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Being an avid eBay seller means that I have to visit the post office everyday or so to send my items off to their buyers. I need a reliable service that will get my parcels safe and sound to their destination. Royal Mail provides this service - but not 100% of the time.
WHEN DID ROYAL MAIL START? In 1635, King Charles I opened Royal Mail to the public. Letters would be delivered to the recipient by a post-boy on a horse back and fore across the country and the recipient would have to pay the delivery charge (at the time 2d = 0.8p). In 1661 the first postal stamps were invented, to stop the post-boys delaying the mail. Up until the 1800's mail had to be sent and collected from mail houses but in 1853 post boxes were introduced to stop the long, arduous walk many had to take to get to the mail houses. Only in 1897 did mail become free to receive, in celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
WHAT IS ROYAL MAIL? The Royal Mail is a brand of The Royal Mail Group Plc. They deliver 82 million items each day to 27 million addresses across the UK. With the rise of people internet shopping, I'm sure this figure will rise in years to come.
WHAT SERVICES DO THEY OFFER? The most frequently used service they provide will probably be First Class Delivery. At the moment it costs just 30p to send a letter or parcel weighing up to 60g in the UK, although the cost does normally rise each year. In my experience an item sent First class will normally arrive at its destination the next day but it depends on the time you sent it and the pick-up time at the post office. I think 30p is great value for money to send an item anywhere in the UK. Second class is cheaper at 21p but takes 3-4 days to be delivered. Personally, I don't see the point in second class post - OK, so you are saving 9p, but why not pay it and get the item to the recipient sooner therefore making them happier. Also, I think it gives a bad impression when sending an item like a job application 2nd class, as it seems that you can't be bothered to spend that extra 9p to get it there sooner.
As a seller on eBay, I frequently use 1st Class post to send my parcels and I haven't had a problem or complaint yet. Instead of using stamps most post offices have now taken to using adhesive stickers or printed postage stickers. I find that these are handy when sending items in padded/jiffy bags as they don't fall off - customers won't be happy if they are charged for postage at their end. Standard parcels can be sent from £3.60 (max 1kg) but I've never used this service as I don't send items that heavy.
For more valuable items Recorded or special delivery can be chosen. With Recorded delivery the item needs to be signed for at its destination by the recipient - it costs a little more than normal delivery(66p) but you can be rest assured that the item will arrive safely. The only time that it has been different was on one occasion last year. I'd bought an mp3 player from an eBay seller in Hong Kong and when the postman arrived I signed for the parcel, not noticing that the bag was practically open and I took it inside. When I opened what was left to open of the jiffy bag and opened the box EVERYTHING had been taken. Whether the seller hadn't put the item in or the postman stole it I've never found out and I could get no help or compensation from the Post Office as the item wasn't from the UK.
Special delivery costs quite a lot more as you have to buy the 'special' silver bags (costing a minimum of £7.95) but it is worth it as you can choose the item to be delivered by 9.00am the next morning or 1.00pm the next day. Special delivery items also need to be signed for and you can even check online to see if the item has been delivered yet.
I've done a little rummaging around on their website (www.royalmail.com) and found out a few other services I didn't know they offered. Keepsafe - if you are going away on holiday for a short break or a long holiday and don't want the mail piling up on your doormat telling the burglars you're away, then this is what you need. It costs only £5.35 for up to 17 days in which they'll hold your mail for you until you return. Something to keep in mind the next time I go away. Having your own PO Box - The Post Office will deliver your mail to your local Royal Mail delivery office where it can all be picked up in bulk - better for businesses I should think. Costs £54 a year.
Sending items abroad is a bit more risky as items can easily get lost along the way, so for reassurance it is better to opt for International Airmail Signed. Exactly the same as UK Signed Delivery but is a little bit steep at £3.30 plus P&P but you get peace of mind that your parcel/letter has arrived.
Also, as an eBay buyer, I eagerly await the post each day (as I don't receive bills yet!). I love not knowing if I'll receive a letter or parcel that day, whether I've bought the item, won a competition I've entered or if my pen-pals replied to me. The postman is nearly always at my letterbox by 10am (although on one or two occasions last year it arrived at 2.30!) but I cant fault them as they always try to deliver it early.
To make sure mail arrives at its correct destination, the correct address and postcode should always be used. Also I find tidy handwriting helps the postman and sorting office (although I'm told its done by machine). If you don't know the postcode or address, the Royal Mail provide a service on their website (www.royalmail.com) that will give you the address you need by inputting a postcode or part of the address. Very handy.
I've just read that the post office will soon be charging prices for parcels by their weight AND size so I think that posting items bigger than a letter will soon become more expensive.
SO, WHAT DO I THINK OF ROYAL MAIL? The good points: Reasonable prices for sending items locally and nationally. Efficient post times Friendly postmen
The bad points: Very rarely items get stolen/lost
So overall, I rate Royal Mail quite highly. OK so the odd letter may go missing or a parcel may get stolen but 99.9% of the time they do the job. They may get criticism from some people but I give them a big thumbs up! They work for me so I'll continue to use them and recommended them to everyone!