/ 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?

Sue Bokacz says:
17 August 2011

I too have had a renewal at £170 for the coming 12 months and after 7 years I will be cancelling my PO box. I would rather pay a private company double than pay Royal Mail this fee; although I can get one for far less than Royal Mail are charging. I hope other customers vote with their feet and do not renew.

Ben Philpott says:
10 November 2011

Count yourselves lucky guys, my renewal went from Yr 1 at £140 to Yr 2 £240…. and woth nop explanation.
No time to sort out an alternative so have paid this year – however it is a given that Yr 3 I will not be renewing. For the Post Office, short term gain, long term pain. Not the best business model.

Classic J says:
5 December 2011

You moan about the price increase but would rather pay double to someone else out of spite?? Excellent use of common sense there….

I too have received the renewal of £170 for no improvement in service. Rather than renew I am considering approaching local offices who operate in a building with a name and offer to pay them to receive mail on behalf of the company. Hopefully a fraction of the price with a grander sounding address.

Richard Cradock says:
15 September 2011

I am also a small business desperately trying to survive the recession only to find that this government can not even show some sort of sympathy by keeping P.O Box number prices down. It is surely short sightedness for such an increase when it will be the small businesses that are going to do the employing when this country starts to show some kind of growth and they should be encouraged

I got my renewal for my PO Box today and to be honest I am disgusted. This is robbery and Royal Mail are praying on businesses that need their PO Boxes to run there business (trapping them in to paying like been locked in at a strip club in eastern europe and made to pay more by the maffia or something).

I AM NOT PAYING £170.00 that is the end of it unless they want to give me it cheaper I will leave simple as. I have been with them for 4 years the 1st, 2nd and 3rd payment was around or bellow £62.85. Then I was anoyed last year when it went to £95 BUT this year it’s £170????

I hardly use this so called box but liked it to keep things seperate. Really Royal Mail was getting the money off me for hardly doing anything (MONTHS WITHOUT A LETTER SOMETIMES) It was there when I wanted to use it though, I have a business address so you can deliver my stuff free of charge there (TAR :P) so like I say probably cancelling too….I mean there stupid enough to stick to their guns aren’t they if there stupid enough to hike this TABLE TOP/RUBBERBANDED/PO BOX price up this much. Hope you have a waiting list for these PO Boxes Royal Mail….

Peter Poole says:
30 September 2011

I was shocked to learn of this increase, as I have rented a PO Box in Hove since 1993 – that’s eighteen years. Was hoping to make it to the 20th anniversary, but looks like the end. It was so useful as, living in rented accommodation with insecure mail & unplanned moves, I could keep continuity. Also it was good for looking after A4 manuscript envelopes that I didn’t want stuffed through door. This charge disproportionately hurts small operators, and also activists who publish campaign leaflets etc. but don’t want to under their home address. I will complain to the Royal Mail & my MP, and urge others to do so.

JO JO says:
4 October 2011

I have just been to the post office to post a small birthday card and was shocked to be told it would be 75p first class because it had a small raised flower on the card. Why should it cost 29p more to post this than an ordinary card. On 4th September I sent a birthday card to Ireland, think it cost around 94p and it still has not arrived, this is the third time this has happened, so I have no faith in the postal service any more, they just loose things and unless you pay the crazy price for recorded delivery you have no come back, seems they can charge what they like and do what they like!

stevef says:
28 June 2013

They letter sizing is based on what can be processed by machine, any letter over the sizes or with small bits sticking out have to be manually handle which costs royal mail a lot more. With regards to your letter to Ireland, did you put a return address on it, you wouldn’t believe the amount of letters we get every day with misspellings or the wrong door numbers, these letters just get killed off and are recycled if there is no return address, many people blame royal mail but a majority of the time its the error of the sender, so always put a return address.

Until the Post Office are forced by law to pay decent compensation, you won’t get anything like the servoce we had 20-30 years ago. I still get post bent groing thru the letterbox, when simply truning the letter 90 degrees would avoid the need to fold it in half. And dont get me started on the letters clearly marked do not bend. Shame I can’t post pictures of the things I have to put up with. And the recent which survey on the royal mail, missed 75% of the junk the Royal Mail deliver just cos its not in an envelope or has no address on it. Shame on you which.

The increase to £170 for a po box is outrageous!

I googled ‘value po box’s central london’ and got a great service for £80 + one off £15 set up fee.

They then charge a small fee of 10p per item.

It kind of gives a lie about Royal Mail’s outrageous increases justified on the grounds of competitors charging upwards of £400 per year.

It’s simply monopoly price gouging and everyone should vote with their feet.

Kevin Leame says:
6 October 2011

I am very much in agreement that the rise in rental cost for a Royal Mail PO Box is extortionate. The arguement, Royal Mail has, in effect, not managed its own pricing sufficiently well over the years is scant explanation to those customers who remain and therefore have to foot the bill for this mis-management. An 80% increase in one year is scandalous and really should prompt suitable investigation from a relevant regulator. The immediate consequence for a small business – other than the invoice itself – is whether to stay with RM or cease the rental and then go through the time consuming process of advising clients and trading contacts alike of a new mailing address.
Cost again involved.
Difficult to support an institution such as RM when it apears intent on breaking the arm of the hand that feeds it!
Kevin Leame (Nottingham)

John Holden says:
28 October 2011

I’m grateful to Royal Mail for forcing the issue. I ditched my PO box when the price was hiked from £125.75 to £200. That’s a saving £125.75 plus inflation a year. Happy days.

I use a po box for my correspondence address as I am abroad often.
The account has been in place since Nov 2007, I do not recall such a sharp price increase in those times (£62.85 in 2009).

I recently received the renewal invoice on my return from an extended trip and am ASTOUNDED by the 80 % increase since last year
This is a CRIMINAL increase especially in these economic turbulent times.

When asked at the local depot where my PO is based about contingency if I did not renew – I was told that they could not hold any letters delivered after cancellation and all would be returned to sender (I don’t know what happens to letters without return address).
This is an appalling service as there is simply not enough time to change all of the companies and individuals who write to me at the PO address.

I therefore HAVE NO CHOICE but to renew for 6 mths (the minimum period) and then take that time to readdress my contacts.
This is an indefensible situation by Royal Mail and I feel sure that many users of PO boxes are outraged by this price increase – WITH NO EXTRA SERVICE BENEFITS WHATSOEVER.

what pressure can be brought to bear !!!!!!

I have been running a po box service with street re-delivery for my business for several years. My renewal invoice recently came through showing a 60 per cent increase on last year.

As if this weren’t enough, Royal Mail have consistently managed to lose or delay my po box addressed business post. Important items posted locally have arrived 3 or 4 weeks after the postmarked date of posting. I’ve even had items arrive late with another companies’ post room ‘date received’ stamp on, showing that RM delivered my post to the wrong address, and thankfully in those cases the other company re-posted the item so I eventually received it (a couple of months late!). In other cases post has simply gone missing.

I contacted Royal Mail about why I would not be renewing my PO Box, their customer services dept responded with a politely worded reply to the effect of ‘if you don’t like it, tough’.

Well done Royal Mail, you have totally alienated me as a customer, I will never be paying you for such services in the future. What a short sighted and utterly counter-productive approach you have taken. From what I have found by talking to others and searching online, large numbers of people who have been customers of the RM PO Box service for years have ditched Royal Mail now.

How is alientating and ripping off it’s customers supposed to alieviate Royal Mail’s financial problems?

As for how RM treat their own staff, Royal Mail’s management seem to be doing a good job of alienating their postal workers as well as their customers. Utterly incompetent management.

Dave says:
8 December 2011

I’d be curious to know whether the person who disagreed with my comment by clicking on the red ‘disagree’ button would care to advance a rational argument in support of their disagreement… What is it about the outrageous 60% price hike, or the poor service of losing my post or delaying it for weeks, or the poor treatment of RM’s own junior staff by RM management (as evidenced by industrial action), that you could possibly rationally agree with??? Maybe you just like randomly clicking colourful buttons…

Steve says:
17 December 2011

Useful for my small business, difficult to dispense with quickly, so will pay £170 next February, but that will be the last time. i guess that its a service that RM accountants or Consultants want to close down and i am sure within a few years they will achieve it. Pity as many smaller revenue streams are often at marginal extra cost.

Peter Poole says:
17 December 2011

Following my comment a couple of months back, I did not renew my PO Box. I did, however, write to the Royal Mail explaining why – the reasons were similar to many expressed above – and saying that I wanted my letter to be treated as a customer complaint. I expected some kind of reply back: after all, they don’t have to pay for a stamp. I have not received anything, so can only conclude the comment by Steve, above, is right and that they just want to wind down the service. Daft, as PO Boxes are common in the States and Canada, for example, where letters can’t always be delivered to remote homes.

e mason says:
11 February 2012

in US for 30+yrs the smallest poBox has fluctuated between 19 and 21. now suddenly theyre asking 29. i can avoid fear of further erratic demands by getting out now. i might expect such abuse from a megabank or insurance co but the govt is supposed to be non-profit and also do for us what we cannot do as individuals. a privately owned service will be worse. maybe i can pay a friend what i would have paid the PO that doesnt appreciate my many yrs of support. thanks for this forum,

Lindum says:
11 April 2012

“………smallest poBox has fluctuated between 19 and 21”

19 and 21 what? Inches, cms, M3, dollars?

alan c says:
13 February 2012

The hike in RM’s PO Box fees over the past 2 years must surely mean that they are trying to kill off the service? I’ve had a PO Box for 13 years. The service has been reliable, but I can’t say the mail has always reached the Box promptly. Plus, when I go to collect the mail I’m often puzzled by uncertainty on the part of the staff as to where my mail might be – from what they say to me and each other, it’s sometimes downstairs, sometimes upstairs, sometimes in an ‘annexe’, and sometimes all have to be checked (but only if they have the time) – and I long ago concluded that, at my RM city-centre office at least, there aren’t actually any ‘boxes’ or even pigeonholes as such.

I’ve no option but to renew and shell out the £170 – but this, baby, really will be the last time.

The RM seems to be another once-fine British public-service institution heading for the rocks. I don’t know how we do it, but do it we do, and it’s a shame. But, sympathetic as I might be, I’m not willing to be taken for a fool.

I got 5 months free after the rise, which was nice – last week I noticed nothing in the usually busy box, and realised that my renewal must be due – I’d received no invoice or reminder. Same thing happened last year as well, though the local staff that time were very helpful in keeping my mail and alerting me to the problem.
Anyway, I mailed customer services (as they’re not open at weekends) and was told that the box was canceled due to non-payment in October. No attempt to sell me a renewal or whatever. Not sure if I can afford the £170 or indeed if I’ll close it on principle. I think Royal Mail is doomed, sadly for the regular staff – posties and sorters – who I’ve always found great.

Lindum says:
11 April 2012

The PO claim that they have to do this due to high cost of a universal service. The solution is therefore to not have a universal service. Those of us living outside of major urban areas should expect a (say) twice weekly service or a service where we are expected to collect our mail from (say) the local post office.

I believe however this is not being done to conserve a service – it is being done to pump up profits so that the service will be privatised, and the directors involved will see a 10 fold increase in remuneration.