Royal Mail Revenue Protection and cancelled labels

By Chris Dawson August 5, 2019 - 3:40 pm

Royal Mail Revenue Protection are the people who try to stamp out postage label fraud. There are two main types we’ve seen used by sellers over the years – printing a label twice and sticking it on two different packages and printing a label, cancelling it and then using it anyway.

There are other types of fraud of course, such as under-declaring the weight of individual items or mail bags and fudging the number of items sent via PPI, but it’s the label printing that Royal Mail appear to have taken recent steps to address.

Printing a label twice for two different packages has been somewhat eliminated by the use of Royal Mail 2D barcodes. Royal Mail will be all too aware if the same label is in their network twice and this will quickly become apparent then they scan the label at the point of delivery.

Cancelled labels are more tricky to catch, but if you cancel a label today you’ll get a message warning you that the information will be automatically shared with Royal Mail Revenue Protection. If the label be used and identified within the Royal Mail Network, you’ll be charged for it on your account plus get hit with an additional handling fee (which will probably be around a tenner – more than you probably would have paid for the label in the first place).

“Please be aware labels generated on orders which are then reset are no longer valid and must be destroyed. If you wish to despatch this order, please generate a new label and attach it to your item.

Cancelled label information is automatically shared with Royal Mail Revenue Protection, and should a cancelled label be identified on an item in the Royal Mail Network, you will be charged on your account and an additional handling fee applied.”
– Royal Mail Cancelled Label Flow

One might speculate that there are some sellers who cancel a proportion of labels and use them on a regular basis. One might even think that this is a commonplace practice for some groups of sellers. Be warned however, if Royal Mail Revenue Protection start adding hundreds of handling fees to your account it will have been a lot cheaper just to pay for your postage like everyone else.

  • 1 year ago

    I wonder why it is more tricky to catch a cancelled 2d barcode label, after all their system knows which barcode has been cancelled so it could store it for say 90 days and then if it is scanned throughout their network it would find it on the cancelled items database and trigger a notification.

  • jim
    1 year ago

    this is a little like every one doing more than 70mph on the m25 will be prosecuted,
    or everone who fails to declare total income for tax,

  • jim
    1 year ago

    they need to stamp [pun intended] this out at source its their out of date inefficient systems that
    allow the dishonest

  • jim
    1 year ago

    for instance
    if you use clip and drop with an account

    the label fails to show weight or size, paid for
    though personal click and drop labels show the weight and size clearly

  • ifellow
    1 year ago

    Why does Royal mail still have PPI?, not sure why people are still using it ?. The 2d bar codes are a God send.

    • 1 year ago

      PPI – or Postage Paid impressions (rather than Payment Protection Insurance) are used on letters as well as packets. No barcodes on ordinary letters and much bigger discounts.

      Many direct mailers are now using so-called ‘Digital stamps’ – ordinary postage stamps printed onto the envelopes and printed cancellation. (Condition 9 access.)

    • Toby
      1 year ago

      The reason why some of us still use ppi is because the printing of individual labels just doesn’t fit our processes.
      We print off all orders first… some times hundreds. Then they are sorted into ‘areas of product’, this can be anything between half a dozen and 20 different stacks, depending on the days orders. As this is done they are highlighted for rm 24 or quantities of more thatn one etc, as well as if going by courier – courier orders are put in a separate pile as done first due to time cut off.
      Now that we have these areas, each one is taken in turn and the orders further split down into individual products to save us going back and forth in the warehouse. this saves huge amounts of time, especially when you stock over 1200 different lines. Once this is done the orders are colllected, bought back for packing, address labelled and correct ppi label. Then placed in dump bins next to the packing area… rm 48 / 24 and also large letter and parcel are split.
      We also get alot that are multi orders, either on the same order or where the customer buys several itesm individually. These may have been say a rm48 parcel on their own, but once combined it needs to go rm24 or even via courier. These all have to be dealt with while passing through the system.
      The ability to just put on the correct postage label as you go without hunting for it from a print off of hundreds is a godsend. Not to mention that what the system, throws it out as is, not always how it gets sent! So to also have to go back cancel labels and rebook is a nightmare.
      A friendly competitor of ours who deals in very large volumes also has the same issues… but being a large company can throw extra staff at it.
      We did try the barcode thinng…. it added hours and lots of hassle to the day. To be honest it was quickly clear that we simply couldn’t do it and would need to employ an extra person just to make it workable, and even then it would still slow us down and require more space to be allocated to sorting.
      Now if RM could come up with a scanning gun that scans our address labels and prints off a label from it (the gun), well that would be great. I know these thing exist, but i also know just how much they cost!
      So for us…. the extra few pence is worth it. Even Royal mail have come and seen us and agreed it simply isn’t workable here.

      On a different note…. When are RM going to get to grips with the large amount of mail that never arrives at the destination or arrive over a week late. Monday postings seems to be a special issue! All our items have return addresses on too. I’m not even going to start on the lack of calling cards being left!

    • ifellow
      1 year ago


      ‘On a different note…. When are RM going to get to grips with the large amount of mail that never arrives at the destination or arrive over a week late. Monday postings seems to be a special issue! ‘

      We used to get 1 in 10 item not arrived.

      Since going 2d i don’t even get 1. People even bother to go next door when I say tracking is backed up via GPS coordinates and proof of delivery is accepted by eBay..

  • 1 year ago

    This warning starting coming up ages ago on click and drop, whenever you need to re-apply postage.

    It’s a bit insulting and patronising, when all you’re doing is correcting a mistake. I probably do it a couple of times a week. When you’re in the zone, churning out RM48 labels, it’s easy to do it again when you should have selected RM24.

    But if you remember babz media, then you know why they have to do it. It’d just be better if they could do it in a less accusatory way.

  • Julia
    1 year ago

    I don’t do this fraud but I am a victim of lost parcels put through click and drop scanned and not scanned. Property staff and vet the system before targeting the customer as there are better couriers out there.

    • Alison
      1 year ago

      I have worked for Royal mail for 29 years many of my colleagues have worked for royal mail for far longer. I find your comments insulting and wholly unjust. We work six days a week what ever the weather. We handle billions of items every year and do a far better job than any other delivery company period. Items that go missing or are not delivered is usually because of customers poor labeling please don’t make sweeping statements which just are not true

  • Revenue protection is also concerned with misuse of stamps and use of forged stamps.

    A significant number of eBay sellers are using stamps, especially 1st class Large, which have not been bought from Royal Mail, post offices, or other retailers. Many of them are bought on eBay as ‘discount postage’. See

    If RP spot them (they don’t always as they are very convincing forgeries) then it is the eBay BUYER who is surcharged. Sellers get away with it, although they may not know that what they are using on their packets are forgeries because just buying at less than face value is not in itself a crime.

  • Mark
    1 year ago

    Some of the problems are the buyer.
    We recently sent out an item wrongly to a customer so we apologised profusely and sent them a fully tracked returns label to get it back. When it arrived we sent them the correct item with some free items.
    But the item did not fit so they asked to return and said we must send them a returns label as the ebay system was telling them they had to pay for the return. After explaining they vanished for a few days.
    But then they took the original returns label we had emailed and printed it again and stuck it to the parcel. But their post office refused it as their system said it was null.

    Great but no they took it to another post office and again were told it was null so they finally put it in the post box with no receipt and when it arrived back here we were billed for the label and a penalty charge. I rang our account manger who explained all the issue as of course we could not see any of this and there was nothing we could do.

    The only saving grace was the buyer had no proof of posting and we never refunded the item to them (serves them right Karma!!!) luckily that meant we were not out of pocket but a low cost item we would have lost out.

  • Andy T
    1 year ago

    “The only saving grace was the buyer had no proof of posting and we never refunded the item to them (serves them right Karma!!!) luckily that meant we were not out of pocket but a low cost item we would have lost out.”

    Karma has a habit of comming back and biting you on the arse

  • Bob
    1 year ago

    The real thing they should be looking into is bulk sellers abusing pricing in proportion… Some large scale sellers are sending items that are sized as Packets as Large Letters – Quite a profit in sending a £2.82 packet as a £0.87 – £1.82 large letter… Times say 100 a day? that’s someone’s minimum wage for the day…

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