01 August 1997

DELEGATES to UK Direct, the annual direct marketing convention held in Jersey, heard Royal Mail marketing director Jim Cotton-Betteridge outline new plans for pricing pre-sorted mail. He told delegates: 'We will move forward from a percentage discount on the public tariff to a cost-per-thousand according to the level of [pre-sortation] work that has been done and the menu chosen.' Pre-sorted, machinable, high-volume mailings will benefit most from the new scheme - but Cotton-Betteridge warned mailers not to expect undue largesse, stressing that the RM must protect its core revenue streams to meet tough government financial targets. The possibility of allowing mailing houses to consolidate smaller mailings so as to achieve lower postage rates is currently being debated within the RM: 'There are two camps in the business and I don't know the end result', he said. Guaranteed delivery timing is also under scrutiny, as is the current practice of pricing items by weight: 'Why are our prices still based on weight', he asked rhetorically, 'when it no longer affects our costs? It costs industry £250m a year and us £40m to have scales and to have them checked. If we could do away with weight, there would be immediate benefits.'