Royal Mail abandons flexibility issue

Royal Mail has bowed to pressure from publishers and said it will not pursue a “flexibility” measure as part of the size-based pricing proposals affecting magazines.

The measure would have had a big impact on magazines carrying covermounts as it referred to the ease with which a magazine can be folded to letterbox size. Publishers were specifically concerned that it would have been down to the discretion of the frontline Royal Mail operator to decide whether a magazine was flexible enough – resulting in postal costs being doubled.

The Periodical Publishers Association lobbied on behalf of magazine publishers, pointing out that flexibility was a “subjective” measure which could be abused.

The PPA said it still has concerns about the Royal Mail’s plans to introduce a measure linked to the flatness of a publication. The current proposals dictate that if the surface of magazine of 10mm thickness or above falls outside a tolerance of 2mm, then the item will be classed as a packet rather than a large letter – also resulting in a substantial increase in costs.

Brin Bucknor, managing director of VNU Business Publications and chairman of PPA’s postal committee, said: “We still have a number of serious concerns around the issue of uniformity, and are keen to understand from Royal Mail the rationale behind a proposal which would see significant price increases at such low tolerances.”

By Ruth Addicott

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