Royal Mail Says Pricing in Proportion Program Runs Smoothly On Day 1

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Despite some reports to the contrary, Royal Mail said Aug. 21 that there was no sign of the "chaos" some had forecast over the introduction of new postage pricing changes.

Beginning Aug. 21, postage for mail weighing up to 1 kilogram in Britain is based on size as well as weight so that prices better reflect the costs of collecting, sorting and delivering mail. This is called Pricing in Proportion.

In general, Royal Mail's new pricing scheme, Pricing in Proportion, means mail is priced in three size formats: letters, large letters and packets.

While Postwatch, the consumer watchdog for the postal service in Britain, said it understands the need for the new charges, it added a recent survey it sponsored shows that post offices around the country had not done enough to communicate the plan.

As a result, the group said, it is concerned that today's big change may not be fully understood by all customers and confusion amongst residential customers and small businesses could lead to unnecessarily long queues at post offices.

In the first week of August, Postwatch surveyed post offices throughout Britain to examine the efforts branches were making to alert customers to the new program.

Of the 307 post offices Postwatch visited, 34 percent did not have a measuring template displayed, 37 percent were not displaying a PiP poster and 32 percent did not have PiP leaflets available.

Britain has 14,000 post offices in total.

Postwatch also expressed disappointment at the lack of rebates for small and medium enterprises or any legal requirement for Royal Mail to lessen the impact the changes may have on some businesses.

Royal Mail said the findings were not surprising since the survey was conducted before the distribution of posters and leaflets to post office branches had been completed.

In addition, Royal Mil said Aug. 21 that reports coming from post office branches around Britain consistently showed customers managing the changes with no difficulties getting information about the new prices, and that Post Office branches are equipped with leaflets, posters and templates. Also, the vast majority of customers are being served at counters well within 5 minutes in even the busiest and largest branches, Royal Mail claimed.

Royal Mail said its $18 million communications plan is working, with messages about the changes being delivered to Britain's 27 million addresses.

With the PiP program, compact, heavy items generally cost the same or less to send, Royal Mail said, while light but bulky items that are more difficult to process generally will cost more.

Though some prices will increase, more than 85 percent of all business mail will stay the same price or be cheaper to send. The changes will generate no further revenue for Royal Mail.

Royal Mail Business customers, who post more than 90 percent of all mail, will find that two-thirds of the mail they post will be cheaper. And small businesses that use franking machines or Printed Postage Impression (PPI) envelopes are getting a further 1-pence discount on their basic First and Second Class mail.

PiP applies only to "domestic" postage -- items posted within and to destinations in Britain. Royal Mail's international mail services are not affected.

Other countries already use PiP, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Japan and Germany.

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