/ 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?


OMG, the amount of junk mail the Royal Mail delivers, 5 bits of junk mail two days in a row, and yes I know its them has some of it is franked, delivered by the royal mail. Maybe they should prioritise on providing a service before they overload themeselves handling junk mail.

Mike says:
7 April 2011

72 years ago I could post a letter for a penny ha’penny (that’s about 0.6 of a penny in new money) and know it would be delivered early the next morning. Today it costs about eighty times as much and the service is occasionally excellent, more often rather patchy. Then, I could post a letter on one side of London in the morning and know that it would be delivered on the other side of London in the afternoon. We had no need to pay extra for first class mail because all mail was treated with priority. There were about six nominated collections every day including Saturday, and at least one on Sunday. There was a delivery early in the morning and a second delivery later in the morning, and if necessary another in the afternoon.
So why are we having to pay eighty times as much for a service that is nothing like as good as it used to be?

In 1939 postage for an ordinary letter was 1 1/2d According to “This is Money.co.uk” inflation from 1939 to 2008 (the latest year they give) was 4842% This should bring the cost of a first class letter in 2008 to 72.63d. This is equivalent to 29p. Therefore the cost of a First Class letter today should be no more than 29p plus inflation from 2008 until today. But is it a level playing field? In 1939 the Post Office did not have competition from carriers delivering documentsl and parcels. And how much has the price of vehicle fuel, a major part of delivery costs, increased compared since 1939 compared with inflation?

Kopiterod says:
7 April 2011

Reliability of deliveries is deteriorating, service at alot of post offices is diabolical !
The PO bosses have in recent years only looked after themselves, in their cosy nationalised shell.
The sooner it is privatised the better, lets get some competion in to this industry.

John says:
10 April 2011

I usually use second class postage and sometimes my letter arrives the day after. I also use airmail and surface mail and I am happy with these services. I don’t mind the increase in postage rates but I am not very happy about the PO Box rate increase which is absolutely unbelievable. In fact I won’t be renewing my PO Box this year. How much does running a PO Box actually cost Royal Mail?

raf says:
10 April 2011

The new price for Po Box is shocking.
I have a very small music label which does not make much money and so the £170 price will affect me badly. I can’t even cancel the service as all my CDs have the PoBox address printed on the cover. I’m simply forced to pay the price, if I want to keep receiving cheques from my customers ! This is akin to a mafia-like stunt = extortion!, and I despise Royal Mail for this move. Shame on you with your explanations, RM! The PoBox doesn’t even exist as such, they simply bundle all letters with a rubber band and stick them on a table. Worse, still is the abysmal service. Over the years I had my letters sent back to senders due to some Royal Mail moron at the sorting office saying that my PoBox does not exist! I had my letters send to my flat address, which is not safe, (that’s why I got the PoBox in the first place!).

I really hate being held a hostage like this…

Steph says:
22 April 2011

Is it even legal for Royal Mail to up their P.O.Box rate by so much ? I started using the service in 1998 when it cost £52 a year. £1/week seemed fair for a tiny pigeon-hole even though I was saving RM the cost of delivering my mail. I didn’t mind the gradual increase, to be expected, but last year’s hike made me take a deep breath and this year’s took my breath away. I’m not a business, I’m a private individual who doesn’t have a safe geographic address. I don’t mind the increase in stamp costs and the other service rates, I don’t want to lose the Royal Mail, but this is an astonishing rise over a two-year period. Is there a case for a legal challenge here ?

Catriona Rose Yule says:
11 May 2011

I work for a charity dealing with victims of domestic abuse. We have to have a PO box; we need to keep our location secret as possible. As far as i can tell, Royal Mail have the monopoly, there isn’t anywhere else i can use as an alternative, and giving up the box isn’t an option. Royal Mail does not offer any reduction for charities. As they don’t charge me extra for someone to put the mail in to a bag, put the bag in the van, drive the van and then put it through the letter box, me collecting at the sorting office is saving them money. In fact, they probably owe me something!! I have just sent a complaint to Royal Mail, but i wont get anywhere, they know i have no choice.

Steph says:
11 May 2011

I shall be writing to Royal Mail to complain too, and ask if there is an Ombudsman we can refer to.

I wonder how much Royal Mail would try to justify higher price rises if they were to stop delivering junk mail. Today 5 bits of junk mail, Friday: 16 last Tuesday: 7

My recycling box is starting to look too small 🙁

Jeff says:
17 May 2011

I don’t mind the stamp price at all. It’s still a great service for the price, but I’m looking to get a PO Box mainly for website ‘whois’ purposes. £170! wow. What are the alternatives? There must be another company that does a PO Box style service. Any info / help appreciated.

Catriona Rose Yule says:
17 May 2011

there seems to be very few alternatives; which adds to the argument that Royal Mail are exploiting the monopoly that they have!

Catriona Rose Yule says:
17 May 2011

this is the email address of Postcomm, who have some powers to regulate Royal mail, goggle to find their website. If every one who has posted on this page sends them an email complaining about the PO Box increase then we might get somewhere!

Karim says:
17 May 2011

I didnt get such a big rise, I wasn’t aware that royal mail was charging different prices.

I live close to my collection box, so I opt to self collect. I was paying in the region of £60 p.a. before, and I was recently landed with a £90 p.a. invoice last November.

I am a full time blogger, so only need a PO BOX to publicly display when sending out emails and domain registration. It’s not vital to my business, so I just decided not to renew my PO BOX and consider other options.

The market rate for a po box in the open market is around £150 a year, mind you you get far better service with a privately run PO BOX, like an action box with lock and key that you can operate. My royal mail PO BOX gives me a card that I have to hand over to staff, who keep all the PO BOX stuff on a shelf.

Paul Hull says:
24 May 2011

The 80% rise this year & 170% rise in last two years in PO Box’s on this service which is a monlopy.
Royal Mail say it is in line with other companies, year there are no other companies offering this service outside London.
To top that the first we knew about it was when we received our invoice, with only 30 days to pay or lose the service.

The reason there are no other company PO Boxes outside London is because the other companies can’t make a profit on them outside London – So if you want a PO Box you have to pay the going rate.

The RM hasn’t got a monopoly – anyone can set up a PO box service but they don’t – RM are the only ones offering the service – not the same thing at all.

Latest Post Office Scam!
Postage Pre-paid junk mail is attracting excess postage charges because the originators have not updated their pre-paid postage accounts to the new rates. Trouble is, you only get a card from the sorting office saying you have post waiting.

You put postage stamps onto the card to the value they request (or use your franking machine) then they deliver whatever it is that’s waiting. We had mail advertising a circus, from Reed Business Information and a Conference company, to name three. At nearly £2 per item, it’s a nice little earner for the Post Offrice. All of them have a pre-paid licence number so why can’t the Post Office recharge back the the originators account? I was told this is not possible. So – the recipient must be made to suffer. Watch out, and refuse anything with an excess charge on it. The Post Office is required to return it to the sender.

Rachel Jordan says:
19 June 2011

I’m not upset about the rise in prices on stamps, as the few extra pennies don’t make much difference to me as a person who rarely sends letters.
What does upset me is that when I do choose to use the Royal Mail postal service, the service is often appalling. In my village, we have one pick-up time a day, and absolutely none on Sundays. Our postman has a tendency to not deliver letters at all, this week we had four days without any post and suddenly a splurge of letters fell through our door, I find it hard to believe that there was absolutely no post throughout the week and then a sudden flurry of it on Friday. Plus, the irregular post times, when I was a child I remember at a certain time every morning, usually around 8am, we would get our post for the day. Now it doesn’t surprise me if the postman hasn’t come when I come home at 4pm.
The thing that really gets my back up though, is when the Royal Mail’s inadequacies cause problems in my life. This year, I have a very unhappy father who lives miles away from me, who failed to get a father’s day card on time. I posted the card on Thursday, in plenty of time before the postman should have made the collection. It had a first-class stamp on it which I was happy to pay for, and therefore I am totally outraged that when I called my dad to wish him a happy father’s day, he was angry at me because he hadn’t recieved his card on time.
I paid extra for a first class stamp rather than simply posting second class, I posted it in plenty of time, and yet it still does not arrive before Sunday. If I’m paying for a service I expect for it to be done properly, and I really don’t think that I should have to pay for a recorded delivery to ensure a simply father’s day card can make it on time. 😐

Andy Barnes says:
6 July 2011

The price increase for the PO Box is utterly disgraceful. I have run a relatively small “fan club” for a recording artist for over 15 years and have been running a PO Box for over 10 years – the idea being that I can keep the fan club correspondance separate from personal address for security reasons (I don’t particularly want all and sundry to have my personal address…….).
I make no money out of running the fan club and do it purely for “love”…..
Over the years the price of the PO Box has gone up a few pounds per year – not too bad, but this recent hike is ridiculous – I get nothing extra out of the price rise, I still have to drive over and collect the mail from the sorting office same as I ever did.
As for “we’ve been subsidising the PO Box for several years…” – RUBBISH! Nowhere on any PO Box related correspondance I have ever recieved does it say that £55.00 or £65.00 (previous years prices) are SUBSIDISED PRICES.
Well, Royal Mail – I hope you are happy to lose this customer who has helped your business the last 10 years – what you really need is three or four similar private companies set up to give you some proper competition to the services that you provide. Perhaps then you might realise that “taking your customers for a ride” will backfire on you.

foots says:
11 July 2011

I don’t mind paying for a decent service but nowadays I just don’t find Royal Mail sufficiently reliable. Anything I post now of ANY value, however small, I do at the post office itself (although I’d rather not have to spend a half hour queuing) and get proof of posting. On the rare occasions when I pop something straight in a post box, well… lo and behold, last week I sent a packet, and a week later no sign of it. That is extremely annoying as I have no recourse to anything, no way of tracking it and really, JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH! It’s not asking too much is it, to be able to use a red post box with confidence?

John Holden says:
14 July 2011

A three or four percent rise as in recent years would have been fair enough, but a leap from £125.75 to £200.00 is a clear signal that (as I can do without it) it’s time to run down the use of the PO Box number. By stopping using it from here forward in stationery, suppliers, contracts and e-mail signatures, when I don’t pay up for next years’ renewal invoice (£250 ???), there won’t be any impact at all.