Surcharge bills from Royal Mail Revenue Protection

By Chris Dawson May 4, 2021 - 10:16 am

We are hearing that some online sellers are starting to get substantial surcharge bills from Royal Mail due to Revenue Protection measures. Sellers are reporting that Royal Mail’s new technology is incorrectly placing a surcharge on what they claim are correctly posted 2D barcoded Large Letters.

Surcharge for Royal Mail 24/48 and 1st Class & 2nd Class Account Mail

If items customers present to us differ from what they tell us they’ve posted, it means we incur additional handling costs, which includes correcting documentation. From 19 April 2021, Royal Mail will be updating charges for 1st Class & 2nd Class Account Mail (STL) Letters,

  • Large Letters and Parcels as well as Royal Mail 24® and Royal Mail 48® Large Letters and Parcels. These will cover the costs incurred when items are underdeclared or mis-declared on customer posting documentation and information contained within barcodes compared to what is actually presented to us.
  • If we identify a discrepancy in your posting for these products, we will apply an admin charge per item as well as a correction charge per item to cover the additional handling costs in addition to any postage cost that may have been incurred already.

– Royal Mail

One seller reports that “£0.85 Large letters are being surcharged at £4.70 ‘LL found to be Parcel’“. They also point out that surcharge billing is occurring for mail sent weeks and months prior so its near possible to investigate in real time. They are claiming inaccuracies with Royal Mail claiming that large letters were surcharged with the assertion that they weighed as much as 1.25kg rather than what the seller declared as 13g. No one’s scales should be out by that magnitude so this isn’t a case of a letter or parcel being overweight by a few grams.

Surcharges are pretty punitive – intentionally to discourage those that try to game the system (you can view the surcharge rates here). However that also means that even if only a few of your items have surcharges applied incorrectly that your unexpected invoice will be substantial and far in excess of what the original postage would have cost.

If you have started to receive surcharge bills from Royal Mail Revenue Protection, let us know in comments below.

Edited to add comment below from Royal Mail

“Royal Mail seeks to ensure that it is paid fairly for the services it delivers in line with our terms & conditions. We have in place protection processes that inform this and where discrepancies are found we charge a correction charge per item and an admin fee. Where there are customer queries we work to resolve these issues in line with our commitment to give high levels of customer service at all times. We are constantly reviewing ways we can accelerate our processes to resolve issues more quickly.”
– A Royal Mail spokesperson

  • hak
    2 weeks ago

    Have had this problem with Hermes for years now, making erroneous claims of items being over the declared weight; much like your equally ridiculous example above!
    I’ve since kept a copy/paste conversation I use to fight, and (eventually) always win, cases with them.

    What I don’t understand is how RM can make such a claim after an item has been accepted at the PO counter?
    I presume this just applies to stuff dumped in a Post Box or large sacks from business accounts?

  • Mark.T
    2 weeks ago

    We have gone from 1 or 2 instances per year to 20 in the last 2 months.
    Our items are under 100gms and there is no way to know if they are rejected because RM are misjudging the weight or the thickness.
    Our product is printed tissue paper and while they might sometimes be over 5mm thick when at rest, they pass easily through the slot.
    RM spec refers to passing through with a “gentle pull’ so how the heck are they measuring that with the new automated systems?

    Re: Acceptance at PO Counter – at our PO, there seems to be no distinction between the bags filled at the counter and those filled from the mail box so it is quite possible that something could be hand checked at the PO and still get surcharged by RM.

  • James
    2 weeks ago

    We are getting the same problem. Over 400 incorrect surcharges and the audacity to charge us an admin fee for their incompetence.

    We should be able to charge them an admin fee for having to do additional work to claim our money back from these thieves.

  • hak
    2 weeks ago

    Not to mention this coming hot on the heels of the High Court ruling on how they truly appallingly treated those poor postmasters/mistresses over the Horizon fiasco.
    Same arrogant and belligerent attitude all over again it would seem – Some neck on ’em!

  • Ian Billings
    2 weeks ago

    Royal Mail are doing your surcharging, Post Office Ltd were in the High Court.

    While it’s good that you know about the latter (some people STILL don’t), the two are entirely different companies.

    But sounds like the same ‘we are right and you can’t check’ situation .

  • The Horizon scandal started in 2000. The Post Office didn’t become independent from Royal Mail until 2012…. They might be entirely different companies now but they weren’t then!

  • Toby
    1 week ago

    Had a customer just the other day send me a photo of a charge request RM made them pay before delivering a item. The item was sent by rm48 ppi. Sent as a parcel and was only slightly larger than a large letter, weighing in at 145g. RM demanded £3 claiming insuffcient postage?! Buyer even sent pic with the postage label on it, so not as though it had come off.
    RM48 is a account paid service! Plus, where the hell did £3 come from?
    I took it up with the accounts dept, just a got a sorry for error and refund. No explaination as to why they demanded the fee or how it was worked out.
    At first i though it was a scam as buyer said they had to pay online, but i checked it all out and was genuine.

  • Jo
    1 week ago

    I have the same issue where there have been stating quite a few of my regular large letters are apparently parcels. The nature of our business is clothing and we have always been told that so long as you can comfortably pull the parcel through the 25mm guide then you’re ok. What parameters does the new automated service have in place to correctly determine what is a large letter and what is not based on these guidelines?

    The key gripe that I have is they are informing us more than 3 to 4 weeks later in most cases! How on earth are we supposed to be proactive in fixing in any issues if Royal Mail are wilfully allowing the punitive charges to accrue and not informing us even within a day or two?

    I know Royal Mail have been struggling financially in recent years but this just takes the biscuit!

  • bft
    1 week ago

    I had a similar experience with RM.
    They started surcharging me for shippings on 2 consecutive Sundays (I don’t ship on Sundays).
    I contacted them several times over approx 2 months before I got a reply saying that my labels were not readable by their machines so I had been charged for manually processing them. They suggested that I sent them a label so that they could tell me what was wrong (strange, because I have been using the same batch of labels for more than 2 years, with no previous problems).
    Anyway, I sent the labels in, as requested and got a reply saying that they were perfect and easily machine readable. So why the surcharges?
    It looks to me like their machine was faulty so they had to sort manually and so then charged me! No offer of refund or apology.
    I suggest RM put more effort into reducing late/missing parcels, rather than overcharging their customers.
    I am now actively moving away from them and using alternatives – Ripping off your customers has consequences.

  • Matt
    1 week ago

    We have this from time to time. We send thousands of packages a week and occasionally we find surcharges at the bottom of our bill. If you’re a business customer you can login to their online finance portal to cross reference what they’ve charged you for to see if they are correct. One week we had over 70 surcharges and all of them were for items that we correctly declared (We actually sent hundreds of those sized packages but Royal Mail only took umbrance to some of them clearly) We raised the issue with our account and regional manager and also went through their formal complaint channels but all we got was the usual brick wall.

  • Jonty
    1 week ago

    More reasons not to use Royal Fail.
    We don’t.

  • stuart
    1 week ago

    As ever my issue with this, is fine charge us if we make a mistake, the other way around when Royal Mail or another company make a mistake, say they don’t collect etc, we receive nothing.

    A level playing field is fair, sadly there never is that and when a mistake occurs, for example we had an ongoing issue with revenue protection for nearly six months, turned out our account manager had instructed us to do something wrong. It then took nearly six months to get any money back and the time involved probably out weighed the money.

    I will never know why these companies don’t scrap some of these silly sizes that people want to try and cheat on, make everyone’s life easier!

  • Postie123
    1 week ago

    I work for royal mail and though in some instances these surcharges might be wrong. I have delivered many items with incorrect weight or parcels posted under letter postage. One item said it was 1kg. It was in fact 3kg. So there are 2 sides to this story.

  • 1 week ago

    No, not too sides to every story, customers taking the piss doesn’t mean your company gets to do the same you plank, your company is supposed to be the last word on post, get your house in order and don’t charge people in error .

  • Postie 123
    1 week ago

    Get yourself in order. No need for name calling. I didnt say everyone was guilty and that errors arn’t being made . I don’t own or run the company 🙂

  • Adele roe
    1 week ago

    Chris Dawson the post office and Royal mail have always been separate companies in 2012 Royal mail got privatised it was never a part of the post office group….. Mark I think your jumping the gun a bit there he was only saying there are ppl out there who put the wrong weight on items so their postage is cheaper…… delivery and revenue are different parts of the job the posties that deliver don’t do the surcharges but its us who always get the blame and moaned at because we are on the front line

  • Adele, “The Post Office was separated from Royal Mail in 2012, and is owned by the UK Government.”


  • Mr Mr
    1 week ago

    Perhaps a separate issue but we have had huge problems with revenue protection lately. So much so we’ve been served with a termination notice if we don’t improve.

    Out of 120 mailings, we’ve been pulled 6 times. This appears to be enough to serve us with a “Stage 1 termination notice” if we don’t buck our idea’s up.

    I am bucking my idea’s up – by moving to a downstream access provider next week. Thankfully we have the volume to make it work.

    It all stems from the way I calculation my LL weights.
    My average weight is 130g, which puts me in the 100-249g bracket. So what I do is separate the weights out as two lines on OBA. A broad example below.
    Line 1 will be say 500 LL’s at 99 grams
    Line 2 will be say 25 LL’s at 750 grams. The end result, the total qty and weight across both lines is correct against my mailing, and I’m not paying over the odds for unused weight allowances.

    Now before anybody says anything, I’ve been doing this calculation for 15 years. We’ve had revenue protection pulls a number of times over the years for unrelated matters (perhaps 1-2 times per year) but not once have they disagreed with my calculation…..until 3 months ago.

    The funny thing is, their weights and counts NEVER match my own, they’re always ‘slightly’ out…and I’m running a cross check system – we count twice for assurance on our side. The morning admin team can’t explain why because it’s the night team who pulled the mail and sampled it.

    Funny enough when I asked if they could return the mail to me, they said it could ‘take days’ as I wanted to check myself, but I can’t keep my customers waiting that long. You can’t visit the Mail Centre due to COVID. So you can’t do anything about it.

    So I’ve been accused of incorrect weights/qtys on documentation. I’m using the same calculation every day, yet they only decide to pull my mailing on average every 3 weeks. Surely they should be pulling my mail every night if I’m such a risk? Surely, they’re seeing this pattern? Despite me doing nothing wrong?

    My take on it….a jobsworth at the mail centre and sometimes I get unlucky. Obviously some pulls are going through without a hitch….because I’m doing nothing wrong!

  • John Lowry
    1 week ago

    If only they were as quick to compensate for lost items or items not delivered for over a month. 2020 to 2021 saw some serious increases in charges and a decline in service. Several items never arrived and many excessively late.
    Poor service needs a proper review and accountability to customers.

  • Kerry
    1 week ago

    Ive one in house saying sender not paid enough postage.

  • Postie 123
    1 week ago

    During covid. Surcharges were not made on a lot of items. We were told it was goodwill. Not saying in case Mark Howard starts name calling again that it was on all items. They have started sending out more surcharges again recently to customers. As Adele says we are not responsible for this. We only deliver the mail. Its a job!!

  • 1 week ago

    @ Mr Mr

    If you switch to click and drop, you can have your postage labels with the correct weight on them, but only get charged for the average weight. It will automatically do what you’ve been doing all this time, but in a way that won’t get you any bother from revenue protection.

  • Jennifer Norton
    1 week ago

    Just received 2 of these charges Daily Mail promotion of Sutton seeds weighing hardly anything yet had to pay an extra £1.50 on each .

  • Daz
    1 week ago

    I have just checked our recent invoice and have indeed found a few of these surcharges over the past few months, after doing some checking on reports RM are stating items that I know weigh 300 grams are over 750grams when RM have checked, this is 100% impossible. I guess that Royal Mail were hoping to try and add these surcharges without anyone noticing and hope that you don’t complain because Royal Mail are terrible sorting this type of thing out.

    Royal Mail are on a slippery slope, once they start surcharging for items in hope that you don’t notice to try and squeeze a few extra pounds from each customer the trust will soon be lost, for the people that have not received these charges yet, don’t worry you will get them soon…

  • Robert
    1 week ago

    As a postie l get companies sending 2 items ( letters and parcels) nearly every day with the same numbers i.e. same labels on different items , so some ARE taking the Mick!

  • Royal mail are highway robbers, over charging for a second rate service,all my large letter posts are checked with a royal mail letter guide plate and weighed.

  • Annie
    1 week ago

    Well the solution is simple.
    STOP using the online service and use your local post office. Not only you are helping the local business but also your item will get checked by size and weight so you pay the right price.

  • Post Office is only an option for small quantities – if you’ve got 50 parcels a day (let alone sellers that have 100s or even 1000s per day) it’s just not realistic.

  • Paul
    1 week ago

    A number of Post Offices can handle 100’s of parcels a day, I know my 2 do, using drop and go of which we have about 30-40 businesses signed up. No issues with surcharges this way!

  • Stefan
    1 week ago

    Number of items of mail that we have to sort out with incorrect payment or post codes are huge. Many ppl just do not know what correct post stamp should be used when they mail their post. As postman in sorting office I see that every day. Little bit of more care on senders side would make everyone’s life easier.

  • RockFrog
    1 week ago

    So what solution would all you complainants propose? Be realistic with the amount of items processed by Royal Mail. How do you propose items are processed correctly and fairly for all to stop anyone being ripped off?

  • John Anderson
    1 week ago

    I’ve worked in a P.O. for years, the amount of incorrectly priced prepaid items I see daily is huge, but is what’s worse when I correct them is even worse, with answer like it fits in my letter box, no that’s not how the size guide works, frightening.

    The ones that are thrown into the box are then obviously caught by revenue protection.

    The simple solution for a lot of folk is to just to leave the postage for the P.O. staff to put on.

  • Horsley post Office
    1 week ago

    To be honest we get so many customers who wrongly declared weight and size of course then they will pay less. Even after few refusals still we get the same customers do the same mistakes. In fact at post office we still need to check the weight and size even though they have prepaid online. Some customers says we are trying to overcharge them at counter but they checked it online and it was only the price that they have paid. Some people says eBay doesn’t let them declare weight. It’s a total time waste for us and customers. I would say branch is best so we can check and measure your parcels and give you appropriate service. You get few pence cheeper online it’s because you are using your own printer , Ink and paper to print the label but that few pence is actually our revenue which we are loosing even though we do the same amount of work that we do it at counter.

  • Linou
    1 week ago

    I just got a few items sent back to me with a ‘insufficient’ charge. I pay letter 85p first class as my products are tiny and less than 100g. Purely in regulation with what Royal Mail says on their website.
    Hence it’s really frustrating and often I don’t know how to claim to them that I was compliant to their rules …

  • SD
    1 week ago

    I work in a post office branch and the amount of incorrectly priced items is increasing weekly. Wrong weight, wrong size format. I guess the ones being surcharged are the ones being put in the post box unchecked.

  • 1 week ago

    There are numerous sellers trying it on.

    Sending large letter as normal letter being an example…

    Royal Mail need to make money and sadly the two line averaging example in these replies show how people misuse the system.

  • Tracy
    1 week ago

    How do you know if it is real or a scam. There are a lot out there stating that there is extra to pay. I certainly won’t pay online because of the scams.

  • Our mail was collected, it was a quiet day with one sack being presented. A day later I was notified by revenue protection that I had not declared around 47kg of mail and was charged nearly £300 for it. They had clearly included another companies mail with mine and charged me for it. I made a compliant providing cctv of our single bag being collected along with the drivers statement confirming there was only the one sack. I was simply told the mail had been processed so I did not have the opportunity to dispute it and the charges stood.

  • 1 week ago

    All the large letters items here are sent in those PIP boxes and I’ve never seen any underpayment surcharges on the invoices from RM.

    The boxes vary from supplier to supplier, but usually are at least 2mm under the 25mm maximum thickness, once the box is constructed and packed. That means items up to 20mm thick can safely go large letter and unlike poly mailing bags or jiffy bags, there’s no danger of the product bunching up inside and making it over 25mm.

    I’ve noticed with some items I’m familar with, other sellers must be using large letter (assuming they’re making a profit) even though they’re only just under 25mm without packaging. But if you try and put a 23mm thick item in a jiffy bag and they test it, it’s unlikely to pass. You’ve just got to be realistic about it.

    As for the suggestions of use a post office, it’s a lot more expensive than you think when compared with RM24 or RM48. It can easily cost £1000s extra per year for a small business.

  • victor
    1 week ago

    royal mails multitudes of product and service options , price and size
    are always going to cause problems

  • Josh Clarke
    1 week ago

    Whilst a level playing field is good and taking action against RM customers abusing the system is needed, the means does not justify the end. A number of forums are proving with examples that legitimate responsible RM customers are being surcharged heavily for accurately presented mail, due to technology that is incapable of accurately weighing &/or measuring mail.

    The same forums quote complaints being buried and ignored by the Royal Mail who some may argue appear to have a high level policy of denial of any issues with the change of Revenue Protection from human beings to machines. The machines are bringing in incorrectly surcharged money faster than Primark’s tills after the lockdown reopening of retail.

    The Royal Mail’s shareholders may get a one off dividend but legitimate victims of this new technology are jumping ship to alternative providers in a deregulated market, rather than being held to ransom by out of control poorly implemented technology.

    The Horizon miscarriage of justice, clearly shows the collateral damage of introducing new technology with allegedly known faults.

    Alan Turing “It seems probable that once the machine thinking method had started, it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers… They would be able to converse with each other to sharpen their wits. At some stage, therefore, we should have to expect the machines to take control.”

  • 1 week ago

    We have been issued our first 3 surcharges ever this week .
    I personally weigh all our products and know for a fact that they are just under the maximum category weight. Have now had 3 x 2kg parcels they claim weigh between 28g and 35g over the 2000g limit. This can’t be as I check each parcel.
    I check my scales are calibrated as we sell herbs and spices by the gram and would go bust if our scales were that badly out.

    Royal Mail is pulling is fast one here.

    The charges for what they claim are around 30g to 40g over are completely excessive. Charging us admin + medium parcel rates.

    Is time sellers got together to bring Group litigation against the monopolistic Royal Mail for its discussing behaviour.

    In the meantime we have moved back to marketplace postage via eBay and Amazon. I have been told by our local sorting office that non account postage is harder for royal mail to collect fees from now especially with the surge in scams. Hopefully we can continue as before with over 1,000 packages posted this year and no known surcharges.

  • I use click and drop I have a account with royal mail
    The problem I have is its average weight declared, I hadn’t noticed the prices as I do have a lot of packages to send out, however I had been quite quiet mainly because of seasonal items.
    when I checked the days amount I thought this cant be right, The postage amount was higher than the items for instance I had 20 x large letters average weight was 60 to 100g and 3 x Average weight was around 160 to 250g, I also had parcels but these are charged separately.
    when I printed my manifest it said large letter average weight declared 103g so this meant I paid for the 250g size large letter for the 23 packages 20 should have been 100g price if you get my drift, on this price VAT is charged and a 4% surcharge.
    I was so annoyed that I did contact royal mail and explained that they must have stolen thousands of pounds from me over the years and I have got a good mind to contact ofcom. I did get a response but only explaining there prices and no justification on why they do this as I had asked for this, Now my emails are getting ignored.
    What I am doing now is separate batches on separate manifests so all my 100g large letter are on a separate manifest as is the 250g and so one this takes longer but This way I am being charged the correct amount for all my packages.
    dose any one else know how this works because I cant see how you can save money using this service.

  • Absolutely shocking and we have just had £250 of Admin/surcharges for items over 2kg, some of which are items weighing less than 500g and we only have 10+ items out of 7000 that we sell which weigh over 2kg.
    No response to the disputes on each invoice so we are looking at cancelling the DD as its now over £700 on last 3 invoices (20% if total charges)
    In short term we will switch back to PPI and in 7 years never had any surcharges for incorrect postage but over £1000 in past 5 weeks

  • Jonty
    6 days ago

    Notice the trend for Royal Fail? Everything declared is either at weight or above weight. I bet nobody on here has had unexpectedly low invoices for mail that they know has been worked out as undercharged at RM end. It’s either gross incompetence or a scam.
    Complete and utter disgrace. Shameful.

  • Jonny Ola
    6 days ago

    First to,e we had back in March and have just noticed it on the invoice

    We had 100 or so items on ebay we sent using Oba
    They were light items and send with a000 jiffy bags.
    All were under 25grams.
    Sent as rm48 large letter and always been like this for 5 years.

    They’ve put a surcharge and deemed 7 of these as over 750g.

    Perplexed. New Horizon scandal alert!

  • 5 days ago

    Ive been charged £323.29 for ppi 1st class (BPL UNG UNH) non declared items
    for two days.
    How is this even possible, ive not been trading for a year and not sent any post out.
    Ive complained and complained and had offical complaint in for over two months now without resolve.
    Ive given evidence of bank ,ebay, website and paypal transactions over periods of whole year showing no sales.
    This is ridiculous we only use one envelope one type of product and its always same.
    If i dont get a resolve soon and my monies back im gong to record this as a fraud with police and go to small claims court.
    I have suspected something wrong with system for a while before march beginning of pandemic we would get charges on our OBA account for non scanned barcode so we did some tests on certain days we checked every mail item measured printed barcode and position and put them through a microscope to make sure ink is perfect for scanning and low and behold some would be non scanned again and charged at about 00.05p surcharge but with the new charges im seeing people complaining about it wont be viable to send when i do come back
    The royal mail are not fit for purpose its that simple

  • Hey JohnS, I wonder if someone has got your PPI imprint and is using your licence to send their mail? Certainly wouldn’t be the first time this has happened

  • Gav
    4 days ago

    @ Peter Alexander Roberts

    A different “problem” to everyone else, but not really a problem at all.

    In your case, you’ve already found one way to stop your LL average weight being dragged upwards, by splitting the manifest. But there are other ways of doing it.

    You can use other shipping methods to send heavier items. I have it set up so those significantly heavier LLs go RM24, with the rest going RM48. Depending on what sells on any given day, it just gets balanced out so RM48 ends under 100g average and RM24 will usually be under 250g. The same applies to parcels, though the goal is to keep it under 1kg for both RM24 and 48.

    It might sound like using RM24 in that way costs more, but that’s where “free” P&P comes in. Free P&P is really (if you’re doing it right) actually built in P&P. That means when buyers buy multiple items, they’re paying multiple P&P too. Use that extra P&P to cover moving items over to RM24. What they’ve paid more than covers it.

    The other thing you can do is find items you can add for sale that are very light. This is more helpful with parcels than large letters, as the difference is greater with parcels, but it works on both. To look at your example if what happened when you went over, if you had sold just a few items that day that had been 25g large letter, you would have been under 100g. That’s all it would have taken.

    Average weight has saved my business £1000s per year since I switched to it. You’ve just got to do it right to get that benefit. Find the way that works for you.

  • Alan Peterson
    3 days ago

    Add us to the list of business customers who have been incorrectly surcharged.

    Raised via usual channels and customer services closed case despite proof.

    No refund no apology.

    Then escalated complaint to our ‘regional manager’ who fobbed us off and said that they do not have access to the finance department and all they are here for is to provide us rates to grow our business. Basically non-existent. No idea what responsibilities if any they are accountable for.

    @Chris Dawson:

    Is there a union for business customers. It is all and well voicing our opinions and sharing experiences on this great platform. However, to make a tangible difference and truly contribute we businesses need a support system to address these issues and hold these large companies to account.

    If there is no infrastructure, regulation or law that will exercise our commercial rights this behaviour will continue.

    It is sad that there are no laws or regulations being enforced. It is the wild west dog eat dog.

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