I realise that the focus of our fair community is usually on merchandise and collecting, but at the same time, we wouldn't be anything without the postal services we rely so much on! As a post office worker, I'm in the position that I get information before it's made widely available- we get a company-wide magazine on a Friday that mostly lists updates to things like sales or policies.
However, every now and then, we get information that I'm sure many of our UK-based sellers (and even some of our international buying friends) might find beneficial! When I get anything that might be of use to you all, I'll share it with you here!
Tracking Options from the UK and a Policy Change:
When offering tracking or priority services when posting items abroad, there are two different services offered by Royal Mail- International Signed For (ISF) and Airsure.
ISF is the service that has recently had a change to the posting policy. As there has been this change, I will try and sum up the differences between the two services, as they are quite different and could be good to know!
International Signed For offers sellers a proof of delivery upon arrival of the item, as the recipient must provide the postman with a signature when it arrives. It also offers a minimal amount of tracking- it will track the item as it leaves the UK and again upon arrival at the destination. It also offers a small amount of compensation- up to £50.
It is available to every destination in the world and the size and weight limitations are identical to those for items being sent by regular Airmail and Surface mail.
The benefit of using ISF is that it is slightly cheaper than Airsure. It is still more expensive than Airmail, as you are buying tracking options, but it is the cheaper of the two.
ISF's policy regarding PO Boxes abroad has recently changed- it is not longer allowed to use this service to send an item to a PO Box in another country.
The reason given is that most PO Boxes abroad are locked boxes that the customer themselves has control over- they may be accessed at any time and the customers do not need to engage with the postal staff. Therefore, because they are unmanned, it is not possible to fulfil the basic point of the service- obtain a signature upon delivery.
Therefore, if a buyer asks for tracking and they have a PO Box, please do not offer them this service as it can't be fulfilled! If they have a PO Box and want tracking, however, they can still use the Airsure service.
Airsure, unlike ISF, does not require a signature to be collected upon delivery, so it may be used as a tracking option to a foreign PO Box.
Unlike ISF, Airsure offers extensive tracking and will track the packet every step of the way, known as end-to-end tracking. As Airsure is considered to be an 'addon' or upgraded service, it also offers priority handling, so Airsure items tend to arrive a bit sooner than usual Airmail.
Airsure also offers compensation to the value of £250 for an additional fee. However, Airsure is the more expensive of the two services- for even a light packet, it can cost around £9! ISF is cheaper, starting at around £7.
I hope that this was informative! Some of you may have already been aware of the change regarding PO Boxes, but I know I personally knew nothing about tracking before I went to work for the post office, so I hope someone found this useful! Thank you for looking!
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask! Note- I won't be answering any questions along the lines of "why is postage so expensive now?". I have no control over the prices and I think they suck, too.