British Stamps News & Articles

Royal Mail Underpaid Penalty Fees Prove a Nice Little Earner

The Daily Mail are reporting that, based on figures they obtained using a Freedom of Information request, total income from penalty fees due to incorrect postage rose by 49 per cent in the year after the changes to letter size pricing came into effect. This increased the Royal Mail's penalty charge income to £14.8million in the year 2007-08 and then up to £16.5million in year 2008-09.

Many recipients of underpaid mail are now surprised to find that they have to go to sorting offices to pick up underpaid mail addressed to them and also have to pay a £1 "administration fee" in addition to the underpaid postage. This is a far cry from the days of Postage Due Stamps when mail would still be delivered and more modest penalties collected by posties.

Royal Mail Postage Due Stamps are no longer in use
Royal Mail Withdrew Postage Due Stamps in 1994

Consumer groups have been complaining that the £1 penalty charge is too high and amounts to profiteering rather than cost covering. On the other hand, Royal Mail claims it does not profit from the administration fees collected on underpaid mail saying they simply reflect the extra work involved.

The Daily Mail claim that Royal Mail tried to keep the amount it has made from penalty charges secret as they first requested figures before Christmas 2008 but met with repeated refusals before turning to the Freedom of Information Act. Apparently Royal Mail still refused to part with the numbers claiming commercial confidentiality and it was only after a successful appeal to the Office of the Information Commissioner that the details were finally made available.

Learn more about British Postage Due Stamps 1914-1994

Read the full report at the Daily Mail Website

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Royal Mail Underpaid Penalty Fees Prove a Nice Little Earner

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