In tune with my socialist leanings, I'm normally in favour of state-owned companies and organisations, which despite their (sometimes many) failings, usually have their hearts in the right place. However my generosity of spirit has been strained to breaking point this week with the latest Post Office mail increases.
I can absolutely understand that it takes some doing to get a package from Land's End to John O'Groats for the same cost as sending a package from two towns 20 miles apart, and consider that in many respects we have a postal service second to none in the world.
And this is a big HOWEVER, the new postal prices beggar belief.
From yesterday, any packet weighing up to 750grams will cost a flat rate of £2.70 to travel First Class. Last week I was able to send the majority of my packets (which are almost always 250g or less) for £1.58. That an increase of almost 71%!!!
A few years back, before Royal Mail abandoned charging purely by weight, and switched to a combination of size and weight, that same package used to cost 36 pence! Even allowing for the interim inflation that's a whopping increase over just a few years of 650%
Our miniatures weigh very little, but they are generally fairly fragile, so simply popping them in a jiffy bag and hoping for the best just isn't feasible. If they aren't in kit form before they go off, they almost certainly will be in kit form by the time they're delivered. So we take great care with our packaging and have the added expense of buying in strong, protective postal boxes, in various sizes, as well as packaging materials - tissue paper, bubble wrap, parcel tapes etc, all of which have been rising in price in recent years.
Then there are the costs of actually getting to the Post Office, which for us is a 6 mile round trip by car. With fuel costs spirally upwards we no longer pop to the Post Office every day and instead make the journey once, or at most twice a week.
There is also the incredible anomaly that it often costs less for me to post a package to San Francisco, halfway round the world, than it does to send a similar package to Eastbourne, 20 miles along the road.
Crazy doesn't come close.....
For the past 3 years our postage and packing charges to our customers have remained static and we've absorbed the price rises in postage and packaging materials. However yesterday's rise was a step too far, and we simply can't afford to do so any longer. Therefore we have reluctantly raised our P&P charges by £1 to UK addresses, and £0.50 to International addresses.
These UK rates are for First Class post, but if required we can also offer Second Class post by arrangement. Not that it seems to make much difference to the speed with which packages are delivered. As I discovered this morning when I went online to check that a valuable insured package, which I had posted on Friday, using 'guaranteed' Saturday delivery, and which cost an eye-watering £11.10, had actually been delivered on Saturday.
No, it hadn't. It had been delivered yesterday, at 11.13 in the morning. That's a full 24 hours late allowing for the fact that there are no Sunday deliveries.
This was the final straw. This morning it has taken me over an hour trawling through the Royal Mail's labyrinthine website, trying to find out how to claim back the cost of the failed 'on time' delivery. They don't make it easy, assuming perhaps that most people will eventually shrug, give up and move on. However my hackles were well and truly up, so I persevered and eventually managed to find the correct 2 page form, which I then had to print out using my own paper and printer ink (needless to say, both forms featured several big, black, printed blocks), fill in by hand and post back to them, along with proof of posting, receipts etc.
What a bloody palaver.
I'm also going to condense the contents of this blog post and include it in a covering letter.
Signed with my blood.