/ Money

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?

Heath Golding says:
4 April 2011

When it comes to the sending of a simple letter to a friend, It’s still a lot cheaper than delivering it yourself!

considering the logistical issue of transporting it, I think it’s a bargain anyway

Personally, the rise will have little effect. Years ago when I sent letters, paid bills and used the postal service as my main communication sytem with family, friends and companies, the cost of stamps would have been significant. Now I only use the post for greetings cards and the occasional small package, so my yearly bill for stamps is insignificant.

A lot of sellers on eBay use Royal Mail, and often the First Class service. Those who buy and sell on eBay are already doing a lot to support Royal Mail.

I agree with Wavechange – Ebay and Amazon and similar on-line businesses – are supporting Royal Mail. I buy a lot using the RM Postal Service – Superb Service same price all over the country excellent!

It may be of interest to note that several other postal services use Royal Mail to transport items to far flung outposts within the UK to save the cost of transporting the items themselves – called cherry picking really. Without the RM far flung outposts would have no postal service at all. Hardly a indicator of a first world society – particularly as we invented the universal post.

I post over 1900 letters annually at last count and growing – The vast majority of the recipients are not connected to the Internet – so there is no other way . I have to say that 1900 extra 4ps is an extra drain on our charity.but the beneficiaries of our charity are completely dependent on that communication.

Buy Stamps!!

If they’re allowed to increase the price year on year and provide and service that’s getting worse week by week. Then maybe its time the guys at the top just went never to return. They clearly have no idea.

1st class recorded taking 10 days in Guildford. Its a joke.

Only last week I got a letter that was ripped ( the joke there being it was from the royal mail and was marked do not bend) maybe they should add please do no destroy as well.

I think they should also be forced to offer something more than a pack of stamps as compensation.

Snowdin says:
5 April 2011

I think it’s a big rise especially for people living outside cities where internet services can be patchy and slow. In a country village we get our mail after 1pm and up to 3pm every day – no improvement on this with the price rise – and the postmen seem to be using cycles more frequently so the mail is occasionally soaked and ripped by the time it arrives.

Sophie Gilbert says:
6 April 2011

I don’t mind paying more as a private individual, but what about the effect on businesses? I work for a charity and the impact on us will be big. Let’s hope it’s worth it.

Susie70 says:
6 April 2011

Although in this computer age I use the royal mail less and less, I still think it is a bargain and i am happy to pay the increased prices.

johpal says:
6 April 2011

As I understand it, with the exception of Ireland, we still have the cheapest postage in the EU.

As richard states, many carriers use Royal Mail to deliver to distant destinations. Doubtless, Royal Mail are paid for this service, but when you hand over a package to a courier (for which you pay dearly), it is disconcerting to discover the postman will deliver it with the usual mail and not somebody in a logo’d vehicle.

Stevie E says:
6 April 2011

Not only does Recorded Delivery take ages to arrive but it is left in my porch without me signing for it. Likewise When I send a Recorded Delivery it arrives & only last week I knew it had arrived as my Paypal account was credited with a refund for the goods returned. But tracking my item on the Royal Mail website informs me that it is still going through their system. This is because a signature was not required when it was delivered even though I had paid for this service. People are paying for a service that they are not receiving. Royal mail need some healthy competition then they might up their game.

Sandyback abroad says:
6 April 2011

More disappointing is that we get less and less: it started with no Sunday collections, now just one collection / day, one delivery / day – and that is often LATE! in the afternoon.

Al Clements says:
6 April 2011

The postie`s are out in all weather to pop your letters through the letter box.
That is a service that will take some beating

John says:
6 April 2011

If the Royal Mail were allowed to charge the companies that dump there uneconomic mail on them the full price then Royal Mail would soon be in profit.
There is no hope while they are forced to subsidise the private companies.

Graham Forecast says:
6 April 2011

while the government allow private companies to continue ‘cherry picking’ services, it is bound to cost Royal Mail more to deliver to an increasing proportion of the ‘uneconomic’ locations.
If the commercial companies are charging more for PO boxes, it must cost this to supply them, so it is not unreasonable for Royal Mail to charge an economic fee either – however unpalatable that may be.
Like most people, I now use internet services where I would previously have sent letters, so I suppose I am contributing to the dwindling requirement for postal services. It is not surprising that they are suffering from the opposite of ‘economies of scale’, and the cost to provide the service is increasing, so I am willing to pay the extra when I do still need to send a letter. I do expect them to continue to provide a good service though, and I hope Stevie E has complained if they are not operating the recorded delivery service properly in his area.

Chrispy bacon says:
6 April 2011

Our stamps have been incredibly inexpensive for many years.
With a reduction in demand we must expect an increase in price if:
1. The Royal Mail have done as much as they can to increase their efficiency.
2. No subsidy is forthcoming from the government (out of our money!)
As 1. is unlikely and 2. is day-dreaming we must expect an increase in charges!
It is too late (for the present change at least) to do as I have done and invest in stamps as a better bet than current savings opportunities (even if you have the available funds) .
But, for the future, if you can, buy in a stock of stamps if you have no better alternative way of corresponding.

A 5p increase is steep if you take into account that the service is indeed getting worse every year. Gone are the days of your own dedicated postman; we now one delivery a day, which can arrive anytime between 11am and 5pm and which, on one or two days a week doesn’t materialize at all. The rounds are now too long, often not allowing the postmen to finish them in the time allotted. No one minds paying more for good service but I fail to see why we should be asked to pay more for one which you cannot rely on.

I am still willing to pay the price to keep the royal mail going. The steadily increasing costs arise partly because of the diminution in the number of letters, although this appears to be made up by the increase in junk mail. The major reason is that the hiving of to private companies of the more profitable parts of the service. Just what’s about to happen to the NHS if we’re not careful.

Dave says:
7 April 2011

I don’t send much mail out these days, but when I buy stamps I always buy a book of a hundred at a time (2nd Class; no point in using 1st Class). I bought 100 in April 2000 for £21.00, again in Feb 2008 for £24.00 & the last lot in April 2010 for £30.00. Of the last lot, I still have 64 left, so it will be a while before I have to buy more. Of course, the price will have shot up when I do, but it’s still more cost-effective to buy them this way, assuming you can afford the initial outlay.