/ Money

Are you paying the right price for your mail?

Selection of different stamps

Royal Mail’s making a right royal mess of its pricing system. Many of us are paying too much or too little to send our mail, forcing people to cough up at the other end.

Sending a letter seems pretty complicated to me since Royal Mail introduced its pricing in proportion system four years ago.

Even a visit to their website doesn’t really clear my confusion. First class letters have no maximum weight limit; second class has a weight limit of 1000g. So far, so good. But prices are from 41p for first class and 32p for second class, all based on weight and thickness of item. Now you’ve lost me.

There’s no obvious information about how weight and thickness applies to price. Ok, in the post office you can use those handy letter box card thingies to see if your letter’s too thick. But really, how many of us are organised enough to have one of those to hand every time we stick a stamp on a letter?

Not many, if the 66% increase in Royal Mail’s revenue from underpaid mail (from 06/07 to 08/09) is anything to go by. And now our research shows that three in ten people are charged when they receive their mail because their kind friends at the other end didn’t cover the postage costs properly.

We also found that one in ten people add extra stamps to a letter, just in case. That sounds familiar. Gah – come on Royal Mail, sort your stamps system out so simpletons like me can worry about bigger things.


I don’t know about “organised” – But the tariff is clear enough – and if you send post regularly – it makes sense to read the useful leaflets the Post Office sent us in the post.

A standard kitchen weighing machine is accurate to a gram or so – rulers are easy to come by.

Exactly where is the difficulty??

Michael Bates says:
31 August 2010

The difficulty, it seems to me as someone who has had to visit a collection centre twice recently and pay additional postage is that the tariffs are not obvious, transparent or indeed sensible to anyone who doesn’t have a scales, ruler or a list of the appropriate tariffs posted on their kitchen wall.

We received a greetings card in the post, one relatively small part of the envelope exceeded the 5 ml depth; we then had to pay the extra 10p…and the £1.00 handling charge…..not amused.

James Harrison says:
2 September 2010

After a quick check of their website, just to make sure, I just became more infuriated at the lack of relevant information. Lots of approximation and no ‘This costs that – exactly’ lines. Imagine a grocer telling you that a potato cost more because it has a slighty deeper hue than another one, or its shape is too round!?

I received a note to call and collect mail with insufficient postage. I rang the collection office and explained with mobility problems I couldn’t get there without getting a taxis. They told me they would send it again the next day but I would have to pay the excess and a £1.When they brought it the envelope was longer than the regular size but not broader, and was a birthday card from my nephew.
Because of this it arrived a day late, and cost me over a pound to receive it. Anyone looking at it could tell it was a card that had a first class stamp on it. I would not have thought it needed more
and it was being delivered at the same time as a few more cards. In the past postmen were known for caring for elderly people, now its how much money the Post Office can make. Mavis Simpson

Uncle Bill says:
3 September 2010

Come on Hannah. Each Post Office will give you their leaflet “Pricing made easy”. Get one when you buy your stamps, and all will be revealed.

Malcolm Murray says:
3 September 2010

My problem is with the card that arrives at my house telling me that an item with incorrect postage has not been delivered, so I will have to pay for it without knowing what the item is. I then have to visit the sorting office which is miles away from me and which closes mid afternoon. So the problem is not just the additional postage, it is also the cost and inconvenience of collecting the item! I have collected and paid for many items that would not justify either the journey or the cost, including a number of advertising letters. The fact that the Post Office revenue has increased enormously due to this change clearly indicates that the system is far too complicated.

I can’t be bothered to work out the size limits so just buy ‘large’ stamps and put one of those on everything (unless it is a parcel in which case I iobviously take it to a post office and get the correct postage)