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.