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Royal Mail: Large Letter ban for Ecommerce?

By Chris Dawson August 12, 2013 - 6:16 am

Royal Mail is considering altering the large letters services for paid for goods

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].”

Above is just one question from a survey sent out to many Royal Mail customers. Tamebay readers who took part in the survey used words such as “Scary” “Apoplectic” in their reactions.

Royal Mail Strike 677

This is a big deal for ecommerce. If you can’t send paid for goods in large letters then you’re forced to use Royal Mail 24 or Royal Mail 48 instead. It’s pretty much a jiffy bag ban.

Whichever large letter tariff you’re currently using, if you’re not allowed to send paid for (eBay, Amazon and Website sales) via large letters then your prices are going to be hiked.

You also may find that you’re forced to use services which attract VAT, even if you’re not VAT registered.

At Tamebay we still think Royal Mail is a great company. They’re the very best at delivering light weight items to every single door in the country at a flat rate, with no silly surcharges for the far flung corners of the UK, even including the Channel Islands (which aren’t even in the EU).

However, banning ecommerce parcels from the large letter service would simply be a price hike disguised as a service change. What does it matter if it’s a birthday gift or an eBay purchase inside a large letter? What’s the difference between receiving a catalogue or a decoupage kit that you’ve paid for?

Do you use Royal Mail Large Letters to despatch any of your ecommerce sales? Tell us what the impact of being banned from using Large Letters would have on your business.

  • Terry
    4 years ago

    Hi, I know many small sellers would be hugely impacted by this, a company I worked with was almost exclusively large letter, even letters in some cases for around 4500 pieces per week, this would drive the price of small items up to silly prices.

  • 4 years ago

    I sell Books and I would guess that 75% of the Books I sell go out in Jiffy Bags and are posted at Large Letter Rates.So if I was Banned from sending out via Large Letter Rates it would be a disaster.

    However How are the Royal Mail going to know what is in the Jiffy Bag? Are they going to open them all to check?

    Currently Large Letters are sorted and delivered as part of the normal mail. Because when you come right down to it that is what they are. If the RM artificially split the Paid For Goods from the rest and state that just because of the contents they have to be dealt with differently how is that going benefit anybody(including RM).

    As well as selling Books I am also an Elected Parish Councillor. I receive a lot of documentation through the post as a Councillor. Often these come in Large Letters. So we could have a Large Letter containing a Large Briefing for me as a Councillor being dealt with separately to a Large Letter that I send out containing a Book(which could be of exactly the same dimensions as the Briefing) being dealt with differently. Bonkers totally Bonkers.

  • Mark
    4 years ago

    I can’t see this happening. In one fell swoop, the vast majority of the Post Office network would collapse, as Ebay is their only saviour at the minute.

    Also, how would it be policed? I could just buy stamps & stick them on the “large letters” and nobody would be none the wiser unless they are going to open every package that goes through them. Even then, if there is no paperwork, there’d be no proof of “skullduggery”.

    • Martin Davies
      4 years ago

      Why would Royal Mail care about the post offices? They didn’t last April, no reason why they should in the future.

  • Stuart
    4 years ago

    Crazy, this would destroy sales of so many items, CD’s and DVD’s for one!

    We send around 1000 LL every week along with around 1500 parcels, this does increase dramatically at Christmas.

    Tamebay may think Royal Mail is a great company but perhaps they should come and see what we have to put up with on a daily basis from their ‘customer service’ and delivery problems.

    This would be another nail in the coffin and a very big one. It would also be very poor indeed if there is only 30 days notice like we normally get for price rises.

    • Jimbo
      4 years ago

      There is one very big nail and that nail is privatization, which is coming. This kind of change is coming because of privatization. Royal Mail is changing from being a service to enterprise. And isn’t this what we all wanted?

      CD’s and DVD’s are going to be obsolete pretty soon anyway.

    • Stuart
      4 years ago

      I don’t think CD’s and DVD’s will be obsolete for a very, very long time. Fibre optic/broadband has a huge mountain to climb first before we see the end of these.

    • Jimbo
      4 years ago

      Maybe I was overstating the case but it would seem that the writing is on the wall.

  • 4 years ago

    This would have a catastrophic effect on the business of several of our clients and I can see no justification at all for it. As you say what is the difference between delivering a catalogue and a small item bought from ebay (or anywhere else). It is hard enough as it is to get a competitive edge without the main carrier in this country changing the rules. Smaller (and large) companies have invested heavily in producing special boxes to suit the new rules and the inventory to go with them.Then the rules change! Come on Royal Mail. Pay fair.
    Carol McGregor Dispatch

  • northumbrian
    4 years ago

    this is supposition being treat as fact , until it happens were not going to worry about to much ,even then with so much competition ,there will be alternatives

  • JD
    4 years ago

    So ‘small’ letters could be used for tickets etc. but ‘large’ letters could not be used for a larger wedge of tickets etc.?

    I think that I need a sit down.

    All my inland stuff goes large letter due only to the protective stiffening involved.

    The headline should be ‘Royal Mail considers eBayesque improvement’

  • fusion
    4 years ago

    Terrible news if this goes ahead. This basically increases my LL size orders (Which is 50% of my UK orders) by more than double. To be honest, this may caused me to look for additional services with other companies as all my packets will now be classed as the same and wont get the advantage of LL

  • Jon
    4 years ago

    I’m sorry but I don’t see how Royal Mail can possibly marshal this without completely scrapping the large letter service. Anyhow what is this 24/ 48 hour service? Don’t you mean small parcels? If you mean small parcels then my business is going to be dead in the water.

    This is exactly what I expected to happen when RM gets flogged but obviously they are considering this option to get a better price for it.

    All I can say is this is the way of the world. It’s called GREED!

    • Stuart
      4 years ago

      24/48 is the new 1st and 2nd class for PPI business users.

      This is where you add up all the weights of the parcels then divide this up by the amount of parcels and pay the average price for the band the weight then fits into.

      If you are just taking parcels to the post office then this wouldn’t really make much difference to you.

    • Jon
      4 years ago

      Oh I see. Currently I just go to the PO with a sack of mail & give them my mail & some cash & they give me the change the next day. No waiting in line. Obviously you need to be friendly with your local PO but for the minute savings with PPI you might be better off getting to know your local post office again then you can keep your local PO happy.

      So at the worst it basically 10% saving on whatever the 24/48 costs with PPI Vs queuing up in the local PO for 90p – £1.60 LL

      Surely they are not going to do this?

    • Gerry007
      4 years ago

      .
      Of course have to add 20% VAT to the 24/48 hour service unlike Large letters that are exempt.

    • Martin Davies
      4 years ago

      Exempt? Thats a new one. We pay VAT on ours though as VAT registered claim that back anyway.

    • Gerry007
      4 years ago

      .
      Ist & 2nd class large letters for BPL codes on OBA are exempt from VAT

    • 4 years ago

      I actually find that PPI using Royal Mail 24 and 48 (both LL and parcel) saves me and my customers quite a bit of money over the local post office.
      Because I can divide the total weight by the no of parcels (again LL and packages) I can average out the cost and normally come in at the lowest price level for each banding. Consequently we can end up send 3kg first class for £2.95 – the same price as for 500g
      And a nice bloke comes to pick it all up every night at 5pm

      Yes, I can get caught out every now and then and end up with a load of heavy parcels, but if it looks desperate I can always re-route them to a carrier to amortise the cost
      However the idea that RM are going to drop the LL rate for businesses confuses me – either they have LL or they don’t – what are they going to do – open everyone’s letter to see if it is a CD from eBay as opposed to a DVD of grandma’s Ruby wedding bash – can’t work

  • northumbrian
    4 years ago

    were not worried at all we will just charge extra for free postage lol

  • Kate George
    4 years ago

    All my sales are large letter. Pretty soon I won’t be able to use ebay at all if things carry on the way they are going. I mainly sell earrings these days and a few CDs. I used to be able to send a pair of earrings in a box (weight around 18g) for a first class stamp, then the rules change and I have to use large letter with a price hike. Now ebay want to charge fvf on postage because they don’t make enough out of me already (free postage really won’t work for me). Now this. It just won’t be economical to sell anything under £5 before long.

  • Bunchy
    4 years ago

    I only use large letter. I stopped selling packet and parcel sized goods when the pricing of sending such items started to go crazy and unviable for low-cost items.

    If this goes ahead and I need to swtich to the 24/48 service (which means printing NEW ppi stamps as well), there will be a price hike of about 8p per item sent (24 service = 66p plus VAT v currently 71p no VAT).

    I knew at the last April price increase that account customers of LL had got away lightly with only a 1p price raise. Now I know why ……

    • Gerry007
      4 years ago

      .
      CAN SOMEONE POST A LINK TO THE 24/48 PRICE GUIDE.

      ALL I CAN FIND IS A PRICE CALCULATOR…

    • 4 years ago

      Hi Gerry007,

      Just uploaded one to my server. You need to add 2.5% to the prices for RM fuel surcharge and then 20% VAT.

      http://www.easilogic.com/RM2448.jpg

      These prices are based on the average weight of total parcels sent via each class.

      I think you can send upto 30kg, via 24, (max for 48 is 2kg) but once you get to 1.5-2kg a next day courier is better value.

      In order to qualify for a PPI account you need to have billed £5k+ through RM over the preceding 12 months.

      Thanks

      Sam – EasiLogic Ltd

    • Martin Davies
      4 years ago

      Used to be £5k to qualify for PPI. Its now £1,000 – has been since April.

    • 4 years ago

      Strange, phoned them up last week and was told £5k…classic Royal Mail

  • Gemma
    4 years ago

    A large proportion of our orders is for colouring books and pens, all of which are sent by large letter, which means that we are able to subsidise the postage on our larger items. If this change comes into effect, we will either have to stop offering these items, or increase our postage rates (which we are already doing due to the eBay changes). Either way, customers won’t be happy.

  • ?
    4 years ago

    Would these proposals affect sending large letter with postage stamps on the packet and dropped into a letterbox?

  • peter stanley
    4 years ago

    Goodness knows how they would enforce it, who’s to say a book/ cd / dvd came from a business what if it was a gran sending a grandson / daughter a present for their birthday are they going to tell them they have to pay extra postage. What about businesses just starting up in their spare bedroom who have no idea if they will sell enough to be able to get the royal mail 24 / 48, they are effectively telling them they don’t want their business because they aren’t big enough.

    • Gerry007
      4 years ago

      If you use OBA they will assume the items are ‘paid for goods’.

    • Mark H
      4 years ago

      >what if it was a gran sending a grandson / daughter a present for their birthday

      The presence of a hideous card is usually the giveaway!

    • peter stanley
      4 years ago

      Ha Ha very true MarkH, in reply to Gerry007 (nice name), so what Royal Mail would do is tell businesses using 24 / 48 they were scrapping the large letter size and just have Letters and Packets.

  • Jon
    4 years ago

    This would be catastrophic for many a small business. Going from 90p to £3 (assuming small parcel) is essentially saying goodbye to any profit!

  • 4 years ago

    “how would this affect your business…” Sure we would love to pay for a 1KG parcel service for an 80g letter…

  • Adam R
    4 years ago

    I’m not sure how this would work, but I assume I would send my small items “in disguise” via the Post Office over-the-counter. I can’t see anyone at Royal Mail checking. If this wasn’t possible I would stop selling my small items – I don’t make enough profit to make it worthwhile after the next price hike. (I only really keep it up to sell enough parcels for the OBA.) I am expected armageddon anyway when Royal Mail is privatised.

    Perhaps I’ll move to Hong Kong, it’ll be cheaper to send from there soon.

  • 4 years ago

    It’s absolutely worth reiterating that this is just a question from a survey and not a change or new policy. BUT needless to say, it could be. It’s on their mind, they’re thinking about it.

  • PayPalUser
    4 years ago

    Not good news for us – nearly everything we ship is LL

  • Gerry007
    4 years ago

    .
    Well the BRC [British Retail Consortium] really do not need to ask for an online sales tax now….

    1. First we get a Royal Mail hike & more to come with Privatisation.

    2. Then we get ebay demanding a 10% fee on FVF for postage

    3. Now we are [probably] having to up our postage to Parcel status from Large Letter @ a substantial cost increase.

    Add that lost together:

    1, + 10% + 2,+ 10% 3. + 10% [and another 20% VAT]….. = PLUS 30% and VAT on top.

    Seems that online sales are going to be an expensive alternative to shop buying in the not to distant future.!!..

  • 4 years ago

    Most of us put a return address on each and every item we send out by Mail. So it is a fair assumption that a Company Name on the Return Address means that it is a Trade Item.

    However if we all changed our Trading Name to be the same as our given name. Joe Bloggs or whatever how will the Royal Mail/Post Office know if the contents are Trade or a Present. The trouble with that would of course be that after spending years building up a Customer Loyalty to our Trade Name we would be abandoning it because of the Post Office/Royal Mail.

    • 4 years ago

      It will be a simple case of removing Large Letter tarrifs from OBA/DE so you cannot use them without visiting the orifice of post

  • Gerry007
    4 years ago

    .
    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander…

    That’s assuming they have rights, but we do under the human rights act.

    RM cannot differentiate between a private poster & a business poster.

    Amen

    • 4 years ago

      “RM cannot differentiate between a private poster & a business poster.”

      They can and already do with VAT on business services and not on private post, 1KG 2nd class limit on private, 2KG on business. It is possible and I think they are aware there is no alternative however killing gooses will be all they do

  • Chris
    4 years ago

    This would be a disaster for us if it happens.
    Having Large Letter is a godsend where you can make the extra few pennies to up your margin even further.
    I for one count daily the number of parcels I’ve sent using Royal Mail OBA, then divide by the cost to get a rough average price of postage per item.
    Large Letter helps this enormously!

  • M
    4 years ago

    Stupid. Royal Mail seems often determind to shoot itself and its customers in the food at every opportunity. I really really want to love Royal Mail but they just make me so angry. For years they seemed to be in denial about the transfer of their business from large volumes of letters to large volumes of small parcels. Even now, instead of embracing parcels and working with business, they seem hell bent on making themselves so uncompetetive and being so unhelpful that small business is forced to take custom elsewhere to couriers who are cheaper and at least pretend to value your custom rather than view you as an inconvenience.

    I am sick to death of Royal Mails whinging. I don’t agree with privatising the postal service but I’m sick of these lazy jobsworths.(our local postman excluded!)

  • Paul
    4 years ago

    This looks potentially terminal for our postcard business. I assume this is Royal Mail being made ready for privatisation? Fortunately we did see this coming at started another business for which we use couriers. That seems to be what Royal Mail want to become – just another courier. I’d certainly like to see them stripped of the name “Royal Mail” – why should they retain that privilege / advantage?

    • Cambridge_Blue
      4 years ago

      Quite agree Paul.
      How about ‘Consignia’ for the newly privatised business?

  • Cassie
    4 years ago

    This is not good news at all. I have already turned to MyHermes for my parcels. I had one the other day – £8 with Royal Mail £4 with MyHermes, no brainer really. If large letters go then I will seriously have to think if I can continue to trade. 50% of my items go large letter and there is not enough margin to absorb the extra costs. I am starting to understand Amazons recent changes to their postage deals!

  • Shaun Allison
    4 years ago

    For me this would eliminate most of my sales in the UK. I sell vinyl records (mainly 45’s) and some CDs and this would mean it would be as cheap to send items to Europe than it would in the UK. I can’t believe this is a serious suggestion by Royal Mail.

  • bizi
    4 years ago

    Small packets became useless for me since they introduced the 2 different services small and medium parcel, i turned to MyHermes and saved me 1000s over last festive period, i dont think they have ability to enforce a ban all they can do is restricting you from claiming insurance for lost / damaged mail.
    i think everyone got their eyes on online businesses, i remember back in 2000 they used to beg people to buy online & Now they fear for their high streets

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