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60p first-class stamps!? Royal Mail can set its own prices

Royal Mail is now free to set its own first-class stamp prices. The regulator Ofcom says this action is needed to save Royal Mail’s universal service, but does this have your seal of approval?

We’ll soon find out what Royal Mail’s new freedom will mean in practice. From 30 April the price of a first-class stamp will rise from 46p to 60p. That’s quite a jump, and a record annual rise.

The price of a second-class stamp will also go up, from 36p to 50p. Ofcom has set a cap for second-class stamps at 55p – meaning Royal Mail has packaged it a little bit lower. Plus, this limit could rise with inflation every year.

Sending a large letter will cost 90p (instead of 75p) to post first-class, and 69p (rather than 58p) to send second-class. Parcels and everything else will also go up in price.

Higher prices to save Royal Mail

So, with relaxed controls come higher prices. Moya Greene, Royal Mail chief exec, has said this is needed to protect Royal Mail’s countrywide service:

‘No-one likes to raise prices in the current economic climate but, regretfully, we have no option. Royal Mail provides one of the highest quality postal services in Europe for among the lowest prices.’

There’s no getting away from the fact that people are sending less mail, but the fear is that higher prices will further add to this trend. Ofcom says the average household only spends about the price of chocolate bar (50p) on post per week. And even though Royal Mail delivered 16 billion letters last year, it’s still a loss-making business (£120m lost in 2010-11).

Your Royal Mail views

On Twitter, Dan ‏(@danthegooner) told us he doesn’t think the service is up to scratch:

‘Different postman every day if/when they turn up and numerous “lost” parcels. Never send via Royal Mail if I can. Rather use a courier.’

However, Craig (@craigpberry) thinks the new prices are worth it:

‘60p is hardly expensive! This is a sensible move. Buy cheaper birthday cards if 14p is going to break the bank.’

Almost three quarters of those who voted in our Which? Convo poll said they were against Royal Mail being given the freedom to set its own prices. Commenter Jon Large explained why:

‘I don’t think they should until there’s easier access for the general public to competitors services.’

And Peter Millard thought higher prices would results in fewer people posting letters:

‘Surely, putting up the price of a shrinking service is only going to make the demand for the service even less? Does there not need to be a reduction in prices in order to attract customers?’

As for me, I do still enjoying receiving mail (as long as it’s not junk or bills) but I have had my fair share of bad Royal Mail experiences. The latest was being asked to pay £1.12 for a letter that had been underpaid by the sender – I coughed up the money and the letter arrived ripped in half inside an ‘apology’ bag. I’d have preferred if Royal Mail had left it at the depot.

Still, that’s one case in hundreds of perfectly and promptly delivered post – and maybe it’s worth paying Royal Mail 60p to deliver them?


If I thought paying 60p would give me a 1st class service then I guess I’d accept it. But as Royal Mail don’t seem to care about the quality of service even 10p is too much. I’m constantly getting my post folded ( and that’s even after getting a larger letterbox – at my expense). Its even more annoying when the mail is from the Royal Mail and marked Do not Bend. Just no care shown at the coal face. I did try and get an epetition going to strip Royal Mail of the Royal, but alas it got rejected. And if you try and complain about the poor service you just get fobbed off with the same old nonsense again and again and again.

I do not have this problem. Either have a word with whoever delivers your mail (and show them something that has been damaged by bending) or make a complaint.

bobkat55 says:
28 March 2012

WILLIAM if a postie is folding your mail get in touch with your local delivery office, ask to speak to the manager,if at all possible take the folded letters to him.. we have a lo of casual workers, working for us who dont care.stop moaning on here go and see your local manager

I’ve complained over a dozen times, and all the delivery manager could say is I understand the pressures the postman are under. I think the only thing that would make them improve is to make compensation more than a book of stamps. And if I have the cheek to complain about packages being left on the doorstep you get the there are a lot of local delivery companies operating in the area, Yet he can’t explain why they would be delivering packages franked with a Royal Mail mark. Its a shame I can’t post photos here and you see what I have to put up with.

Oh and I wont mention I got someone else’s post today either. My parents had 4 or five letters delivered to an address several miles from them, each letter has a post code. Sorry, I’m sure their are a lot of good postal workers, I just don;t see any round here. My dream job used to be delivering Adam Crozier’s mail so he could see what some of us have to cope with, but alas he’s done a runner.

We all notice when they get it wrong, what about praise when they get it right.

If you post is damaged by the postman, send Royal mail a bill, no answer then go down the recovery route and threaten them with a claim in the small claims court.

OK – here goes with some praise. The only complaint I have had with Royal Mail was when I was asked to pay a surcharge for a letter that they claimed did not have sufficient postage. This was an error and I received a polite letter of apology, together with a book of First Class stamps.

I could complain about various other carriers for various reasons but that would be even more off-topic.

John says:
29 March 2012

The sooner the Royal Mail becomes a private company the better!

They should pay ME 60p a letter. Flippant though this comment may sound, I’ve recently copied to my MP a letter about my post being continually folded despite inumerable phone complaints direct to the manager(s) at my local sorting office. When I do get to see my main postie face to face, for example when I need to sign for something, and I ask him how is, he tells me! And it’s never positive. “I’m busy”; “tired”; “Not happy”. I’m very serious. This attitude is a disgrace, and were it not for a lack of time (I certainly have the inclination and I’d be willing to start a petition), I would campaign the public to boycott the Royal Mail as far as possible (in favour of other couriers, personal delivery for non-urgent items where the opportunity would foreseeably arise, and email), so that their net gain falls. Then in some of their management’s longer waking hours, it might dawn on them that if they really want to make more money, and importantly enjoy better morale, then by cutting prices and taking pride in what they do, everyone would be more satisfied. As for me, I have nothing but contempt for them. Dreadful organisation.

Royal Mail is quite superfluous in this digital age
by and large…. even routine legal/business documents can be signed and
returned by fax OR email, only the LAST copy of any documentation
sent out or emailed over bearing yr signature need be returned unless
in the very rare cases of sight of yr original signature being required in which
case recourse then to slo-mail or personal delivery.

You need, of course, both a printer and a scanner for this

Hmm. When I have used a solicitor it has been a case of using Royal Mail or signing documents at their office.

In the past week I have bought vacuum cleaner bags and a fire extinguisher online, because I could not get what I was looking for in local shops. These were delivered promptly by Royal Mail.

I don’t use eBay much but Royal Mail seems to be a vary common carrier.

John says:
28 March 2012

The Post office infastructure is worth Billions of pounds, what with shop premises, trains, vans, planes and other land it has buildings on.

? Will the British tax payer see that sort of money, when ( not if ) it is privatised. ? I doubt it
? When it is privatised should it then have the Royal taken away? Only if it looses the Royal Warrent. But I think it should.
? When it is privatised will it be sold to a British company? I doubt it, nobody in the UK has that sort of money anymore.

Would the Royal Post Office recover with investment, possibly.
Business is the profitable side for the Royal PO, not letters from home.

bobkat55 says:
28 March 2012

you think we will be privatised, the governent take 50% of what we earn an average 300millon pounds, you think they will give this up.if privatised wages will go down good posties will leave and i can assure you , you will get a poor service then

There have been many suggestions, on Which? Conversation?, that electricity supply and other services should nationalised. That’s great theory but perhaps Royal Mail’s prices demonstrate that nationalised industries do not always give good value for money, even if there are some benefits.

I am very happy with Royal Mail, apart from their prices.

bobkat55 says:
28 March 2012

i work for royal mail, its about time you paid for the excellant service you get..A lot of mail you recieve is NOT handled by royal mail but delivered by us.it is handled by tnt,dhl, etc ect these companies only pay a fraction of what joe public pay thanks to our govt,,over the years the regulator has stopped royal mail competting on a fair playing ground, and we have been going into decline.well hopefully now we can get back to were we belong, being the best at what we do.anyone who wants to moan, get up at 5am and go on delivery i,ll give you 2 weeks before you say i,m not doing that AGAIN.. A HAPPY POSTIE

I’ll happily pay 60p for a stamp provided that it we get a guarantee that it will arrive when they say it will

bobkat55 says:
28 March 2012

Dean, all delivery offices work on a clear mail policy that being 1st class 2nd class and mail sort ( junk mail ) we the posties try and succeed on applying this everyday, ok we may get it wrong on rare occasions, but does not everybody get something wrong now and then.the postman takes an average of 5/6 mail bags out everyday, that could be 1500/1600 items in each bag and yes he gets them to the right addresses

It depends on your office.

In Bedford, it works really well, in Rugby it does not. One of my friends is a postie at the Rugby office, maybe that’s the problem there 🙂

£1 for a first class stamp. 50p for second class. I believe that is fair and appropriate.
I don’t like it but I am willing to pay that to keep Royal mail alive.

If we were told the truth about why consecutive Govts’ are killing these cherished national institutions imagine the outcry.

Under EEC law the Royal mail is considered a Govt’ monopoly and that is not allowed. The various attempts at privatisation over the past years is the Govts’ [all sides] sneaky scheme to comply with this EEC directive behind our backs. Royal mail was an excellent service, fast efficient with a better than 95% on time delivery rate, and cheap to boot.
Until we joined the EEC, and just like all of our wonderful British institutions our European brethren either hate or are jealous of, they systematically went about destroying it by giving our weak politicians directive after directive [which no other EEC members pay any attention to].
As the British appetite for appeasement is legendary, the EEC now sits back and wait for the Brits to destroy their own country, yesterday the Post office was dismantled, today the Royal Mail is being forced out of business, tomorrow renewed attacks will resume on the city of London.

Check out how the French Govt handled its Gvot owned energy company, EDF to get around EEC rules governing Govt owned monopolies.
Would our Govt do the same?

Sobering, and saddening.

Can’t believe this is an EEC requirement, every other European nationstate, inside and outside the EC, manages to run a government post office with some kind of universal service. It takes the British, with the government’s lack of interest in ordinary people outside the south-east, to screw it up (as for privatised water, electricity, gas, railways, buses etc, and multinational oil companies who’ve been allowed to hive off UK fuel refining and fuel distribution).

That is how they get away with it, because we just cannot believe it is happening.
Time and time again the unthinkable is done, and when we realise just what has taken place…too late.

bobkat55 says:
28 March 2012

here,s a thought, write a letter to a friend put it in an envelope and delivery it yourself (not in walking distance)did you pay more bus fare, did you pay more for petrol, did you pay more for the taxi, of course you did.. 60p is still not expensive for a stamp. i rest my case,,,,,,,

ciliega says:
28 March 2012

The service I get from Royal Mail in my area is great – regular postman, reliable deliveries.
Having lived abroad I now appreciate it all the more. They generally make an effort to deliver letters, even if the address isn’t 100% correct.
They certainly don’t do that in Germany plus it’s much more expensive and they charge extra for every different envelope size (just consider all the different greeting card sizes we have here). Parcels are also very good value here.
In the US and Spain you need to use insured or recorded delivery as so much “disappears”.

There’s no need to increase the cost by 14p. The could make that saving simply by picking up all the rubber bands that they drop on my driveway!

bobkat55 says:
29 March 2012

if you pick up the bands think of the money you could make

. . . and pick up enough of them and you could make an automatic transmission engine to power a new van for them! Is it an urban myth, or are DAFs powered by rubber bands?

Gerard Phelan says:
28 March 2012

The 5pm collection on Wed 21 March from the pillarbox down my road includes my application for some Unit Trusts, posted using a First Class stamp.
The Noon delivery on Friday 23rd returns the receipt, showing units purchased, sent by the fund manager. It was only Epsom to Chelmsford and back, but it works for me!

Other postal services are not so bad either….
The same 5pm collection on Wed 21 March includes an order for 25 CDs, sent in a classless Freepost envelope. Sometime during the morning of Saturday 24th the large box containing them is deposited by Royal Mail in the usual hiding place near my front door. It was only Epsom to Bungay (Suffolk) and back, but it works for me!

Royal mail is destroyed by too many objection, price cap on stamps and interference by Govt and postal watchdog. All this past mistake costing us now. It is strange that we all are ready to pay a cup of coffee, crisp more than pound in many places, but when royal mail increase stamp prices for few penny, it gives us wrong impression. They have to survive in this difficult economic condition. Royal is still cheaper. Try private company, they will charge on premium rate. When Govt will sale this Royal mail, we will see huge increase in stamp prices. What is wrong with our govt? They sale everything from Rail, energy, telecommunication etc to bring competition. This is not competition, it is green lights for them to increase massive price rise. Keep ROYAL MAIL under Government.

Jez says:
30 March 2012

I’m shocked by the new increases, all the 1st class and packet price increases are huge. Standard parcels are also a silly price, starting from £5.30 (for up to 2kg) when you consider that it’s a 3-5 day, untracked service with no signature. The couriers are going to get a lot more business from me.

Complaints in this old conversation from increases in 2011: if only they knew what was about to hit them this year.

Small businesses like mine took a hit when the PO box went to £200 last year (for box number and delivery), This year it’s £276. There must be an alternative, which I will research.

Tony says:
30 March 2012

They’ve lost my business for Standard Parcels. I already use Collect+ for parcels over 2kg and now they will get the parcels over 1kg as well. You get a fully tracked service for £4.99 and delivery normally takes 2 to 3 days if you drop the parcel off before the courier arrives.

This is what Royal Mail needs to compete with especially as Royal Mail doesn’t have to charge VAT on parcels. Why can’t they introduce a cheap trackable service to match Collect+? They’ve got the collection and delivery infrastructure in place. If Collect+ (i.e. Yodel) can offer this service and make a profit, what’s stopping Royal Mail?

Ian says:
30 March 2012

60p is a perfectly reasonable price to pay for getting a document from A to B in 24 hours or less. In fact, it’s a bargain. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

The fuss is about the fact they THEMSELVES used to do it much BETTER for much LESS. I remember Esther Rantzen on the That’s Life TV programme back in the 1970s telling us how individual posties would bend over backwards to get illegibly addressed items under treacherous weather conditions to the right recipient in time. I (we) used to feel they really cared. What does a bit – or even a lot – of good will and care cost? Nothing.

Roger says:
30 March 2012

the remedy is so simple –

if everyone only used 2nd class stamps, within 2 days all mail would arrive the next day of posting

In justification, it is has been asserted that 60p is cheaper than elsewhere in Europe. Perhaps. but I understand postage is in the capital of capitalism, the USA, is only 45 cents.

Alan says:
30 March 2012

What a cheek, putting up prices. My mail first class always arrives in the afternoon,
sometimes taking 2 days to get here. They should improve the service, before putting up prices.

Di norwood says:
30 March 2012

My sister in law posted a b/card 2nd class mind you & posted it 4 days before my b/day guess what received it 2 days AFTER my birthday. I will be not sending as many christmas cards from now on as i will not be paying 50p per card. Also I will be hand delivering b/cards now as much as possible or not sending as many to some friends I do not see on a regular basis. If I do send them cards they will be e cards. Post service is awful in this country, not reliable, don’t care, as previous persons do not bend means do not bend …… The increase has nothing to do with investing into the company it will be getting their pensions back up on top you watch. I have also had to stop sending my son in Australia pressies due to the very high cost in sending them to him, very sad.

David says:
30 March 2012

I started life as a postman/telegram boy back at the end of the 60’s, and yes I did have to get up at 5am – and the first delivery had to be out, even to country districts by 10am or there would be a major investigation by the inspector. I now rarely get the first class mail before twelve noon and quite often around 1.30pm. Some days it is not delivered at all – when I queried this I was told “someone is off sick today and we do not cover the round”! Because of the late delivery, I mostly have to collect parcels from the local sorting office, joining a long queue. I was dismayed to see several elderly ladies bemused at having to pay a £1-12 surcharge because someone had sent them a slightly (and I mean slightly) oversized mother’s day card. I don’t think there is a serious objection to paying the 60p price hike, provided an improvement to service goes with it.

Arthur Dowty says:
30 March 2012

Regarding the complaints of mail (on which premium postage has been paid for larger-sized envelopes) arriving folded – the reason for this is that the majority of Royal Mail posting boxe slots are of inadequate size to accept an “A4” size envelope unfolded. So, although we, the customers, may have paid to have larger letter boxes fitted to our doors, Royal Mail simply can not be bothered, just as they can not be bothered to slip the “Next Collection” information in to the slot provided on their letter boxes. My local letter box even advertises a Sunday collection, even though these were discontinued long before this particular box was installed! No wonder I describe Royal Mail as being in “terminal decline”. They should be stripped of the title “Royal”, and the sooner they are privatised the better!