Royal Mail has been accused of turning a blind eye to the long-term issue of scam mail because it brings in huge profits, following reports that many rogue companies are now using the controversial “delivered by Royal Mail” insignia, which gives the letters greater credence.
Business minister Margot James said last night that Royal Mail would be summoned to Parliament to explain why it was seemingly still waving through the scam letters following an investigation by the Daily Mail.
James said an immediate probe was needed after the investigation found thousands of vulnerable pensioners were at risk from organised criminal scammers who used Royal Mail to send their letters.
The issue is a major concern for the DMA as it brings the whole industry into disrepute, but it is hardly a new one; as far back as 2008, the Office of Fair Trading found that some consumers were receiving up 100 scam letters a week.
Marilyn Baldwin, who founded the “Think Jessica” campaign in memory of her mother who was a victim of multiple scams, claims the market has exploded in recent years and now costs UK consumers more than £10bn.
Royal Mail has consistently claimed it puts huge resources behind the fight against scam mailers. In 2014, Trading Standards launched a scheme designed to determine whether a mailing was fraudulent. The organisation said it would then alert Royal Mail, before writing to the identified company requesting they stop posting the items. Alongside this, Royal Mail claimed it would warn the company about its actions before cancelling its contract if it continued to post fraudulent items.
However, Baldwin maintains contracts are rarely cancelled. She told BBC Breakfast: “Royal Mail only threatens to cancel contracts, they never actually cancel them, which gives scammers the chance to set up all over again.”
Royal Mail strenuously denies this. In a statement on its website it said: “Royal Mail understands the upset and disquiet that scam mail can cause to impacted customers, including vulnerable people. We take the claims submitted to us by the Daily Mail very seriously.
“Since 2014, we have terminated contracts where companies have been by proven by National Trading Standards Scams Team to be operating scam mail. This has prevented an estimated 22 million items from reaching UK households and businesses.”
But it is the use of the “delivered by” insignia which appears to be exacerbating the problem. Introduced in 2012, much to the chagrin of the direct marketing industry, the stamp was designed to combat the fact that rivals Whistl (then TNT Post) and UK Mail had their branding on the mail they handled, even though Royal Mail posties actually deliver the items in the so-called final mile.
On hearing the news that the logo had been approved, DMA chief of operations Mike Lordan said: “Royal Mail does not own the envelopes that it delivers, so it’s hard to understand what right it believes it has to stamp its own marketing message on a medium that is not its property. If Royal Mail wants to market itself to householders by telling them who delivered their mail, then it should find another means of doing so.”
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