1st class stamps for 32p.


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I myself think it is quite legal for a newsagent to sell stamps at more then their face value.
I would say it illegal and should be reported, and the people who have brought them should have been aware that lst class is 30p I buy books of stamps from a newsagent and was told they get a discount when they buy in bulk.from the post office so already making a profit and know they will sell them with the queues at Post Offices, these shops are often used by people who can't get to a supermarket and pay extra for things anyway and most would possibly be pensioners so seems they need to be reported.
I think it is illegal. (Might be worth asking someone at the Post Office?)
In general, a retailer can charge what he likes for the items that he sells. For example, a can of lemonade might be 'price-marked' at 50p. However, as long as the actual price is made clear to the purchaser prior to purchase, the retailer can charge 20p, �1, �1000 or whatever he feels like at the time.

Similarly, in general, it's illegal for a manufacturer (or wholesaler) to impose conditions upon a retailer stating the price at which their product must be sold. (So, in the above example, the firm which makes the lemonade is not permitted to supply it to the retailer only upon the condition that he sells it for 50p).

So, within the general principles of the law, it would seem that there's nothing to stop the retailer selling first class stamps for 32p. I suspect, however, that specific legislation might come into play here. This is because, when you purchase a stamp you're not really purchasing an item - you're actually paying for a service (i.e. the delivery of your letter). Post Office services are subject to statutory regulation by the Postal Services Commission (Postcomm) and I'm fairly certain that their policy of 'one price - one service' extends to allowing Royal Mail to impose conditions upon retailers barring them from making excess profits from the sale of postage stamps.
Assuming this to be true, it would seem that the newsagent was certainly committing a breach of civil law (i.e. he was breaching his contract with Royal Mail) even if he wasn't committing any criminal offence.


from what i recall when working in a newsagent you cannot sell stamps for anything than other the price decreed.

margin is not great in stamps (less than 10% if memory serves) so can see a slightly dishonest trader attempting to make more margin

Delighted this question has been asked. I recently asked a small shopkeeper why a 12x1st class pack of stamps cost �3.70 and was told, candidly, "that's our profit".

I've today written to the PO/Royal Mail seeking a definitive answer - and will post the reply when (or perhaps better, "if") I receive one.

It could depend on where he's getting his stamps from - if he goes to a post office and buys them at face value I can't see that he's entering into a contract not to resell them at a profit. (That's how my local shop used to get them, though they did it as a service and didn't have a markup.)

What about stamp dealers? Are they selling illegally to collectors when they charge more than face value? (all post decimal stamps are valid for postage - some attract quite high premiums over what they originally cost)

Ok, Here's the answer from the Royal Mail:

".. retailers are not permitted to charge more than the face value of a postage stamp. Retailers are bound by a set of Terms & Conditions when they sell any of our products. We take very seriously any reports of retailers who overcharge for stamps (ie for more than their face value). Customers can complain in writing to:
Denise Sivills
Royal Mail Retail Manager
21 South Gyle Crescent
Edinburgh EH12 9PA"

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