a brief but pointless rant against the system

Just returned from this week's traumatic trip to the Post Office.

There seems to always be a tussle between me and some of the staff about stamps and such. As soon as the cost of postage reaches a certain level, they use a label instead of stamps. Even though the Royal Mail churns out dozens of expensive new stamps, month after month, the post offices never use them, so I have to watch as my poor attempts at a decorative envelope is thoroughly disfigured.

Some do try their best to fit the labels in whilst others don't bother, and I am a great believer in the idea that the randomness of the postal system is part of the creative process, but, even so, it is hard to watch.  I can only apologise in advance to the unsuspecting people who will, in a few days time, receive less than perfect envelopes.

Come the revolution, and I am put in charge of the system, things will be very different I can tell you . . .

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Comment by Richard Canard on August 30, 2019 at 7:58pm

Prediction (& predilection):  The more things change at the Post Office, the less mail artists (in particular--but may "God Bless them for trying" anyway) will be able to do about it.

Comment by Heide Monster on August 30, 2019 at 7:06pm

Mary Ann

After the revolution, when you are in charge, can I be your sycophant? please!?  I'm a really good yes- man, and will support your revamp of mail totally!!!  Unless you are only taking over the UK, at which time I guess I'd have to move to Canada.

As much as i like to complain about mail here in the USA, I've actually had good service at the post office.  They prefer stickers too, and aren't much on stamps, but I buy stamps ( oh so many!) on line, and use my kitchen scale for the weight calculations.

Comment by Mary Anne on August 30, 2019 at 10:38am

Jeremy, you are sounding more optimistic by the minute - we both are!  The internet as therapy!

When I had a post office with staff that knew me, I had a trick that worked.  I used to put a couple of low-value stamps on the envelope and hand it over with a perplexed 'I think this may need topping up?'  that nearly always worked but occasionally they would still add a label instead of more stamps. However this new post office is still a mystery to me; lots of part time staff whose shift pattern I have not come to grips with.  Perhaps it is just the unfamiliarity that is the difficulty - on both sides?

Comment by Mail Art Martha on August 30, 2019 at 7:56am

Hobby? Hobby!!!! To  me Mail Art is a life line, a raison d'etre (it has got an accent somewhere) it is what makes me get up from bed in the morning. Do not give up Jeremy. Keep up the good fight!

I have no problems to get just stamps. I buy several sheets together. My post office has been moved from its dedicated building which has been sold even if still it says Post Office carved on its concrete wall. It is now housed in a shop and the staff do not know anything about anything; the old staff is all gone. 

I am making my own envelopes with the pages of magazines. Those that are sent by post have very thin paper. obviously. I am not satisfyied with postcards since I like to send several items together. I manage to keep the lot under 10 gr. Same price as a postcard. Still at 1.35 pounds it costs a lot.

I think they are pushing us towards electronic post. It will be the end of Mail a|rt as we know it, but never the end of Mail Art.

I notice you are too in the United Kingdom, Mary Ann, which soon may not be United anymore, and you are right, there are far more important things to worry about. Don't get me started on that.

Comment by Jeremy Ng on August 30, 2019 at 3:41am

Thanks for your thoughts Mary Anne and Nancy. I think there are other ways around this.....I could just use prepaid envelopes and alter prepaid postcards from the Post Office. They are cheaper than buying a stamp and envelopes.

No, Marry Anne. Your moans are legitimate. I was wondering if you could buy stamps through the Royal Mail online store? Then, you don't have to deal with the Post Office.

Comment by Nancy Bell Scott on August 30, 2019 at 3:12am

$5? Jeremy, is that a death knell for the postal system in Australia? May many from away send you mail art with 0 expectation/pressure (which I believe in anyway, as imagination + unpredictability of mail art are its essence). 

Comment by Mary Anne on August 30, 2019 at 2:16am

What's that Jeremy lad - hobby?  I've just re-connected after a serious illness and I find, somewhat to my surprise, that all this posting nonsense to and fro is far more than that; it is an essential.  But I share your fears that we are coming to the end of something that was magical and just when civilisation needs it the most.

I take it all back, I should't have moaned.  All the postal workers are darlings and they can put their labels wherever they want just don't let it all end . . .

Comment by Jeremy Ng on August 30, 2019 at 1:46am

International postage costs are going up later this year in Australia. I believe that a postcard or a letter is going to cost.........$5 to Europe and the US! 

Not sure how long I can afford this hobby.......

Comment by Mary Anne on August 29, 2019 at 11:06pm

Which is good enough at a pinch but ignores the important (to me) idea of allowing the postal system its part in the creative process.  I used to be able to ask for stamps not label but that post office, with its tame and well trained staff has gone and I am coping with the only one left.  Some of the staff are ok but others not really bothered.  Why should they be?  I think the reason may be because labels are cheaper for the post office (each its own business here in U K) than stamps which they have to but in advance and keep stock of.  For a while the general post office had weighing machines that worked out the price.  I was then able to add my own stamps.  That office has now closed too.  Weighing things myself and stamping them runs the risk of mistakes and, as I said, removes the random acts.  I miss the days of real stamps, postmarks that had place names on them, and even those funny hands that pointed the way for the postman to 'return to sender'.

Anyway, its just me in a petty griping mood.  there are far more worry some things in life . . .

Comment by Mail Art Martha on August 29, 2019 at 9:40pm

I also go and just buy stamps in bulk and weigh the letters and attach the stamps at home. I got some good but perfectly normal kitchen scales. Having said that, I am at a permanent war with the Postal Sevices. Ha! Services! Since the rats in government sold our Royal Mail ( yes, and still they call themselves Royal, the cheek!) prices keep going up and Post offices are getting closed, public mail boxes are going too. This is in the UK by the way.

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