Mail row escalates

POSTWATCH and Royal Mail are at loggerheads today over claims that first class mail should be avoided at Christmas.The postal services watchdog says figures released by Royal Mail show that there is a steep decline in the percentage of first class letters delivered on time during the Christmas period.

POSTWATCH and Royal Mail are at loggerheads today over claims that first class mail should be avoided at Christmas.

The postal services watchdog says figures released by Royal Mail show that there is a steep decline in the percentage of first class letters delivered on time during the Christmas period.

Despite protests from Royal Mail, it has advised customers to use second class mail, at a saving of seven pence.

Figures released by Royal Mail show that over the 2004 Christmas period only 66.1 per cent of first class mail was delivered the next day – down from more than 90 per cent at other times.

During the same three-week period from December 1 to December 21 Royal Mail delivered 93.9 per cent of second class mail within the projected three days.

Postwatch East of England chairman Dr Charles Winstanley said: "Royal Mail's own performance statistics vindicate the advice we gave customers.

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"The value for money option at Christmas is to use second class stamps at a saving of seven pence per item.

"At 28p for a first class stamp, customers are buying a next day delivery service.

"Customers have a right to know in advance that at Christmas more than 30 per cent of first class items will fail to arrive next day, compared with less than 10 per cent during the rest of the year."

But Royal Mail has hit back, insisting first class mail remains the faster way to send mail at Christmas.

"First class post is handled separately from, and is delivered faster, than second class mail," a Royal Mail spokesman said.

"Our estimate is that this Christmas a first class card was two-and-a-half times more likely to be delivered the next working day than second class items.

"Despite Postwatch's misleading comments, the correct advice to customers remains what Royal Mail has consistently said – if you want your letter or card to travel to its destination in the quickest way, at Christmas as at

any other time of year, post it first class."

Weblink: www.royalmailgroup.com; www.postwatch.co.uk

N Do you think first class mail is value for money at Christmas? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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