/ Money, Shopping

Will you abandon Royal Mail now that stamps cost 60p?

It will now cost you 60p to send a first-class letter with Royal Mail’s stamp price rise coming into force today. The service will deliver your letter to any part of the UK for 60p – good value or an end to your posting days?

Rising from 46p, a first-class letter (weighing up to 100g) will now cost you 60p to post with Royal Mail – a significant 14p bump from the cost last month. A second-class stamp has also gone up, from 36p to 50p. It’s the single largest price rise in Royal Mail’s history.

And many people around the country have been stockpiling stamps to save on posting letters in the future, including Wavechange:

‘I bought £45.60 worth of stamps at the weekend and could have had more.’

But is this price rise all that bad? I had a look through the Which? magazine archives, and found myself in 1985 when first and second-class stamp prices were 17p and 13p respectively.

Next to today’s prices, that looks incredibly cheap, but how much would they really cost in today’s economy? Well, when you take inflation into account, you’re looking at approximately 43p and 33p. Interestingly, that’s not too far off the price of stamps before this latest price rise.

‘Phenomenal’ postal network

However, despite the increase, some Which? Convo commenters still think a 60p first-class stamp is a bargain, like Steepleview:

‘60p is still ridiculously cheap. To be able to post an item and have it delivered the next day or the day after, anywhere in the whole of the British Isles is phenomenal. The logistics of this are truly mind-blowing.’

And Pippa thinks the rise is needed for Royal Mail to survive:

‘If Royal Mail is to survive it needs to be able to raise enough money to do so. I think the government has held them back and not let prices rise with inflation. If the post office can begin to make money and continue to provide the excellent service we have come to depend on we will all be the winners.’

Will postboxes become distant memories?

Yet, there are those commenters who don’t think the price rise is justified, like A.Lockyer:

‘I think Royal Mail will price themselves out of the letter delivery market. Email is cheaper and quicker and the way forward. The postbox on the corner of the street will soon be a thing of the past just like the telephone box.’

Complaints about the new prices often come down to poor service, with John Dover saying:

‘The new price for first-class would be fine if first-class letters arrived the next day. However, they often take much longer, so you are not getting what you have paid for.’

This is a complaint that goes all the way back to 1985 – a letter taking too long to arrive was the most common complaint in our 1985 survey (over three-quarters of all those dissatisfied).

In the infographic to the right (click to enlarge) you can see what proportion of first-class letters posted in our 1985 letters test (where we got 300 people in all parts of Britain to post 6,000 letters) arrived the day after posting.

So, it doesn’t look like much as changed since 1985 – except the price of stamps. Are they too expensive for the service you get from Royal Mail? Or is it still a modern day bargain?


I have just over 500 2nd class stamps – I run a newsletter for our kennels four times a year – to keep us all together and to raise some funds – frankly 400 newsletters that cost around 40p to print and 50p to post is £360 four times a year or £1440 out of my pocket. I really don’t think I can afford it – nor can I expect our adopters (who already pay to adopt our dogs) to pay individually for the newsletter – So it is likely that I will stop sending quarterly newsletters and restrict it to one a year with the Christmas Card.- except for those with a computer and broadband.


I can sympathise, Richard. It is a lot of money. I am involved with a charity with a lot of older members who do not use computers and our magazine is an important way of keeping in touch and keeping them as members. My experience is that paper magazines are often appreciated but not many people bother to read ones circulated by email or put on websites.

Two societies that I’m involved in have bulk purchased stamps to cover the next year’s magazines, but that just delays the problem. One of the societies is making use of people to do hand deliveries to save money.

Colin says:
8 May 2012

You post up a nice test result graphic from 1985, but provide no comparison with how the performance over the last 27 years has changed. Is the postal service better, worse, or the same as then?


Good question Colin – our most recent Royal Mail postal survey was in July 2011: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problems-with-royal-mail-services-postal-service/ though there will be more detail in the magazine article itself. Thanks

Mike Greenwood says:
13 May 2012

I dont mind paying a reasonable price for a good service. I would be happy to pay the higher price, if I get a good service. For the service we get at the moment NO !

pete says:
16 May 2012

When they introduced the letter size and charge a few years ago I lost any sympathy with the Royal Mail.
I understand the reason behind it but it was so confusing you would end up putting more stamps on just in case, the last thing you wanted was someone to have to go to the post office and pay to get there birthday card I no longer send anything like the number of letter I use to even the company I work with have stopped
I now do most of my correspondence by email and the Royal Mail now putting up the price because less people want to use them now is not going to persuade me to start using them again in fact I am starting to think they are looking to make the post office so unpopular that no one will mind if it is given to a private company to make deliveries

Sylvia Thomas says:
18 May 2012

Royal Mail have been going down hill a long time, and to add 60 pence to a first class stamp when half the post is not delivered is making fools of people, I have a lot of penpals so letter will now be sent on line, and very few Xmas cards will be sent by post, mainly on line, Royal mail will lose out big time.

Gary says:
2 July 2012

Whilst, I’m happy to pay 60p what really upsets me was the £2.70p to post a very small packet that weighed in at under 12 grams and because it was a couple of mm to big to fit through the slot without a squeeze. I had around 50 of these packets, so do the math ; (

D morgan says:
16 January 2013

The price is 60p not to fund the traditional service, but to fund the over the top pensions they’ve been offering for far too long and not funding properly out of their own wages, its a ripoff that we have to suffer because of incompetent management and government over the last 40 years, most of the people in middle management are setting up their own private delivery outfits and outsourcing themselves back to royal mail for more money, its the usual mess, they’re are plenty of people within royal mail hierarchy making plenty of money at the publics misery and expe