NCR Self-Service Kiosks-Welcome to the 21st Century Post Office
A new NCR “Self Service Kiosk” for Post Offices
During February 2014, Post Office Ltd commenced the replacement of the existing Wincor-Nixdorf “Post & Go” self-service machines with units manufactured by ‘NCR Corporation’ of America.
The NCR kiosks are designed for faster mail processing, an improved ‘customer journey’ and have the capacity to provide additional transactions in subsequent upgrade phases. They also feature an ‘enhanced’ customer /staff interaction system (aka ‘traffic lights’) to ensure the handover of barcoded mail is smoother and a certificate of posting is issued where requested or required.
Collectors will more than likely be familiar with similar looking NCR Self-Service machines from other UK retailers nationwide- for example those found in Tesco and Marks and Spencer.
What’s in the Box?
The NCR Self-Service kiosks are wider than the existing Wincor machines -but they are loaded with a touch screen, scanner , payment “Pin Pad”, postal scales and two stamp printers, plus a receipt printer. Each ‘Stamp’ printer is fitted with a ‘1st Class’ or ‘2nd Class’ media -controlled by a different spindle size for each side to prevent incorrect loading of the stamp media.
The receipt printer produces double sided ‘Horizonesque’ “Certificates of Posting” /payment receipts.
The receipt generated appears to be very thin thermal paper and does not withstand handling very well – for collecting purposes it is recommended that a copy is taken to preserve the information printed.
As with the Wincor-Nixdorf units currently found in Post Offices, for customers posting mail there are two main options-you can choose to either ‘Buy Stamps’ or ‘Post an Item’.
NCR Post & Go ‘NVI Stamps’
Where ‘Buy Stamps’ is selected – the usual options are available- six values of ‘NVI’ stamps printed from the 1st Class reel and two ‘NVI’ values printed from the 2nd Class reel.
These are available in singly, multiples or collectors strip format. Collectors strips are dispensed in strips of six (1st class reel) or two (2nd class reel).
1st Class Reel:- 1st Class, 1st Class Large, Europe 20g, Worldwide 10g, Worldwide 20g, Worldwide 40g
2nd Class Reel:- 2nd Class, 2nd Class Large.
They appear very similar to the Wincor, Hytech and IAR versions, but with minor positioning and font variances.
The ident string also will be familiar to collectors, comprising of the usual information – Branch code, machine number (for technical reasons this will likely be in the 60s) and the session/item number.
No more “White Labels”- Welcome to open value (OV) stamps
White labels are no more! as the NCR kiosks contains only stamp reels – only “Open Value” stamps for each item being posted will be printed by the NCR kiosk.
The NCR kiosk can process 1st and 2nd Class Inland mail including “Signed For” and “Special Delivery” . International airmail and “Signed For” and “Airsure” options are available. In addition Parcelforce Worldwide Inland (24 , 48) and and International Mail can also be accepted.
The relevant information gathered during the transaction is printed onto the Stamp Media.
For customers who choose to ‘Post an Item’ they will prompted to weigh the item, select the destination country and answer a couple of questions on the value and urgency of the item. Once this is completed the service required can be selected from a picklist- this includes barcoded inland and international Royal Mail and Parcelforce services.
Next a “certificate of posting” can be requested (or will be mandatory if the item is barcoded) and address details must be entered via the “touch screen keyboard.”
For inland items , where address details are entered the first four characters of the postcode will be printed on the stamp dispensed – firstly to guide the poster as to which item the stamp is for and second to prevent reuse as a ‘self cancelling’ device- items where this Postcode does not match the address on the item may be surcharged. (Unlike the white labels they are replacing , there is no ‘post by’ date shown on OV stamps)
If an item being posted is barcoded or a ‘Certificate of Posting’ is requested then the “customer host” will be altered via the ‘traffic light’ system so that the transaction can be item being posted can be ‘handed over’ , the transaction paid for, stamps printed and the “Certificate of Posting” issued.
Note- it is not possible to purchase ‘Open Value’ stamps in quantity – they are generated singly for each item being posted. It is also not possible to generate Open Value stamps for ‘make-up’ values- only for actual tariffs.
NCR Post & Go ‘OV Stamps’
NCR Self service units will no longer dispense white ‘Postage Labels’ but instead print “Open Value’ (OV) stamps for all items being posted.
OV stamps will contain the information captured as part of the ‘Post an Item’ transaction such as Weight, Service Indicator and Price Paid.
Items being sent ‘First Class’ or via ‘Airmail’ or via Parcelforce Worldwide will have the OV Stamps printed on First Class media (i.e. with two phosphor bands)- e.g. Machin, Generic (Robin/Union Flag) or Pictorial (e.g Flora).
Inland items being sent second class will have OV Stamps printed on Second Class media (single phosphor band) .
NCR Post & Go ‘OV Stamps’- Decoder