Watchdog says Royal Mail’s redirection service unfairly penalises unmarried couples and spouses who keep their own names

Royal Mail’s redirection service is an important offer to consumers yet its pricing structure is unfair, outdated and too costly, Citizens Advice says.

Citizens Advice is urging Royal Mail to change the cost of mail redirections from a “per surname” to a “per household” basis.

By charging per surname, a couple with different surnames would be charged double for the mail redirection service, penalising unmarried couples and spouses who keep their own names. This goes for children and elderly relatives with different surnames to the householders as well.

The UK is out of step internationally with this practice, with the Netherlands being the only other country in Europe to do so that the charity was able to analyse. Adding the cost of just 1 additional surname makes it more expensive than any other country, according to the same analysis.

Citizens Advice found that more than half (55%) of people who have moved house within the last two years live with at least one person who has a different surname to them.

Citizens Advice, the statutory consumer advocate for postal services, compared the cost of the mail redirection service over the past 6 years to other services.

The charity found that since 2012, the price of a 3-month redirection has increased by 74%, while 2nd class stamps have only gone up 12%.

Currently, consumers pay an upfront fee per last name for the mail redirection service based on the length of time they want to use it. There are 3 packages available:

  • Up to 3 months –   £33.99

  • Up to 6 months –   £46.99

  • Up to 12 months – £66.99

Of those Citizens Advice surveyed, 1 in 4 (26%) cited the price as one of the reasons why they didn’t take out the service last time they moved.

Citizens Advice is also calling for Royal Mail to make their mail redirection service more affordable, by offering an option to pay in monthly installments for those who can’t afford a one-off payment and concessionary rates for consumers on the lowest incomes.

More than 8 out of 10 (84%) consumers think Royal Mail should ensure its redirection service is affordable for people who need to use it.

The same survey found those who did pay for mail redirection were highly satisfied with the service they received.

According to the Office of National Statistics, around 1 in 3 (32%) families have “non-traditional” structures outside the married heterosexual couple, such as cohabiting opposite sex couples, same-sex couples and lone parent families – all of whom may have different surnames.

Research from Citizens Advice found almost 1 in 5 (19%) people have problems with their mail when moving. This was higher amongst vulnerable groups, including disabled people and those on benefits. Not getting important mail can sometimes have severe consequences, such as falling behind on bill payments, missing medical letters or even becoming a victim of identity fraud.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Many people rely on Royal Mail’s redirection service yet it’s designed for households of the past.

“Consumers are facing a double whammy. Royal Mail has drastically increased the price of redirection over the years, but hasn’t changed its outdated price structure that assumes families always share the same surname.

“We’re calling on Royal Mail to change its mail redirection service to no longer charge per surname within the same household. As the dedicated universal service provider, it has a duty to make sure this service is fair and affordable.”

Royal Mail faces strike threat after pension scheme closure

Royal Mail is facing the threat of industrial action following its decision to close its defined benefit pension scheme, affecting 90,000 members.

The privatised UK postal operator announced on Thursday that its £7.4bn defined benefit scheme will close to future accruals after March 2018, saying that “there is no affordable solution to keeping the plan open in its current form”.

Source: Royal Mail faces strike threat after pension scheme closure

Royal Mail shares hit after sharp drop in letter volumes

From the Financial Times:

Shares in Royal Mail dropped more than 5 per cent after the group reported a drop in letters delivered before the festive period as business uncertainty in the UK hit junk mailings.

Rising parcel numbers failed to make up for the chronic decline in paper-based correspondence at the postal service’s core British business, pushing the division’s revenue down 2 per cent in the nine months ending on Christmas Day.

Read the full story: Royal Mail shares hit after sharp drop in letter volumes

Royal Mail’s Moya Greene reaps another £1.5 million pay package

Royal Mail has awarded its chief executive Moya Greene an annual pay package of £1.5m, similar to last year, and made some changes to its pay policy for the coming years to satisfy major shareholders.

1152The company, privatised in two share offerings in 2013 and 2015, has came under fire in recent years for the pay packages handed to Greene, including a 13% rise in total remuneration last year. Its latest annual report (pdf) shows that Greene is being paid £1.529m this year, compared with £1.522m in 2015.

The 500-year-old postal delivery company stressed that last year was the only time Greene’s pay had been increased since she joined in July 2010. In that period, the pay of postmen and women had gone up by 11%.

Source: Royal Mail’s Moya Greene reaps another £1.5m pay package | Business | The Guardian

Union urges ‘Yes’ to 1.6% Royal Mail offer

From the Communication Workers Union:

Union leaders will be recommending acceptance of a one-year, no-strings-attached pay increase achieved during national negotiations with Royal Mail.

The proposal, which has met with the approval of the union’s industrial executive, is fully consolidated and will lift basic pay by 1.6 per cent for all CWU-represented grades within the business apart from Romec and Quadrant, whose pay awards are negotiated separately.

Backdated to April 4th 2016 for weekly-paid staff and to April 1st 2016 for monthly-paid, the increase flows through to all pay supplements, skills and unsocial attendance allowances, London Weighting, Scottish Distant Island allowance, overtime and scheduled attendance rates and matches the March 2016 retail price index (RPI), keeping members’ earnings up with the cost of living.

Acting deputy general secretary (postal) Ray Ellis, said: “The view of the pay negotiating team, endorsed by the postal executive at its meeting yesterday, is that the offer represents an acceptable conclusion to the 2016 pay talks that meets the policies we have adopted for a clean, one-year, no-strings deal.

“The offer will therefore be recommended for acceptance in an individual members’ ballot, which opens on June 9th and closes on the 30th.”

Royal Mail buys digital businesses to spur growth

The Financial Times reports that Royal Mail is acquiring or investing in small ecommerce and technology startups:

royalmailThe FTSE 100 group has made several acquisitions since the start of last year, from a mobile fashion app to a start-up selling software for online retailers in China.

While the deals are modest in size, they illustrate how Royal Mail, which was privatised in 2013, is sowing seeds in new areas that it hopes will provide future revenue growth.

“They’re buying innovative software and expertise,” says Robin Byde, analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald.

“It all speaks to the issue of declining core mail but is also a response to growing ecommerce flows. They’re positioning themselves in the plumbing space for the global supply chain.”

Source: Royal Mail buys digital businesses to spur growth –

Royal Mail escapes price caps after Ofcom says service working well

Royal Mail will escape new price controls after the communications and regulator declared the universal postal system was working in its current form.

4000The company has been the subject of an Ofcom investigation following concerns that it no longer had competition in the delivery of letters when rival Whistl withdrew from the market.

Publishing the initial findings of its review, launched in July last year, the regulator said it would not impose new price caps on Royal Mail.

“Given the declining letters market, and increased competition in parcels, Ofcomis not proposing to impose new price controls on Royal Mail’s wholesale or retail products.”

It added: “The universal postal service is financially sustainable, while current rules and safeguards for people and businesses who use post are generally working well.”

Source: Royal Mail escapes price caps after Ofcom says service working well | Business | The Guardian