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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?

Comments
Guest

hi,
It’s April 2012. I’ve just received an invoice for this year. It’s £220 for a PO BOX.

This is frankly obscene! I’m shocked. Last year it was £170 (up from about £90) this year it’s £220.
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 loosing 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! And what am I paying for? Correspondence is not kept in a physical box – I know this for a fact having been told by a kind RM employee at my local office. I have experienced very bad service over the years, with letters being sent back to senders, my Po Box being canceled despite my payment in due time (this has happened twice!), my letters being sent to my flat address – what a stupid, stupid mistake, that’s why I got a PoBox, so that letters would *not* go to my flat address! Now, the pleasure of RM’s abysmal service will cost me even more…

Shame on you RoyalMail for manifesting greed so well. Have you not thought about people like myself?

Guest

Sounds a bit like exploitation to me. Have you considered using a commercial accommodation address or letter drop agency? – Perhaps they’re even dearer than the Royal Mail.

Guest
alan c says:
12 April 2012

When I last posted on this site on 13 February I was very unhappy about the cost – £170 – of renewing my PO Box rental this time around.

But now I’m livid.

I’ve found out this morning – from someone who has been trying to send me something (something important) – that the Royal Mail has classified my PO Box address as “bad”. You couldn’t make this stuff up. They’ve taken my £170 and then, without bothering to tell me, they have effectively blocked the address. I presume they’ve been sending stuff back to senders where they know the sender’s address, but what about other things that may not have a return address on the envelope?? Do they just bin that??

I said in my first posting that I thought they might be trying to kill off the service altogether, and I’m now even more convinced of that.

Does anyone know if I’d have grounds to take action against them for this – they were quick enough to take the cash, so surely there’s a breach of contract here somewhere?

Guest

Hi alan c,

I checked with one of our lawyers on your point about taking action against them on this.

They responded that you cannot bring a civil claim against the Post Office – The Post Office Act 1969 makes it clear that, although you pay for the service, this does not give rise to a contract with the PO. The Act also states that no-one can bring a claim in tort – therefore, you cannot bring a claim against them in the civil courts for breach of contract or negligence.

So the only option is the formal complaints procedure – http://www.royalmail.com/customer-service/complaints-process.

Guest
Peter Poole says:
12 April 2012

Surry to hear about your problems, Alan – I gave up my PO Box in October & am shocked to see the further £40 increase.

Guest

The continuing rise of PO Box costs does seem a little mad – another £40? £240 up from £62 in 2009? Wow. Have any of you tried to find an independent service?

We have written about the latest stamp price rises, but didn’t mention PO Box.
https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/royal-mail-ofcom-set-stamp-prices-60p-first-class-stamp/

Guest

As many of you have shared your complaints about PO Box prices we have written a new Conversation focused just on this featuring some of your comments. We’d love for you to come and share your views: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/po-box-cost-royal-mail-price-increase/

Guest
Alan C says:
25 April 2012

My thanks to Richard Dilks for that interesting (but perhaps not entirely surprising) info about the Royal mail being bullet-proof when it comes to civil legal actions. I guess they know that themselves, and you’d have to wonder if it’s reflected just a tad in their attitudes. I’ll be looking around for a different service-provider well before my current PO Box contract (oops, must remember that I don’t have one of those) expires.

Incidentally Richard, I’d have replied via a reply button, but your posting doesn’t carry one of those.

Thanks again.

Guest

Hi Alan,

If you hit the reply button in your original comment that will work. We are however going to add a reply button to all comment boxes. Thanks