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In office chair

Royal Mail's print your own postage service

I finally had an opportunity this morning to try out Royal Mail's new(ish) facility for buying pre-paid postage labels via their website. The experience wasn't as good as it could have been, but I probably will be using it again.

The main problem is that their whole site is incredibly slow in Safari. It appears that there is some badly-written Javascript on every page that causes my browser to freeze completely (spinning rainbow disc) for several seconds after I click on a link or enter something into a form field. Since you need to fill in quite a lot of forms the first time you register and create a label, this process takes a long time. Longer than it would have taken me to walk to the post office.

They also have a huge set of T&Cs you have to agree to. I'm quite anal about carefully reading any small-print, so this added more time onto what should have been a very simple transaction. There's some complete nonsense in there too - the best bit was: "You cannot purchase Postage Labels unless the computer from which you are using Online Postage is connected to the Internet." Well, DUH! Just after that there's a very short list of supported operating systems and web browsers (under these T&Cs, my parents wouldn't be allowed to use the service via their Win98 PC).

Another particularly daft part of the site was where it asks you how heavy the packet you want to buy postage for is and points you at a page that tells you how to estimate the weight if you don't have any weigh-scales, then says immediately afterwards not to estimate the weight of a packet you want to buy a postage label for. Why mention estimating the weight at all if they don't want you to do it?

The final annoyance was that it only lets you buy one label at a time. Since I wanted to send two identical packets, it would have saved me a fair bit of time if it'd let me enter two addresses and print them both on one sheet, and presumably would have saved RM some money in per-transaction credit card fees too.

Having said all that, I like the way that it generates a printable address label for you, and it's good that they don't have a minimum order limit. If they could make the site run faster I might stop using stamps altogether.


Is it aimed at doing individual stamps or multiples? How would it cope if one had to do say300-600 stamps?
Individual stamps: I couldn't even see a way to do two labels in one transaction, never mind uploading a formatted address list for a large mailshot (though I agree that would be a very nice feature).
I use it all the time, for anything where a 1st class stamp won't do. I like the way you can also print the cert of posting, so it's much quicker at the Post Office: "Hi again, this week's lot are here, all paid for so just sign and stamp these please..."

I keep my online account topped up so no need to use a card each time.

I agree with you about the anomalies re: estimating it, but I do think it's an improvement - up til now I had to go to the post office and buy lots of 10p, 5p and 1p stamps so I could send odd weight letters to the US without having to queue up each time. I complained that their old "print your own" service required a subscription payment, and pointed out that disabled people find it hard to queue up at a post office and would like the service for free, and so I can hardly complain that they've rolled it out for free now.

But I do use IE I'm afraid; since I do webdesign I have to use it (as well as other browsers) because the rest of the world seems to and I need to see what my customers are seeing.