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If you got one from us last year … keep it, it will probably be the last one you’ll get!

There was a time, back in the days when Paddy MacDee was a boy, that the ‘Royal Mail’ delivered letters three times a day, morning, noon and evening. The Evening delivery was abandoned decades ago but lunch time deliveries continued until they were also discontinued, in most places, in 2004. In most places, but not here in Northumberland. No, we still get a lunchtime delivery, unfortunately we no longer get a morning delivery. Our mail, which used to arrive between 7.00 and 8.00 every morning now arrives, as it did today, at 12.25 pm, that’s in the afternoon, after lunch. The service provided by the ‘Royal Mail’ seems to be directly proportionate to their profits, i.e. really terrible and getting worse.

But the ‘Royal Mail’ are putting up the price of delivering mail to 50p for second class and 60p for first class. I am not paying 60p for a letter that ‘Royal Mail’ will not be bothered to deliver until the following afternoon. This is a massive increase in price. ‘Royal Mail’ seem to be employing the same mentality used by Spanish restaurant owners, who apparently think that as they have struggled recently with fewer customers, that the way to return to profitability is to hugely increase prices to make more profit from those who still frequent their dining rooms. This does not work.

There is a lovely little Spanish restaurant that we like, tucked away behind the square in Cabopino near Marbella. Nice rustic home cooked Spanish food, swimming in olive oil. I like the owner, nice bloke, always has a cheery ‘buenas noches’ for us when we arrive, but we went in last summer to find that the portion sizes, never generous before, had got even smaller and the prices, reasonable before, had gone up by about 35%. Not a good move. People, us included, will vote with our feet and instead head for the cheap Chinese in La Cala de Mijas. The Spanish don’t seem to understand that you can not make the same money by charging a dwindling clientele more, you simply lose more of them. Better to put your prices down a little and greatly improve your marketing.

But back to the stamps. If I were the Queen, I’d be round ‘Royal Mail’ HQ tomorrow morning demanding they drop the word ‘Royal’ from the name on the grounds that the standard of service is now so low, even Fergie wouldn’t do their TV ads.

Increasing your charges by up to 33% will only drive your customers away. Even more of us will use email to send letters, information and documents. What about Christmas though, the time when the ‘Royal Mail’ make most of their money, there is no substitute for a nice Christmas card is there? Well, yes there is. We can all now send those nice on-line Christmas cards, already popular for sending to friends overseas, I think that will now be extended to friends overseas and friends more than half a mile away. These cards are free, animated, can be personalised to include your special Christmas message, and best of all, arrive in the recipients in box almost immediately.

So if you got a Christmas card from us last year, keep it as we are unlikely to post any at all this year. This will save us a fortune, which is good as we are hoping to be able to buy a couple of litres of diesel. We will need them to drive to the ‘Royal Mail’ sorting office on the Prudhoe industrial estate to pick up that parcel that ‘Royal Mail’ couldn’t deliver, as we had all gone out about six hours earlier.