The GBStamp blog reports that Royal Mail has revised the fees for underpaid or unpaid mail. Royal Mail's press release is here. The new fees represent the first change in ten years and are simpler so that surcharged items can be delivered faster.
The fee before the October 5 adjustment was £1 plus the remaining postage due. The new fee is now a fixed £1.50 for a letter or large letter that has partial postage paid and £2 for unpaid mail. The fee is £3 for a small parcel, either unpaid or part paid.
I have to wonder if this is the complete story. The postage for a second-class large letter weighing between 500 and 750 grams is £3.15. If the new fixed fee covers this letter, the sender could put a 1p stamp on it and the recipient would then be charged £1.50. The total paid with this scheme would be less than half of the normal postage rate.
But maybe it is correct. The minimum charge for a second-class small parcel is £3.90, yet the postage due fee is only £3. The surcharge for a small parcel will never be as much as regular postage. I guess Royal Mail figures that the inconvenience of the recipient having to pay the postage due and the resulting delay in delivery will discourage mailers from taking advantage of this loophole.
Royal Mail admits that this is a problem by stating,
Even with these changes, surcharge fees will not fully meet the cost to Royal Mail of handling mail where the appropriate postage has not been attached.
Still, it seems strange that Royal Mail is implementing this fee structure. Maybe something else is going on that we don't know about.
I included an image of postage due stamps (the image is from a presentation pack), but of course those are long gone. Postage due surcharges can be paid using regular stamps on the form shown here. I've never seen one of these slips offered with Machins (or any other stamps) attached. Does the post office cancel them? What happens to them?