Freelance Fundraiser’s Jottings

21 June 2008

Come back Postman Pat, all is forgiven…

Filed under: charity,fundraising,not-for-profit,technology,Uncategorized — freelancefundraiser @ 2:51 pm

Postie Pat

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. All those new gadgets that make life easier, keep us in touch and are generally for the good of the whole. What bugs me is where new technology actually makes things harder or more difficult or costly for people.

Take, for example, all the changes at Royal Mail. A couple of years ago they introduced new machines that could sort the mail, instead of using people. “Great!” You might think, “that’ll make life so much easier and speed up the service”. But then came the catch. No longer could you send mail in larger C4 sized envelopes without incurring higher postal fees.

For many charities, this involved re-designing newsletters and mailings, in order that they could either be folded in half or reduced to A5 size paper to fit the smaller acceptable size. Obviously, there was a cost involved for many charities, but overall they coped.

So, it’s back to normal, or so you’d think. It’s now emerged that these super-whizzo sorting machines are incapable of determining when a FREEPOST envelope has had a stamp stuck on it! As a result, not only are the charities having to pay the FREEPOST fee, the Royal Mail are also coining in the stamp fee from the donor who thought they were saving the charity money! So, double income for Royal Mail and an unecessary charge for the charities using FREEPOST.

The Royal Mail have said they will reimburse charities for the number of double-charged stamped FREEPOST envelopes they receive, although one RM office has told a hospice in Derbyshire it will only reimburse them the once. The point is, it costs time and money for charities to monitor all their FREEPOST mail and chase it up with Royal Mail. They won’t get reimbursed for this, only the postage cost per envelope.

It has led to some charities asking donors to cross out the word FREEPOST on the envelope, when using a stamp, in an effort to stop the double-charging.

I find it incredulous that when we have so much cutting edge technology at our fingertips, Royal Mail cannot get a machine designed that can properly scan envelopes for such obvious things as stamps, printed words (when it already reads hand-written postcodes) or barcodes. The sooner new independent mail delivery services begin to offer decent services to all, the better!

One charity support organisation, Company Solutions, has already called on charities to boycott the use of FREEPOST until Royal Mail get their act together. To sign up to their campaign, click here.

It really is a one way game with Royal Mail. They seem to want all the benefits, even if it results in others experiencing extra costs, just so their systems work and they cut their costs. The days of friendly Postman Pat who brought a human face to the service really do seem to be over.

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