UK DMers, Periodicals Publishers Oppose Royal Mail's Size Proposal

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Mailers in the United Kingdom have come out against Royal Mail's request to UK postal regulator Postcomm this week that it be able to price mail by size rather than by weight.

Royal Mail said its proposal would introduce a fairer, simpler pricing system that more accurately reflects the costs of handling mail. For example, items that cannot be machine-sorted or that take up more space in mailbags cost more to handle.

"Most letters and cards wouldn't cost any more to post," said David Dale, Royal Mail's head of size-based pricing. "In fact, 74 percent of the mail would be totally unaffected. And this isn't an increase in our prices. Overall, the proposals are revenue-neutral for Royal Mail."

Postage for light but large or unusually shaped mail items likely would rise while the cost to ship small but heavier items would drop.

The Direct Marketing Association UK called the proposal unfair to direct marketers.

"Direct mail makes up 20 percent of Royal Mail volume, and the biggest growth for direct mail is large [envelopes]. So it seems we're being penalized because Royal Mail hasn't invested in the right machines to handle these large envelopes," David Robottom, DMA UK director of postal affairs and industry development, said in the UK Daily DM Bulletin.

The Periodical Publishers Association also said it had deep concerns about Royal Mail's plan because it introduces subjective measures for pricing.

"When a mailing cost of many thousands of pounds can be doubled on the apparent whim of a Royal Mail frontline operator who judges whether a product is sufficiently flat or flexible, then there is just too much room for individual decision," PPA chief executive Ian Locks said.

Locks said that introduction of subjectivity to a pricing policy "has to leave open the possibility of abuse -- and that, surely, is something no one would wish to encourage."

Consultation on the proposal will have two stages, Postcomm said, with the first focusing on the consequences for customers. As part of this first stage, Postcomm wants feedback on implementation issues. The deadline for responses to the first consultation is July 27.

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