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Carlisle newsagent's U-turn over stamp-price hike

A Carlisle newsagent has been selling stamps at the new higher price weeks before it comes into effect.

Lonsdale News on Lonsdale Street was selling stamps at the new price of 60p for first class – up from 46p – this week.

But, after being contacted by the News & Star, supervisor Geraldine Griffiths said she hadn’t realised it didn’t come into force until April 30.

She said: “We were already selling stamps at the new price. We had a couple of complaints. We hadn’t received any guidance from Royal Mail on the matter.

“I thought the new price came into force on April 1 but now I’ve put them back to the original price.”

A first class stamp will rise from 46p to 60p on April 30, while a second-class stamp will go up from 36p to 50p.

Royal Mail, which is also increasing the price of second class stamps from 36p to 50p, has imposed a cap on the number of stamps shops can buy to ensure it benefits from price rises. The postal service has capped supplies before the price rise to 20 per cent of each retailer’s annual allocation to “protect revenue” and prevent shops stockpiling and cashing in on the higher prices.

But some retailers have already admitted to buying in bulk so they cash in themselves.

Chad Wakefield, proprietor of McCrea’s Newsagents on Norfolk Street, Denton Holme. said he had been buying lots of stamps to make a small profit when the price goes up.

He said: “I have been buying them every time I go to the cash and carry. In this day and age you have to make your pennies where you can.”

Andrew Dunning, of Stanwix Newsagents on Church Street, added: “We have seen an increase in sales.

“When the price goes up we can sell them on at the new price which is an opportunity for retailers to make money.”

He added that, although customers were paying for a good service, he thought the price hike was “perhaps too much at once”.

Royal Mail spokesman James Eadie said the revenue from the increase was needed to maintain the six-day postal service.

“We do have a sensible allocation in place so that individual retailers can pre-order in advance of the price rise, based on their normal full-year expectations of demand,” he said.

“These allocations are in place for all retailers so we can balance the customer demand with the need to protect Royal Mail’s revenues. This is a prudent and appropriate policy.“Our priority is to ensure that the proceeds from this much needed price rise go to sustain the six-day-a-week service which has been loss making for some time.”

The postal service said it would not comment on reports of individual shops running out of supplies but said: “What we can confirm is that we always seek to strike the right balance between meeting the demands of our customers and protecting Royal Mail’s revenues immediately in advance of a price rise.

“Individual retail chains are given a reasonable and proportionate allocation of stamps in advance of any price rise.”

Demand for stamps surged when the price increase was announced last month but has since fallen back.

Mr Eadie said: “There is a good supply of stamps across the country. We have more than adequate stock in place to meet customer demand.”

Cumbrian newsagents have reported an increase in stamp sales, with some stores selling out.

Manny Begum, manager of Sam’s newsagents on Botchergate in Carlisle, said the shop had sold out but would get some more stamps in by Friday.

She added: “A whole load of people came in before April and bought books [of stamps]. We don’t stock huge amounts.”

Meanwhile, Davis Raye, owner of P & D Newsagents on Corporation Road in Workington said he had seen a “small increase” in sales as did Richard James on Finkle Street in Workington. Both newsagents still had stamps in stock.

Have your say

At the risk of this turning into a dialogue. Yes, 'Me,' I _do_ want to see Royal Mail subsidised, in order to ensure that the quality of service continues. I fear that if it is not run as a public service, and funded accordingly, the universal service will vanish. Private operators are simply not interested in single use customers, which is why you and I still rely on the Royal Mail / Parcelforce for sending our letters and parcels, while larger firms have the choice of TNT, UPS and a host of others.

Is subsidising a service that provides a quality of life to millions of people inherently wrong? Your view may be different to mine, but we don't attempt to run the road network at a profit, nor the National Parks, nor libraries. These are funded 'for the greater good' and I would advocate the same for a universal postal service.

It is not the price rise itself that concerns me most, but the fact that this is a deliberate (and openly stated) move towards privatisation and profitability. Profitability means cutting loss-making aspects of the business, such as door to door deliveries in rural areas, a single rate of postage across the country, and remote post boxes. It's happened with the public telephone system, and will happen with the post.

And, as with any such move, by the time we decide that we don't like it after all and that it hasn't delivered on its promises, it will be too late. As thousands of people in Cumbria have seen with the loss of local bus services since 'privatisation' and the cuts in subsidies. As we have all seen with the virtual abolition of public telephones that accept cash. Once a service is lost, it is never reinstated.

That is why I oppose this move, even if it does mean fuding it through taxes.

Posted by Chris on 20 April 2012 at 22:53

Chris, price rising are going to happen unless you wish to see RM subsidised by the government and taxpayers handouts. It's not realistic given the costs involved to expect RM to make a loss on all the services offered.

Posted by Me on 19 April 2012 at 20:48

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