Royal Mail comment on the future of Large Letter service after Tamebay report

By Dan Wilson August 16, 2013 - 6:39 am

Earlier this week Tamebay reported that Royal Mail were surveying ecommerce sellers with this question:

If Royal Mail were to further focus its products so that ‘paid for goods’ were only allowed via Royal Mail 24/ 48 hour services and not via large letters, how would this affect you? [Letters up to 100g would still be allowed to contain ‘paid for goods’ such as tickets].

It’s a pretty specific question that might give us insight into the things that Royal Mail people are thinking to find greater monetisation in advance of their privatisation.

The article caught the eye of staff at Royal Mail and Tamebay has been sent a statement. Here it is verbatim. What do you think?

>> Royal Mail says:

Royal Mail is committed to maintaining a large letters format for its Royal Mail 24 and Royal Mail 48 services.

From time to time Royal Mail seeks the opinions of its customers in relation to our on-going plans to improve our products and services. Recently a number of businesses may have been asked to participate in research which sought to gain insight into customer’s opinions and an understanding of current behaviours on how paid for items are sent using various large letter formats.

It would appear that some customers might have drawn the conclusion that paid for items may no longer be allowed through large letter formats.

We are sorry for any confusion caused, Royal Mail sees the value in items which can be delivered via the letter-box and is committed to maintaining the large letter format within the Royal Mail 24 and Royal Mail 48 service.

The research question about paid for goods and the large letter format was asked in order to provide an understanding of how our customers use various large letters formats for paid for goods. Royal Mail wanted to understand the impacts upon our processing of large letter items, which can vary for business mail and correspondence and paid for goods.

  • A Bale
    4 years ago

    Relieved!!! That would have messed up my business.

  • 4 years ago

    Many Thanks for the Statement Royal Mail. But I for one am just as confused as I was before. I currently send out a very large proportion of the Books I sell by Large Letter that I post at the Post Office.

    From the Statement will I or will I not be able to continue to send out Books by LL? Or will I have to use 24/48 Services?

    From my point of view I would like to continue as I do at present although if a Lower Cost Option was to arise I would certainly be interested in examining it.

  • AG
    4 years ago

    RM’s response is far from reassuring for anyone without access to RM 24/48 and/or not able to reclaim VAT. The lack of reference to the future of the other LL services currently available, either via OBA or directly via the Post Office, can reasonably be interpreted to mean that these services will be discontinued.
    Please can Tamebay clarify this with RM? (There may be implications for franked mail and postage purchased via Paypal too?)

    • Gerry007
      4 years ago

      My thoughts too……

  • Steve
    4 years ago

    You do have to wonder if this isn’t just a broadside across the bows of ebay for introducing fees on postage; it would have significant impact on ebay if LL paid for items had to be costed at small parcel rates. We really need a bit of backbone in running our postal service; in a global online marketplace they are expensive, and size restrictions are probably going to happen to International post too; This week I recieved a small package from China, signed for, total price with postage? £3.00

  • 4 years ago

    Well I’m very relieved that LL paid for items won’t be reclassified as small parcels. Like many others that would have had a very major impact on my business as over 99% of what I send is via LL.

    However, the statement from RM remains unclear – what about LL over the counter and what about LL on the VAT free version of PPI (which still uses 1st / 2nd labels, rather than 24 / 48)?

    Chris T – if you send over 1000 packages a year, it’s probably worth looking into the potential cost savings of moving to Royal Mail’s PPI service anyway.

  • Michael H
    4 years ago

    Translated as : “On second thoughts we don’t fancy the bad publicity this would generate prior to privatisation, but after privatisation – anything goes.”

  • Toadlady
    4 years ago

    I don’t think they have a clue. The statement totally contradicts what the question asked.

  • Pieter van Woerkom
    4 years ago

    That basically says they are NOT committed to maintaining the Large Letter Format for anything other than 24 or 48, so it will be abolished and effectively a lot of us will end up paying more for posting the same articles as before. This is just a very good example of a politian’s non-answer. Essentially all the concerns raised in the original Tamebay post are confirmed.

  • Gerry007
    4 years ago

    From time to time Royal Mail seeks the opinions of its customers in relation to our on-going plans to improve our products and services. Recently a number of businesses, etc’……….

    SELLER Response:
    LL format as 24/48 service will cost more to the buyer in many sales, due to the inability of many businesses being unable to reclaim VAT charged


    Pay more to get my items to me…..NO way Hoza!.

    RMs statement actually says we will [maybe] keep LL in the 24/48 format] for account OBA customers & then offer PO customers LL format as 1st/2nd class.

    So effectively if you use OBA, you pay VAT & if you use the PO you will not [VAT free].

  • Peter LH
    4 years ago

    QUOTE: “Royal Mail …. is committed to maintaining the large letter format WITHIN the Royal Mail 24 and Royal Mail 48 service.”


    So if your turnover is below the VAT threshold and you’re using the Large Letter format via the BPL code you’re likely to have the mother of all price hikes! Solution = go out of business or start selling something (probably) too big to go through the letter box.

  • Nicholas
    4 years ago

    Thank god for that!! Would ruin my business if this had happened. Send out over 100 LL per day. Would of made a massive change to businesses depending on if they obeyed the new rules or not. My only option would of been to go with TNT but would they still of been able to use Royal Mail to deliver the “paid for goods” at their current large letter prices.
    I spoke to my account manager a few months back and he said Royal Mail loose a big chunk of any profit when delivering parcels and the customer is out. He gave the impression Royal Mail love large letters because they fit in the post box which is why they didn’t get a large price increase.

  • Cambridge_Blue
    4 years ago

    Be careful as this indicates several lines of thinking back at RM central.
    This issue is far from over.
    Remember that a small parcel at 80cms thick should also fit through a standard letterbox so forcing you to use that rather than large letter is not necessarily a showstopper for RM.
    Indeed given the current pricing differential between the two formats expect to see LL rates rise sharply now the small (actually not so small) parcel rate has been forced onto sellers.
    Current LL rates are arguable a bargain so they are going to rise steeply in any event next year.

    • Gerry007
      4 years ago

      NOT many people have a letter box opening anywhere near 80cm.

    • 4 years ago

      Years ago Postbox openings were reasonably standard. Most about 2 inches or so. However I have noticed in my home village that more and more of my neighbours are replacing the conventional Letterbox mounted in the front door with a tin box screwed to the front wall of the house. These things come in a range of sizes and designs. The very smallest have very restricted openings some are so small that a small letter or Christmas Card might be just about the maximum size that could be delivered to it, while even the very largest in some designs are not as large as the conventional door mounted letterbox.

      Is this trend just happening down here or is it fairly general across the country?

      Obviously if the trend became the norm then we are likely to find RM looking very carefully at the rules and indeed postal charges. I know that if I was delivering a Large Letter(say size 4 Jiffy Bag) containing a Book of reasonable size I just could not deliver it to a significant proportion of the tin box Letter Boxes in this Village.

      Perhaps RM should apply pressure to the Tin Box Letter Box manufacturers to come up with acceptable dimensions to allow RM to deliver reasonable sized LL or packets to.

    • 4 years ago

      After my previous posting I went to have a look at the Wall Mounted Letter Boxes on ebay. Many were of types that I recognise from around this Village.

      However another problem jumped to mind. Again from this village, but I would expect that it is fairly general across the country.

      Years ago if the Postman had a lot of mail for an address he could just push it all through. But today many houses in this Village have a wire contraption behind the letter to catch the letters and other post pushed through the letter box.

      Some of these wire contraptions are of limited capacity either in the amount of mail they can contain and some in the length of mail that they can contain. So the Postman could have very real problems posting a LL Size 4 Jiffy Bag containing a reasonable sized book. It either will not go in or if it does go in it will not go all the way through. This in the worst situation will mean that some of the post will be sticking out of the mailbox and will get wet if it rains.

      We will all be very unhappy if we get damaged goods claims and its because the LL or similar has been stuck half in and half out of the mailbox by a wire contraption. So far I have not had such a claim but winter in almost here again and every winter I seem to expect damaged goods claims because of this reason.

    • Cambridge_Blue
      4 years ago

      You are quite correct – my apologies!
      It looks like the more normal depth for houses is around 40mm which does make the LL format very attractive for RM.
      However for businesses it is much more varied of course.
      There is actually a European standard for letterboxes would you believe but lets not go there…..please

  • Gerry007
    4 years ago

    Sure RM have not forgotten about this:

    2. A safeguard cap to Second Class small parcels and large letters
    To further protect vulnerable consumers and small businesses, Ofcom has decided to extend the cap to Second Class small parcels and large letters up to 2Kg in weight. This will be linked to the Second Class safeguard cap and Royal Mail’s price increases for 2012/13 will not be constrained. Ofcom will consult on the level of the cap in April 2012.

    From here;