In this age of digital delivery

In this age of digital delivery – emails, Tweets, instant messaging – it is still good practice to send letters, and nice to receive them. There are so many spam emails that have to be filtered through on a daily basis, even with the best spam filters on the market. So, to send a letter adds a bit more of that personal touch.

However it is not as simple as it should be with rules on letter sizes and weights being interpreted by different people within the Post Office! We sent a mailing out recently using C5 envelopes with a single sheet of A4 paper in and a small flat pack of Haribo sweets. The envelope was weighed at 30g in total and had a depth that did fit through the ‘letter’ slot of the Post Office guides. So second class stamps were attached and the letters taken to the Post Office counter to finally verify that the ‘letters’ were just that – letters and not small packages. All was accepted over the counter and the letters were posted.

The letters in question were introductions to a targeted mailing list of only 40 recipients.  After the personalisation, and checking of the whole communication, it came as a surprise when complaints started arriving. Apparently, the letters in question did not have enough postage and potential clients had to pay £1.19 to receive them – not a good start to a relationship! It further transpired that some letters were delivered. All 40 were aimed at a very small geographic area. So whilst one sorting office accepted and delivered the item, the one 3 miles away didn’t. So how can you be assured that letters will arrive?

The Royal Mail states that Second Class Mail must be less than 100g, no more than 5mm thick and up to C5 in size. That width seems harsh given it’s perfectly possible to have a 3-sheet letter and good quality envelope breaking 5mm. But the issue comes when you have most of the core parameters met (weight has to be top you’d think!) but perhaps the thickness is 6mm? What if something shifts; a previously flat pack of sweets bunches up? No allowance made.

The issues have to be that there isn’t consistency that you can rely on. In the past, the Royal Mail had a single set of rules and appeared to adhere to them across the country. Or put another way, the brand delivery was national. Not anymore though, and the inconsistencies means brand values are damaged, quality is variable and in short, the product is devalued at a time when the price is escalating and incredible rates; justified by the way, by what others charge elsewhere in the world. When did that rule ever apply? Cheap fuel in Europe; is the price matched in the UK? No. Same price for the same car in Japan as in Durham? No. Canadian mail prices are massively higher than the UK; why don’t we just hike ours to their level? It’s the dumbest form of economics, and when laid against the brand values, is unjustifiable.

So, from the rather minor poignancy of a messed-up 40-piece mailer, I’ve got to the macro economic issues of the next “to be privatised” national company. Easy really, once you’ve experienced the joys of the product in the micro-world. And what next? Well, I guess we will have to try that other sure-fire communication tool, the telephone. Now, where’s my BT share certificate….? Where’s the signal best from; the end of the road, or with arm stuck out of window? Mmmmn…. start training pigeons me-thinks.