Monday, 19 October 2015

A Bulletin Blunder?

Recently, I've written two posts that concern, at least partially, the British Philatelic Bulletin. In the first, I noted that the Bulletin has started to accept advertisements. In the second, I noted that the Bulletin had some significant errors in its coverage of the Long To Reign Over Us souvenir sheet.

In the first post, I voiced the hope that the acceptance of advertisements would allow the Bulletin to continue at its same price. I did not notice the fine print in the September issue that indicated my hope was not to be: the domestic subscription increased from £12.95 per year to £18.95 (46%) and worldwide rose from £17.95 to £24.95 (39%). Readers in Europe outside the UK got the worst of the deal - previously they were included at the domestic rate, now they are at the worldwide rate, a jump of ... are you ready ... 93%.

I have always supported the Bulletin in the past, even when it was going through hard times, but I'm not sure the current version is worth this new price. Doing this increase all at once, rather than phased in over a few years, strikes me as a sign of desperation and is perhaps suicidal. We shall see.

I didn't catch the fine print in the recent October issue either, but Royal Mail helped me notice the price increase by including a promotional ad (part of which is shown above) on the inside back cover, where the outside advertisement has been in the prior few issues. There were no outside ads in the October issue. 

In my second post, after describing the errors in the September issue, I said

We'll see what the Bulletin says when it explains the discrepancy next month, assuming they do so.

My assumption was wrong. What they said was ... nothing. Not a word. 

This is, in my opinion, unconscionable. The Bulletin is a publication of Royal Mail and therefore is something of an official record. Uncorrected errors have appeared in the past, of course, but the errors in the September issue were so blatant that they should be corrected for posterity.

I wrote an email to the Bulletin explaining my disappointment at the lack of a correction and suggesting that they include the correction on a separate sheet of paper with the next issue. This sheet can then be placed in copies of the September issue, making sure that no future reader is mislead by the incorrect information.

I wrote about a week ago, and I've not received a reply.

Considering the drastic price increase and the lack of editorial integrity, I'm not sure I will continue my subscription.

One more thing. In the ad pictured above, Royal Mail showed the covers of six of this year's issues, including September. The actual printed copies had incorrect values on the two higher value stamps from the souvenir sheet. I got out my magnifier and sure enough, the stamp images in the ad were corrected! Revisionist history in action.


UPDATE: In the comments, Robert points out that the fine print on page 34 of the October issue still says that readers in Europe are at the £18.95 rate. The ad on page 63 states that readers "outside the UK" are subject to the £24.95 rate. We'll just have to see next month when the Bulletin clarifies this. Oh, wait...


Robert said...

Thanks for pointing out the increase to the Bulletin cost which I hadn't noticed. I see the October issue on p34 mentions UK & Europe at £18.95 so fortunately we (I live in France) are not classed as Rest of the World, yet! However, in view of the number of uncorrected errors in recent issues plus a certain lack of interesting reading, I fear I shall not be renewing my subscription (which I've had since 1968 or thereabouts) when it comes due in January. The recent editorial teams seem to have little of no knowledge or interest in stamps (they could just as easily be writing about farming tools).

GBStamps said...

The ad on page 63 says that the rate for readers "outside the UK" is £24.95. Yet another example of sloppiness.


Brian Morris said...

I have just received my 'Statement of Account' from Tallents House for future issues which also includes the statement for the Philatelic Bulletin for 2016 which is for £12.95 in the UK. Where is the increase?

Ian - Norvic said...

When you get it, you will find that the November Bulletin is full of holes as well: response to letter on Christmas stamps, Star Wars PSB, Star Wars definitive pane PVA or SA, and Star Wars Generic Sheet included in annual list of definitive issues.

I think if they are putting up the price, they should make it more accurate, and timely.