/ Money, Shopping

Are you boxed in to Royal Mail’s PO Box price rises?

Defending Royal Mail is a pretty tough job, especially at the moment. But it’s not just rising stamp prices that have angered many Brits , the ever increasing cost of a PO Box has enraged many too.

Which? Convo editor Patrick Steen wrote about the 80% increase in the cost of a PO Box last year. Back then the price had gone up from £95 to £170.

But now there’s even more to add to the bill, with a PO Box costing £220 from 30 April. That compares to just £62 in 2009!

In short, the price of a PO Box will go up by between 9 and 15% depending on the service, where a basic PO Box service will increase from £170 to £185. That doesn’t sound too bad until you realise that the service will soon be liable to VAT, adding another 20% on top.

You say: stop increasing PO Box prices

We’ve had comments from many of you who run small businesses and use PO Boxes to keep your business and personal correspondence separate. And it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that many of you have been stunned by Royal Mail’s price increases.

Commenter RS reacted by writing:

‘This is frankly obscene! I’m shocked. What am I to do? I run a very small life-style business, a hobby and have printed my PO Box address on all my “products”. I make a pittance each year from this hobby and can’t afford this fee, and yet if I cancel my PO Box I run the risk of losing potential customers, or will no longer receive the very few cheques I get each year.

‘I feel like I have been attacked, mobbed. I do understand that prices need to go up, and usually do go up, but by this much?! This is outrageous!’

Jon shared a similar sentiment:

‘It’s simply monopoly price gouging and everyone should vote with their feet.’

However, Jon Haden had a more tongue-in-cheek approach to the price rise:

‘I’m grateful to Royal Mail for forcing the issue. I ditched my PO box when the price was hiked from £125.75 to £200. That’s a saving £125.75 plus inflation a year. Happy days.’

Royal Mail’s stamping its feet

We all know stamp prices are going up sharply – first-class stamps to 60p from 46p; and second-class stamps to 50p from 36p. Royal Mail says it needs to jack prices up because it has lost £1billion on its ‘core mails’ in the last four years.

And although many of us can stock up on cheaper stamps before 30 April (though be wary of the restricted supply), you can’t do that with a PO Box. You’ll just have to sign up to the higher prices regardless. Maybe that’s just the price we need to pay for Royal Mail to continue offering this service?

Are you affected by Royal Mail’s PO Box price rises? Are you happy to pay more, or will you soon stop using the service altogether?

Lee says:
25 April 2012

Just been hit with the £170 by Direct Debit with no advance notification whatsoever about the price hike. Tried immediately to cancel the service but, brazenly, Royal Mail places among related FAQs on its website: “UNFORTUNATELY, WE CAN’T REFUND YOUR FEES.” Can’t or won’t?

Further to my comment about the outrageous price rise for a Po Box, I have decided that I’m going to cancel this service. A very reluctant decision, but I will not pay over the odds for a service which leaves a lot to be desired. I shall do without a Po Box of any kind and instead will focus on electronic communication with important correspondence and cheques sent directly to my flat.

I have suffered the worst possible service at the hands of my local sorting office (with to official complaints logged and accepted by RM HQ). I’ve had letters returned back to sender (within two weeks of the letter arriving in the PoBox – which is not a ‘box’ but a place on a table or similar), been told that I have not paid for my Po Box and so it was canceled – even though the invoice was always paid for in due time (this happened twice. I have a letter from one RM office informing me about the unpaid fee, yet I have proof that the money had left my bank account). Lastly, letters were forwarded from my PoBox to my flat address. One could think that it’s mighty generous of RM to do it for free, yet I did not sign up for this and the whole point of a PoBox was to keep my letters separate from my home address.

So that’s that. Good riddance, RM.

It’s interesting to see a ‘Disagree’ vote. What? You disagree with my real life experience of Royal Mail’s abysmal service? I can’t help it, that’s what happened, I have solid proof! Perhaps you disagree with my decision to cancel the service? I hope that many more follow suit and so RM will kill this service off as they appear to be hell bent on doing so!

..and what is really infuriating is that, there is no physical ‘box’. Royal Mail does not need to pay for any fancy physical object, no metal boxes, no cabinets, no racks of miniature shelves, letters in my sorting office were just placed on a table or similar – this was confirmed by one of the RM employees. So, what is the extra money going to pay for? A gilded rubber band to keep my letters bunched up?

Jim Gifford says:
1 May 2012

Monopoly? The Royal Mail don’t have a Cluedo!

And, in fact, when it comes to PO Boxes they don’t even have a monopoly. If like many existing Royal Mail customers you’ve simply had enoughof rediculous price hikes, or you’re looking to set up a completely new PO Box simply type ‘PO Box’ into Google and you’ll find a plethora of firms offering similar services – I saw one last week from a company established in 1925!! offering London PO Boxes at 40% cheaper than the Royal Mail – and that was before today’s price hike!

Come on Royal Mail – carry on like this and we’ll soon be hearing The Last Post!

Jon Bell says:
5 May 2012

My bill for the next year has just arrived. £230 + VAT. Like others, I say that’s just too much. My business has had to cut costs over these last few years, and this year’s hike is one too many. I’ve worked out it’s cheaper to pay for labels and labour to have my existing stock of product cartons carry a new address. What with the price increase on stamps, and the increasing cost of sending small parcels, more and more of my business will be going through couriers and the internet.

Sean says:
9 May 2012

@Stampsbytext is coming soon and will mean you can buy a stamp via text – so no queues and available 24 hours a day.

Hopefully this means we can save money as well.

Jon says:
10 May 2012

Like the first post (no pun) above, I run a small non-profit music website – the p o box mail is sent to my home address – If I cancel (which I am) the mail will still come to my address – the only difference is that it doesn’t go literally in a little box on the way…

Have used the PO Box for 12 years but its goodbye Royal Mail for royally taking the p*ss ! good riddance and major savings (30% of my annual budget) …

Looks like it’s government policy to close down the small firms in rural areas and move all the business to large companies in urban areas. Very, very sad – and very, very foolish.

Mark A says:
23 June 2012

I complained when it rose from £62 to £95. There was no interest from Post Office. This morning I received latest bill. It was just unbelievable! Wish I had a business where I felt I could just increase charges as much and as often as I liked.

They can forget it.

Oh and my wife has decided to send as many internet Xmas cards as possible this year.

mail forwarding says:
3 August 2012

When selecting to view the envelope or mail, the image is quickly loaded up into your browser and can be increased in size to aid identification.

A PO box address with delivery has gone up again to £230. (Sep-2012).

Why do they charge more to deliver your parcel than to hold it in a special box, crazy? (Bare in mind that someone has already paid to post the parcel / letter!!!).

They really take the biscuit; and to top it all when I moved a couple of miles up the road they said I had to pay for a new PO box and lose the remaining amount on my old PO BOX. Because it’s the rules!

There must be an alternative to this, currently I’m using my home address which I really don’t want to advertise. But £230+VAT for a small business is too much?

Are they any cheaper alternatives? (I receive about 50-100 parcels a year)?

Jim Gifford says:
18 September 2012

I shopped around and got a far better service at 40% less than the Royal Mail.

I use a company called British Monomarks for my PO Box. They are a Holborn, London WC1 based Mail handling facility that has been in business since 1925. They offer a BM PO Box at 40% less than the Royal Mail and genuinely provide a far superior range of features. You can easily find them online.

I had a brief look into British Monomarks and they are a lot more expensive to forward parcels. It’s £96 plus the standard Royal Mail “over the counter price” (plus a small fee) to forward each parcel. For some reason they don’t even use Royal Mail PPI pricing, they use the most expensive consumer pricing. I think I have 2 options:-
1 – Pay Royal Mail £230 per year
2 – Find a local company willing to forward or hold parcels for a fee less than £230.

Stuart Wood says:
7 January 2013

What is it with Big Businesses that they are seemingly immune to ‘what the customer wants’?

Their infrastructure makes them inflexible and their attitude seemingly reflects their infrastructure. It would make a pleasant change to see a large organisation offering value for money whilst actually caring about the service they deliver.

In 2009 I paid £60 for their annual fee and £60 for delivery (£120 total).

This year they want £230 + VAT (£269 total).

How many other businesses would get away with a 224% increase in prices and survive.

As much as it grieves me, I will be cancelling my PO Box this year.

Mark says:
12 March 2013

FFS! …I’ve just had my PO Box renewal through: £303.60 !!!!!!!! That’s extortionate, considering just a few years ago I was only paying £95 for exactly the same service!!

Is there somewhere (other than the Royal Main) we can complain too? i.e. Office of Fair Trading, etc? …as these continued increases year on year are beyond a joke!!

Jed says:
12 March 2013

Yes, your right. You can complain to the office of fair trading. But to get an investigation they would need several complaints. Who is willing to complain to them about this?

Rex says:
14 March 2013

Every company is out for lots of money there is no such ting as far pricing any more there are now services out that that also change you about the same for a digital service, what is sick, RM after reading this wont even accept post from another provider it has to be RM sent only so yes they get two cuts of the same pie, off the sender and off you, I was looking in to a PO Box so I could get updating on a few legal matters what I just don’t want coming to my home as I live in a shared house, few people here like opening other peoples post without even thinking of checking the name on the letter first, But I can’t as I don’t have that kind of money to even live let alone pay for a post service that is known to mess up anyway.

They charge you so much because they can, fair trade can’t do anything about it as they only make its fair but how status fair price, the company that is giving the service that’s who.

The government wont help as they want a big cut of the money in tax’s more money a service cost more tax they get, nothing will change here unless we make change.

Cazza says:
24 March 2013

Seems like it’s much cheaper in the US to have a PO box or street address – some quote $50 a year – I think UPS is also cheaper in the US.

I found a London based registered office address for £45 pa for a London address and they also have a Mailbox package for forwarding mail. http://www.capital-office.co.uk

Has anyone tried it?

Steve Sinnott says:
23 April 2013

Our local sorting office was merged with two others, since then the service for my p o box has been abysmal, and as others have said the price has gone up out of all proportion to the service given, and in fact my “box” is just that a cardboard box, some of the counter staff are surly & rude and I have zero idea why they are allowed to talk to either the public or business clients, I will be opting out because the price is disgusting and the service is dismal.

I will be using e-mail to send and get contracts rather than waste my hard-earned on a poor service

sheb says:
22 May 2014

Hi Has anyone used BRITISH MONOMARKS for po box and if so what has your experience been? would you recommend it?

Steve says:
1 August 2014

British Monomarks have been fine for me for a year.
I only use them for business mail – all envelopes –
as so far no parcels or ‘signed for’ items have been sent to me.

Jed says:
22 May 2014

Here’s an alternative, unfortunately with Royal Mail.

If you only receive a handful or less parcels a month, it could be much cheaper to set-up a freepost address and your senders don’t have to pay any fee.

Here’s the comparison:
PO BOX + delivery £311 + vat
Freepost standard is £90 per year + the charge to return the item to you.
I calculated that you need to receive less than 91 (7.5 items/month) 1kg items per year to make freepost a cheaper choice. If you’re only receiving letters, it could be a big saving.

If you want to keep your privacy, they allow you to leave off the first line of your address on parcels, but it takes a 1-2 days longer.


sheb says:
24 May 2014

hi jed thanks for that info, have you actually used freepost standard with royal mail? i will be receiving maximum 80 letters a year. no parcels

Jed says:
1 August 2014

Sorry for the delay – Yes I’m using it right now. So far it’s cheaper and my customers don’t pay for returns and I don’t have to refund the return costs! Go onto the RM website and compare the costs. You could save yourself quite a lot.