The Postal Scam

Have you ever had a letter delivered to you by the postman which didn’t have the adequate postage stamp on it? Have you ever paid the bearing charge (fine) for such a letter and said expletives in your mind for the careless sender? Many of us may have encountered such incidents. In most cases we blame the sender instead of suspecting the postal services. But a recent incident led me to strongly believe that there is a huge postage fine (bairang) scam going on in Indian Postal Services.

My sister sent me 3 picture postcards in an envelope from Paris. Firstly it arrived quite late. Then, as seen in the picture, its one side had got wet and the writing had got smudged. Dad had to pay a bearing charge of Rs 10 as apparently there was no stamp affixed on it.

Now, my sister confirmed that she had stuck a pink colored stamp and thats where the pink color in the white envelope has come from. On close inspection, I found the seal of French post office on the place the stamp would have been.

If the envelope had got wet in rain, the smudging would have happened uniformly. But as seen from the pictures, the envelope had been deliberately damped on one side. The beautiful postcards have been spoiled due to this crude removal of stamp. 😦

Further, the accusation is strengthened by these points:-

# In case of a international letter, the country from which its mailed, sends back the letter to the sender address in case of inadequate postage. In this case, my sister should have got the letter back. But apparently due to correct postage the letter reached India.

# In case of a letter sent and received in India, the bearing charge is twice the correct postage. In case of an international letter, Indian Postal Service has no authorization to collect fine.

# Even if the IPS collects the fine, as per rule, it comes out to be 2 Euros or Rs 136 as the correct postage was 1 Euro (which my sister had already affixed). Rs 10 is the fine for an intra-country letter.

Apparently they peel off the stamps in bulk. Thats how they didn’t notice this letter was from France and put the usual Indian charge of Rs 10. All these unscrupulous tactics are being used for carrying out such a fraud. The amount of Rs 10 may seem meager but even if they collect from 20-30 houses from each area in my city with only a population of 500000+; the total amount will reach Rs.6000-8000 per day easily. Thats around 180 USD per day. Imagine the earnings from a metro city like Mumbai or Delhi.

I’ve half a mind to go and confront the Postmaster of my area’s post office but I guess the corruption termite has eaten into the system from bottom to top. Nothing substantial will come out of my protest. Atleast I could make the effort to spread awareness against this illegal practice by blogging about it. There have been many scams in India ranging from fodder to stamp paper. Yet, a new one doesnt cease to shock and expose the scandalous realities of administration and social services in India. This isn’t the sole complaint against Indian Postal Services. There have been cases of lost letters, speed posts not reaching on time, envelopes opened & sealed again and embezzlement of money from depositors under various Saving Schemes at post offices. Not only these, inefficient and careless postal employees are causing monetary losses to the government too by not canceling the affixed stamps properly.

Next time the postman asks you to pay for inadequate stamp, be alert and assert your right as a consumer and citizen.

37 thoughts on “The Postal Scam

  1. This is disgusting! I didn’t know all this happened! Damn! I have used speed post a couple of times before, and luckily, they’ve reached on time without tampering! But this is so ridiculous! 10 bucks fine for an international letter!
    If they have to scam, at least they should do it intelligently! 😀

  2. Yeah, really what needs to be done is if the letter doesnt have the needed postage it should be returned undelivered to the sender. The practice of charging the recipiant encourages this sort of thing. If there was no fine to collect then the temptation to rip off the reciever would evaporate.

    Inadaquate postage>return to sender. End of story. The best scenerio is often the simplest.

    This fine stuff is ridiculous.

  3. This is very intriguing and through this post I discovered a new way the government employees are cheating the public. Corruption has eaten deeply into every single system, including the postal system as you said and I agree that the best way is to blog about it. Why government, even private companies in India don’t care about the consumer! And it will take even longer to fight it out in the courts.

  4. @Nikhil yes it is really a disgrace on Indian services. Its better to use courier than speed post now.

    @Soham Thanks!!!

    @Robert I second your view! why should the recipient pay for the sender’s fault? Its unfair and also due to such activities we blame the innocent sender.

    @Adarsh yes very very bad.

    @Nita In India its like if there is any way to scam, lets do it. Fake cosmetics, fake pens, milk, spices, money, coins what not? yes u r correct. private companies are also consumer unfriendly. Recently a courier guy delivered a cheque in my Dad’s name and address to the neighbour’s house. That too just dropped in their post box!! How did the guy show back in office that it has been duly signed and received? I asked Dad to pursue the matter but he let it go.

  5. Reema:

    I am tempted to tell you about a letter I received this Monday. It has ‘Inland Letter’ inscribed in bold on it, with stamps worth Rs. 6.50, posted from Bombay by a bank to reach me in London. And it reached me 3 days after mailing if the franking mark is anything to go by.

    (I will look for it in my to-shred pile to take photos and upload them).

  6. @Reema – It’s surprising to read this. I have sent a million cards, gifts back home to family & friends, I never had any problems. It reaches them in flat 6 working days. I am still surprised!!

    Also, it would be wrong to generalise The Indian Postal Services throughout the country. Maybe just one part of your state are praticing these evil activities..just maybe!

  7. @Shefaly As they would say in Hindi, Government ko chuna laga rahe hai postal services wale. 😀 😀

    @RJ U have been lucky then. Because similar incidents have happened to my sister when she was in Kanpur, also to a friend in Pune when he sent letter to Kolkata.And I’m sure we will get many incidents all over India. Though they may not be blog readers 🙂

  8. Are you sure that this is indeed a scam? Could the letter have been drenched by mistake/in transport? I’m curious because this doesn’t look like a scam to me.

  9. This was new knowledge, but I am curious to know what your local postmaster will say when confronted with it.

    I will soon make a post on consumer rights and link it, girl! This was new to me. 😦

  10. this is too bad! and to go to the private courier companies is not the solution. I think i agree with robert… inadequate stamp, letter goes back to the sender! simple1 but in INdia i have noticed that the simple things hardly are taken up… make things complicated and reap benefits by the resulting corruption!

  11. This is frustrating.

    I think you should go the post office and confront them, you are right that this might not change the all round corruption but then they will also think twice before doing this to you. I mean why suhd we let them bloat in the happiness that they are able to fool us. They should know that we know.

  12. Well, nothing like this is happened with me yet, but I will like to see the postman try cheating me. or let me rephrase, I would love to see him try… it has been long since I haven’t got a chance to do something **** except yesterdays little incident. I think I will write it now. 😀 Next time, keep a man handy to screw the postman 😛 You got what I mean?

  13. Eeeeksss Cheesssy!!! That’s why our postal service any which ways has a bad reputation around the world. Amazon has banned the postal service of South Africa, I am sure there will be day when this happens to us as well. I feel then really feel bad for all of those, who completely rely on this crappy service and corruption for their important business and personal needs!

  14. @Chaitu As I said in my post, there is no justification of collecting rs 10 fine for no postage as its an international letter. Indian postal services has no right to do that. Moreover the envelope was wet only on the portion the stamp was on. Due to my address written on it I’m unable to post the whole pic on my blog. And as I told RJ this thing has happened to other people too. Its quite possible its a scam.

    @Poonam I dont think I’ll be even heard out. Getting a reply is next to impossible. Thanks!! yes,I knew very few people would be aware so I decided to blog about it. Even if its not a scam like Chaitu thinks there is nothing wrong about being vigilant!!

    @Sakhi yes as I said in my reply to Nita, private couriers are also not 100% efficient and secure. What u said is true. In India we tend to lengthen the procedures and add a lot of red tape & bureaucracy to everything possible.

    @Smita Hmm maybe I would. Atleast to let them know we are onto their malpractices.

  15. @Chakoli Postmen are taking advantage of this emotion only that one cant refuse to accept his/her letter and will pay to get it.

    @Suda Oooohh what happened yday? Well sometimes I think verbal fight is better than a physical one LOL 😀 and trust one who knows me wants to get into verbal fight with me :)Sadly I wasnt at home when the postman came.

    @Deeps Oh I didnt know that. yes its sad for people in rural areas and infact urban too who rely on country’s postal services for money order,admission forms etc.

    @Robert I’ll think about it.

  16. Well I would send you cupcakes or something but Im afraid the postal service would charge you for the delivery!

    Heres an ascii one? :^)

    .-‘; ;`-‘& ; `&.
    & & ; & ; ; \
    \ ; & &_/
    | | | | | | | | |
    J | | | | | | | F

  17. Wah!!? That is insane. How could they do that? That is something really very bad.
    LOL.. I guess from next time we need to take a photo copy of the letter and then post. Cant believe these people.

  18. Reema,
    You should complain to the GPO. We had a post man back home who stole letters and magazines. Dad used to receive many magazines like National Georgraphic, Newsweek, Economist, Time etc from the US. This guy would not deliver them at all.
    Many of these were weekly, so he did not want to carry them all. One reason would be that at our place, the houses are pretty far to each other.

    Anyways what he was doing cannot be tolerated. So my dad complained to the GPO and he was changed. We have not faced any problems with our postmen or women since then.

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