Canada has become the latest nation to enter the do-it-yourself world of postage stamps, with the rollout of new self-serve stamp machines. Described by Canada Post official Anick Losier as a one-year pilot program, Canadians will eventually see 23 kiosks located in cities across the country. The first ones were set up in late December, including: four machines in Vancouver, two at the main post office and the other two at postal outlets on Granville Street and West Broadway; three in Toronto, at Station B, the Adelaide Post office, and the Toronto Dominion Building on Wellington Street; and one in London, Ont. In late January, kiosks went live at Montreal’s Station H, and in revenue post offices in two Jean Coutu pharmacies in Montreal and one in Longueuil.
At first, the kiosks had staff on hand to help customers get accustomed to the new machines. “As you can imagine, Canada Post is constantly looking for innovative ways to provide service to the changing needs of its customers.” Losier said. The kiosks were set up without fanfare or announcement. In fact, Canada Post did not comment on the kiosks officially until a late January announcement on the firm’s Facebook page. Losier said the dispensing machines are manufactured by Wincor Nixdorf, a firm that already supplies dispensers for several European authorities, including France, Britain, and Ireland. Losier said the kiosks dispense stamps in 63-cent (domestic), $1.10 (U.S.), and $1.85 (international) rates. All three rates share the same pre-printed Maple Leaf design and numeric codes and denominations that are printed by the machine.
According to Canada Post, sorting machines are able to distinguish between the different values of stamps. The actual stamps come in nine values including over-size and over-weight rates. Collector Steve Klinck said the nine rates are 63-cent, $1.10, $1.26, $1.34, $1.85, $2.20, $3.05, $3.56, and $3.75. Examination of the stamps using the new document examiner at the Greene Foundation confirms that they have three-side fluorescent tagging, and a different fluorescence on the coding printed in the machine. The machines process credit and debit card payments, but do not accept banknotes or coins. The machine also prints 10-by-15-centimetre parcel labels. Customers place their parcel on the machine for weighing, and can also measure the parcel’s dimensions. Vancouver collector Duff Malkin, who purchased stamps in that city, said it appeared that the machines are set up only for domestic parcel delivery. He said the machines dispense stamps and two receipts for each purchase. The stamps are self-adhesive and come on a brown paper backing.
As Malkin pointed out, the purchase of a single stamp generates three additional pieces of paper. Losier confirmed Canada Post will issue an official first-day cover showing stamps with all three rates. At press time, details on when the cover would be issued, or what rate they would sport, were not available. The rate may be of interest, since the eight machines went into operation before the Jan. 15 rate increase, and as a result issued some stamps bearing the lower, 2012 rate. It is also possible, although not known at this time, that the design on the stamp may change from time to time. Collectors refer to stamps issued by such kiosks as ATM stamps, an abbreviation of the German word Automatenmarken. The manufacturer, Wincor Nixdorf, provides consulting, hardware and services for financial institutions, retailers, and postal authorities worldwide. Based in Westphalia, Germany, but owned by venture capitalists Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Goldman Sachs, it has subsidiaries in more than 41 countries, including Toronto’s Wincor Nixdorf Canada.