Re: Hats Off To Royal Mail...
Thanks Zaphod and Surfermom I think we are all in agreement that the letters business has got to come up with something to compete with electronic mail and until they do the rising prices will just add to its demise.
You're right Zaphod, stopping Saturday deliveries was being considered when I was still working for Royal Mail. When I first started working as a postman, you would have your own walk that you did five days per week. The sixth day was done by a Coverman who would do a different round each day, covering the same five postmen's rolling day off each week.
I volunteered to be a coverman because it was more varied and interesting, but it took longer to learn because it was a different walk each day. By removing the need to deliver Saturdays, the regular postman would work his five days and a coverman would not be required. Considering there were twelve covermen in our delivery office of about sixty postmen/women, so a considerable amount of money could be saved by only delivering the post for five days.
Another saving that did take place during my employment was the provision of a van for every two postmen. They would work in tandem from the same van. No more bicycles to supply or maintain. No more bags of post having to be delivered to the little grey boxes or willing shops that would take bags of post (for a small payment) so the postman on foot or bike, could leave his empty bags and collect his next full bags. And no more transport needed for the postman who's walk was a long way from the office. You weren't allowed to use your own vehicle to deliver the post, your private car is not insured for work. I was the exception and could use my own van, because having been a courier, I was insured for the carriage of goods.
And finally, no need for separate parcel delivery vehicles, used for parcels too big for a foot postman to manage. Now we had our own vans we could take our own large parcels. So a fleet of 30 small vans at our delivery office replaced twice that many large passenger and parcel carrying vans and bicycles. Now the the little grey boxes sit rusting away at the side of the road, and they no longer have to pay shops to look after the fresh bag of post. On average, your actual postie will deliver four bags of post each day. My rounds usually contained about six or seven hundred delivery points.