Royal Mail fails to deliver on service as stamp prices rise

On the 23 March 2020 the cost of postage stamps goes up yet again. And it will be by a staggering amount too.

  • A first-class stamp for a standard letter will rise by 6p from 70p to 76p.
  • A second-class stamp for a standard letter will rise by 4p from 61p to 65p.
  • A first-class stamp for a large letter will rise by 9p from £1.06 to £1.15.
  • A second-class stamp for a large letter will rise by 5p from 83p to 88p.

The rise is vastly over the rate of inflation (currently 1.8%).

One wonders if Royal Mail would have put the price up even more had Ofcom not imposed a price cap? The 65p second-class stamp is the maximum possible under the current price cap.

red post box

Royal Mail said that the changes are necessary to help ensure the sustainability of the one-price-goes-anywhere Universal Service. But it says a similar thing every year and yet we don’t see any improvements in service! Perhaps, if they kept the price down, people would use the postal service more. And yet again, of course, it is the vulnerable who are the hardest hit as more of the elderly rely on snail mail rather than using email and couriers.

Stephen Agar, managing director of letters at Royal Mail, said: “We are operating in a tough market at present, under the threat of making a loss by 2021.” But why are they threatened with making a loss? Is it because they keep wasting money? I reported on the stamp price rise last year in Avoiding a right Royal Fail at the Royal Mail which talked about the poor service, lack of strategy and changes in service. Nothing much has changed since then. It appears that Royal Mail again needs to put up prices to cover repeated mistakes by its management.

I reported that there seemed little cohesion of national policy and procedure implementation. There is no strategic vision as different offices can operate in different ways. Really basic stuff! Making decisions which are quickly overturned over and over again such as posties being on foot, then their own cars, then trolley boxes, then bikes and then in pairs in vans. All this over just a few years. Ridiculous, and shows just how poor the leadership at Royal Mail is.

Royal Mail was privatised in 2013 and wants to be seen as working to keep costs down for consumers and making service improvements. But it needs to do a lot more work, listen to consumers and stop repeating mistakes and wasting money!

For anyone interested, here’s a table showing the effect of price increases over the last decade.

Cost of second class stamps             Cost of first class stamps 

Year cost % rise on previous year Year cost % rise on previous year
2009 30p 2009 39p
2010 32p 6.67% 2010 41p 5.13%
2011 36p 12.50% 2011 46p 12.20%
2012 50p 38.89% 2012 60p 30.43%
2013 50p 0% 2013 60p 0%
2014 53p 6% 2014 62p 3.33%
2015 54p 1.89% 2015 63p 1.61%
2016 55p 1.85% 2016 64p 1.58%
2017 56p 1.82% 2017 65p 1.56%
2018 58p 3.57% 2018 67p 3%
2019 61p 5.17% 2019 70p 4.47%
2020 65p 6.5% 2020 76p 8.5%

[ Full details of all price rises can be found on the Royal Mail website. ]