Wirral mum charged extra for postage because birthday card had badge on
A BIRTHDAY card posted to a mum from Noctorum cost £1.08 to collect from a sorting office because it had a badge on it.
When the mail arrived at Tula Brett's home in Upton Road on Wednesday morning, there was a card from the Post Office which said an item was waiting for collection from a depot in Prenton.
Tula's 65-year-old husband Denis went to collect the mystery object, which turned out to be a card from her friend, and had to pay a £1.08 handling charge.
An unhappy Tula later paid a visit to the office to complain and tried, unsuccessfully, to get a refund.
The couple had both celebrated their birthdays a few days earlier. The card Tula eventually received had a small plastic badge with the words 'Birthday Girl' attached to it and there was a first-class stamp and postmark on the envelope.
Royal Mail said its postage prices were based on the letter's size and weight, which the sender shoud have checked before posting.
An angry Tula, 46, told the Globe: "You don't expect to receive a card with a first class stamp on it and have to pay a charge to collect it.
"Does that mean children will be charged extra for cards with badges on? I could get a parcel delivered for less than the cost of a card.
"I'd be horrified if I sent someone a card and they were charged to just open the card.
"I haven't told my friend yet, but I'm sure she won’t be pleased either.
"It's a frustrating situation. I was not very happy about having to pay this money for something I hadn’t even posted.
There also seemed to be some confusion as to why we'd been charged £1.08.
"When my husband asked a member of staff why he'd been charged, he was told it was because it wouldn't fit through the slot, which we assumed meant the letter here at the house.
"He then produced a steel frame with test slots in it and tried to push the card through it.
"We were also told it was because the card was the wrong weight for the stamp. His colleague corrected him by saying that it was because of the badge on the card. We’ve had no real explanation as to why this charge was levied, or any apology."
A Royal Mail spokesman said: "Since August 2006, UK postage prices have been based on the size of an item as well as its weight. Mail is priced in three sizes: Letter, Large Letter and Packet.
"For the vast majority of cards the Letter size applies. For larger cards with any dimension over 240mm long or 165mm wide or 5mm thick, or over 100g in weight, the Large Letter rate applies.
"Any item more than 353mm long, more than 250mm wide, more than 25mm thick, or weighing more than 750g, is classed as a Packet.
"From the information supplied on the item concerned it could well be thicker than the maximum allowed for the 'Letter' size, so the sender should have paid postage for the Large Letter size.
"If a recipient wishes to receive an underpaid item of mail, they must pay the amount of underpaid postage plus a £1 handling fee. The fee goes towards our additional handling costs, including returning the item to the delivery office, storage, and administration.
"Underpaid postage amounts to millions of pounds each year and surcharging doesn't cover our costs, loses us money and is the last thing we want to do."
In response, Mrs Brett said: "It's a ridiculous situation. I had other cards with badges and didn't get charged.
It seems to me that this policy is not something which is implemented across the board." THE GLOBE