Fourteen parts of the UK will begin receiving only one mail delivery a day, instead of two, starting today.
Royal Mail, a division of Consigna, the British Post Office, plans to extend this change across the country by October 2003. Consignia said the move will save $539 million a year by abolishing its twice-a-day mail service. The company said the second delivery accounts for about 20 percent of delivery costs, but only carries 4 percent of Britain's mail.
In the 14 pilot areas, customers can guarantee receiving their mail before 9 a.m. by paying $21 a week.
The British Chambers of Commerce reacted with anger to the announcement, however, and claimed it will threaten British competitiveness to charge small firms to receive post before 9 a.m.
“Business recognizes that Royal Mail is experiencing problems. However, it cannot shift these problems onto small businesses,” said Sally Low, the chamber's head of policy. “A check arriving in the mail before 9 a.m. or after noon can mark the difference between a firm surviving or folding.”