Christmas card post warningYou face a surcharge if sender used wrong stamp

27 November 2007

Posting letter

People receiving incorrectly stamped Christmas cards could be charged the underpayment plus a £1 administration fee, a watchdog has warned.

It follows changes to the charging system which made larger and thicker letters more expensive to post.

Royal Mail waived underpayment fees last festive season because the new 'pricing in proportion' rules only came into force in August 2006.

Postwatch warning

But consumer watchdog Postwatch has warned that this Christmas recipients could be liable for any underpayment plus a £1 admin fee.

It is calling on the Royal Mail to be lenient when deciding whether to charge extra for cards only just big enough to fall into the higher price bracket.

A Postwatch spokeswoman said: 'It is not about letting people off blatant underpayment, but some of the very square cards go into the large letter bracket and it is not easy to detect.'

Plea to Royal Mail

She urged the Royal Mail to look favourably on borderline cases to avoid customers having to queue to pay extra at delivery offices.

People sending cards should double-check which pricing category they need.

'We are saying to people: be aware. If you are not sure, go to the Post Office or call Royal Mail customer services,' she added.

Pricing in proportion

The pricing in proportion system takes the size and thickness of postal items into account.

It replaced the previous charging system which was based on weight.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: 'Royal Mail always takes a common-sense approach to the tiny fraction of mail with underpaid postage as surcharging doesn't cover our handling costs, loses us money and is the last thing we want to do - and any suggestion to the contrary is alarmist scaremongering and is just not true.'

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