Rising postal charges may cause business backlash

Last updated 05:00 21/03/2014
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The elderly and those living on fixed incomes will be hardest hit by postage cost hikes but some businesses say they may also re-examine their use of snail mail.

New Zealand Post yesterday announced a raft of increases to its postage costs as the company battles to maintain a viable postal service.

From July 1, sending a standard letter within New Zealand will cost 80 cents, an increase of 10 cents.

Posting large letters will increase from $1.40 to $1.60, while the cost of sending a standard parcel will also go up by between 10 cents and $1, depending on the parcel's size.

The cost of sending letters and parcels overseas will also increase.

New Zealand Post said the cost hikes were needed to maintain a viable network.

Letter volumes declined by about 7.5 per cent (63 million items) last year.

New Zealand Post put the decline down to people and businesses increasingly using technologies such as email and smart phones to communicate.

Postage costs were last increased in 2012.

Poverty Action Waikato researcher Anna Cox said although the postage cost increases might not appear significant it would impact those on low incomes.

Ms Cox said the price hikes were a response to people's use of alternative communication technology but did not consider people's ability to pay higher postage rates.

"The market mentality is to move in that direction but people on low incomes tend to get left out those considerations," she said.

Age Concern Hamilton chief executive Gail Gilbert said many older residents were still reliant on postal services and any cost increases would be keenly felt.

"For somebody living solely on the New Zealand Super, every cent counts," she said.

Receiving mail was "one of the great pleasures" for many older people, Mrs Gilbert said, but the elderly also used the post to pay bills.

"If they don't have a computer and don't have the ability to go online then they will choose to pay bills by sending cheques in the post."

Waikato Chambers of Commerce chief executive Sandra Perry said the organisation had recently reverted to posting information to people because of the uncertainties of relying solely on email.

"If we sent information to a person and they didn't work at the company anymore then that information wasn't being picked up," Mrs Perry said.

"The cost increase is disappointing and we will probably turn around and review whether we continue to use post. That will be the same for a lot of companies."

Waikato Regional Council communications manager Karen Bennett did not anticipate the postage price hikes would have any significant flow on effect to ratepayers.

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Although the council was increasingly less reliant on the postal service for sending or receiving correspondence, its outward mail volume had stayed about the same, at 300 to 400 items a day.

That figure excluded bulk mail.

"We send out 160,000 rates invoices each year, with the postage being at a discounted rate for volume. We offer ratepayers the option of receiving their rates invoice by email but less than one per cent of ratepayers had taken up this option," Ms Bennett said. aaron.leaman@waikatotimes.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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