OBSERVER: Is the cost of postage stamping out mail?

IT’S getting to that time of the year when we start thinking about getting our Christmas cards ready.

Once upon a time we didn’t think twice about sending the cards by post but now, with postage rates having gone up, and looking at the price of a second class stamp possibly being more than what was paid for the card, people must be wondering if it’s worth it.

A recent letter from Royal Mail’s delivery manager for this area – based in Plymouth? – draws attention to the fact that the service is being reorganised and in some cases we may not get a delivery until after lunch.

The telling comment in the letter is: “Unfortunately, fewer letters are now posted every day.”

Is the reason there are now fewer letters posted possibly something to do with the price of the stamp?

A stamp collecting colleague, who is also interested in postal history, reminds me that less than 25 years ago the postage rate for a 2nd class stamp was 14p and for a 1st class 19p. Compare this with the current 36p for 2nd class and 46p for 1st class. And for the large letter rate the comparison is 37p for 2nd and 44p for 1st class in 2006 to 58p and 75p now.

A business has to make money and Royal Mail is no different, but surely by putting the prices up so much is the reason they are getting the reaction of customers not using the service so much. As far as Christmas is concerned why not have a cheaper rate for cards? In fact, I believe it was done several years ago.

My colleague also tells me also that in 1988 Royal Mail had eight special issues at an average cost of about £1 a set; in 2010 there were 16 special issues with an average cost of about £4.11 a set! Bearing in mind Royal Mail offer no service to collectors other than selling them the stamps, that must be quite a nice profit.

And it’s already been announced there will be a programme of about 16 ‘special’ issues next year and there’s also the possibility of further ‘special’ issues if the country does well in the Olympics.