Royal Mail changes rules

Business post that is undeliverable and does not have a return address will be destroyed by the Royal Mail in a change to its previous practice, warns the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Until now, the Royal Mail has provided a free service attempting to return undeliverable mail, but this has now ceased. To avoid wasting money by continuing to send items to incorrect addresses, businesses should, therefore, ensure that their post has an External Return Address (ERA).

An item is considered undeliverable if:

  • it is impracticable or unreasonable to deliver
  • the delivery address is unsafe
  • the delivery address is not permanently occupied
  • the item does not have a complete, correct or legible address
  • any reason concerning health and safety of Royal Mail staff

Although Royal Mail stated that all companies on their records using franked mail systems were sent notification of this new procedure, the letters were only addressed to the company name, not individuals,” says John Davies, Head of Business Law at ACCA. “Many of these letters could, therefore, have failed to reach the right person and businesses may be left unaware of the changes.

“Firms that wish to have their undeliverable mail returned to them now need to place an ERA centrally at the top, rear of the envelope. Those sending franked mail must ensure that their stationery is either pre-printed on the reverse with their return address, apply sticky labels, or purchase new slogan blocks for their franking machine.”

Some better news for small firms: Royal Mail is to give small business customers a 1p discount off new stamp prices if they use franking machines. This discount will also be extended to businesses using pre-paid envelopes.

For further information on ERA call 08457-950950.

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Business management

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