On 2 April Royal Mail changed the way it charges for small packets and parcels. Previously this was by weight. This made it very easy to calculate postage costs as my teas are sold by weight. Add in an amount for the weight of the outer packaging it was easy for me to calculate the post and packing charge. (For transparency my p&p charge consists of the postal charge plus the cost of the box, tape, labels, airbags and the trip to the Post Office.)
Now the Royal Mail has decided to introduce a level of complexity by charging based not only on weight but volume, parcels are now either small or medium parcels. So a parcel weighing 999g will cost £2.60 if it is a small parcel, however if it is a medium parcel the price doubles to £5.20.
The challenge for me is to establish whether a particular order will become a small or medium parcel. I don't want to overcharge my customers equally I don't want to undercharge.
Let's be clear, these changes by Royal Mail are a thinly disguised way of hiking prices under the guise of 'simplicity'.
A parcel that cost £5.60 to send on 30 March, now costs £8.00. A 43% rise for sending the same parcel. So that's OK then, in a fragile economic climate I just pass on this extra charge to my customers? Or do I just absorb the cost?
The answer is obviously no. I would rather my customers spent their money on my tea, equally my business is to provide an income for me, I don't do this for the benefit of the Royal Mail.
This cunning price hike would work for the Royal Mail were we not able to go elsewhere. Which is what I have done - literally. On Friday I left the Post Office with my parcel and sent it by courier, paying half of what the Royal Mail wanted.
Ultimately my customers will decide what they want, so it's over to you. Are you prepared to pay more to use Royal Mail? Are you happy with the courier company I use (Hermes)? Is there an alternative courier company you would prefer? What is most important to you, cost or speed of delivery?
I look forward to your comments, in the words of Mrs Merton 'Let's have a heated debate!'