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Are you still happy to absorb Royal Mail’s price rises?

UK stamps

Royal Mail prices are on the rise, with a record 5p added to first-class stamps. Are you willing to pay more to keep the Royal Mail going? And is an 80% increase in renting a PO Box justified?

If you popped down to the Post Office to send a letter today, you may have seen more money leap from your wallet.

It’ll now cost you 46p to send a first-class letter weighing up to 100g. Mailing it second class will cost an extra 4p. As far as larger letters go, you’ll have to spend 9p more to post it first class, or 7p for it to go second class.

I know, a penny here and there doesn’t sound like that much, but this is the single largest increase since first-class postage began in 1968. Still, we aren’t sending as many letters as we used to – mail volume has hit a 15-year low.

Moya Green of Royal Mail even argues that without these price rises, the organisation wouldn’t ‘be able to keep funding our six-days-a-week collection, sorting, transport and delivery operation to the UK’s 28 million homes and businesses.’

Comments support Royal Mail

So are you willing to pay more to pop a letter in the post just to keep Royal Mail afloat?

When we first asked this question, most of you were glad to cough up the extra pennies. ‘I’d be more than happy to pay more for a stamp. It is still a genuine bargain’, shared Steve Kelly.

Stephe, whose husband is a postie, expressed a slightly more radical view, ‘Stick the price of the stamp up if needed, I don’t mind paying extra to stop it being privatised. Just make sure those fat bums at the top do not receive a penny of the extra money!’

And Richard rounded it all off with a call to action, ‘Support the Royal Mail – buy stamps! The company is worth saving.’

PO Box costs 80% more

If these price rises do shock you, you’ll be blown away by the cost of renting a PO Box. Small businesses now have to pay £170 a year for their PO Box, up from £95. That’s an incredible 80% rise, and a bank balance busting 170% increase from two years ago – the service cost just £62.85 in 2009.

Small businesses that operate from home use PO Boxes to keep their business and personal correspondence separate, and the increase is sure to hit them hard. We were alerted to the rise by commenter Matthew last week. He runs his own business as a ‘one man band’:

‘I was staggered when I received this year’s invoice. Whilst I am happy in principle to support the Royal Mail and recognise its value, both in terms of Britain’s cultural landscape, and the services it provides to less “profitable” areas of the country, the above rise is ridiculous.’

Which? Conversation commenter Mike Taylor was also hit by the same £170 invoice and, after 14 years, has decided to cancel the PO Box service.

Royal Mail defended this 80% price rise by arguing that it had been subsidising its PO Box service for years, and now feels the cost is in line with the fees charged by other companies.

Is that defence enough for a 170% price rise in just two years? Can small businesses really afford this kind of expense in the current climate? And, for the rest of us, are we willing to pay more for stamps without necessarily getting an improved postal service?