Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Price rises at the Post Office... thanks, Royal Mail!

Postage stamp notecard from Girlindustries
I'm emerging from my sick bed (seems like everyone's been ill in the last couple of weeks) because I've been thinking about the announced price increases for sending post since I first heard about them at the end of February.  I'll warn you now, this is going to be a very link-heavy post because I'm still not sure I understand all the changes, so I'm just going to do a bit of an information dump here and let you find out more about how it will affect you as a customer and for my crafty colleagues, as a user of their services.

Two things are changing on 2 April - pricing cost, and pricing structure.  And when I say that pricing cost is changing, it is not going down, that's for certain.  And when I say that pricing structure is changing, it does not mean that it's getting simpler.  So I should say that posting a parcel, aka 'small packet', in the UK is getting more complicated and more expensive. 

On the whole, shopping in will be unaffected.  My items are small and generally go by large letter rate within the UK.  Most of my customers are overseas, and at this time, prices for air mail are not going up.  However, one thing that is changing for domestic and international mail is that the level of compensation for lost, damaged and delayed packages is going to be cut by more than 50% - so where you are currently covered for loss/damage up to £41, or $60, this is cut by just over half. 

Prices for Air Mail are going up later in the year, this information came from an assistant at our large, or Crown, Post Office in Glasgow - across the road from where I work at my day job.  This information came hot on the heels of finding out on Saturday that my local Crown Post Office in Alloa is to close shortly.  You can see why I am starting to get a bit fed up.

Add to this 4 lost parcels and 2 significant delays since December and I am very brassed off with the current level of service provision from both Royal Mail and the Post Office. Two of these parcels would not be eligible for compensation under the new rules.

Here are some things you can do.  The official info from Royal Mail is here:
People with a UK address can sign the petition against the price increases here:
You can register to have a new size guide for parcels sent to you from here:
What I'll be doing is thoroughly researching the new processes and details and adding a listing to my shop for upgraded shipping insurance for larger orders.  I receive a lot of orders for wedding stationery and would not want to risk sending these uninsured.  In the past, I have split orders down into smaller bundles before sending so that they are still covered should one go missing.  However, this isn't practical for a limit of $30, so I'll look at what I need to do to ensure all my customers are protected. 

Before I became ill (I have chronic sinusitis and it's flared up badly again), I started a campaign on facebook called PomPoms for Post Boxes, which proposes a day of action on 2 April to raise awareness of the price changes.  I want to make sure that when customers inevitably see a rise in cost of delivery, particularly of handmade goods, they understand that it is driven by Royal Mail and not individual seller-makers.  I'm going to try to get that up and running again over the next couple of days and see if we can get more people thinking and talking about the changes.  I'll post the link here as soon as I can!

Edited for clarity around use of Royal Mail and the Post Office - thanks to @millyandpip on Twitter for the heads up!