Today it was announced that Royal Mail will increase the price of a First Class stamp to 60p from April, along with other planned price rises.
Currently, the price of a first class stamp is set at 46p, however Ofcom - the post office regulator - has lifted some price controls on products, allowing Royal Mail to increase the prices. For first class stamps, the price will increase by 30%.
From 30th April, a second class stamp will increase from 36p to 50p, a 39% increase. There will also be increases to large stamped letters, air mail and business class post.
The news has angered the public, who over the last ten years ago, have seen the price of a first class stamp increase by over 100%.
However, Royal Mail described the plans as "necessary", after revealing that since 2006, there has been a 25% decline in the volume of post. Royal Mail worries that without the planned increase, the reliability of their service will remain vulnerable in the tough economic climate, and the advancement of technology.
On the face of it, 60p might not sound like much, a point the Royal Mail chiefs were making today. OK, so it might be the same price as a chocolate bar, but that is not the point. Compared to other countries, the cost is ridiculously high, and the service is unrelible, despite Royal Mail being keen to point out that the price rise reflects an improvement in service and speed.
But does it? Who are they fooling. Since the last price increase, I've had mail lost, returned and delivered late. Last Christmas, I sent a package three months beforehand to New Zealand with the promise of guaranteed Christmas delivery. It didn't even make the New Year!
The customer service is appalling, and what with the Royal Mail and the Post Office acting as two separate companies, it's painful trying to solve a dispute like a late delivery.
The postal service still plays a vital role in the UK. The Royal Mail chiefs may argue that technology is forcing them out of business, but at the end of the day, there is nothing quite like receiving a letter in the post then an email. It's always going to be used, it just needs to wake up to the 21st century and think ahead.
With the government agreeing last year that 90% of the Royal Mail will be privatised - likely to happen by 2014 - the postal service remains in the spotlight. I'd like to think the Royal Mail will still be here for years to come, and I'm sure it will be. But it needs to focus on the public demands. Forget technology and investment, focus on the small things that matter. After all, it's an important part of our infrastructure that needs protecting.
Pictures Courtesy of Wikipedia