Royal Mail has bowed to pressure over how it charges for its redirection service, which critics say penalises modern families with different surnames.
Citizens Advice has urged Royal Mail to change the cost of mail redirections from a “per surname” to a “per household” basis.
Charging per surname to redirect mail penalises unmarried couples and spouses who keep their own names, as well as children and elderly relatives with different surnames who live in the same household, the charity said. The postal service said it agreed with Citizens Advice that there was a “need for a different pricing structure” and added that it was finalising new fees.
Royal Mail said: “We wrote to Citizens Advice last week, before the report was issued, to confirm that we will change the pricing structure of our popular redirections service away from a per surname basis or anything similar. We are currently working on the details of this new pricing structure and will share once finalised.”
Citizens Advice said more than half (55%) of people who have moved house within the last two years in the UK live with at least one person who has a different surname to them. Analysis by the charity also found that the Netherlands is the only other country in Europe to charge per surname.
The charity also called on Royal Mail to make its redirection service generally more affordable. It noted that the price of a three-month redirection had soared 74% since 2012 while second-class stamps only went up by 12%. People currently pay a fee per last name for mail direction of £33.99 for up to three months; £46.99 for up to six months; and £66.99 for up to 12 months.
Royal Mail, however, insisted that its redirection packages offered “excellent value for money”, noting that a six-month direction works out at 30p a day.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Many people rely on Royal Mail’s redirection service yet it’s designed for households of the past. Consumers are facing a double whammy. Royal Mail has drastically increased the price of redirection over the years, but hasn’t changed its outdated price structure that assumes families always share the same surname.
“As the dedicated universal service provider, it has a duty to make sure this service is fair and affordable.”