Hot issue - Should charities boycott the Royal Mail's Freepost service?

There is considerable disquiet about the Royal Mail getting double payment for some stamped Freepost letters. Some feel it's time to stop using the company.

YES: Gareth Edwards, chief executive, Farplace Animal Rescue

This sector is a large customer of Royal Mail. The company has been paid twice over for three years and should at the very least invest in adapting its sorting machinery to detect if a stamp is placed on a Freepost envelope, and deduct the charge accordingly. The message to Royal Mail should be clear: treat charities more fairly, or we will boycott you now and even move to other providers as soon as they offer an alternative. My ordinary mail is already with TNT.

For our latest donor appeal, we have changed to an ordinary addressed envelope with the words "Please use a stamp - we no longer use Freepost as Royal Mail now charge all good causes even when you put a stamp on the envelope. Support charities that boycott Freepost until Royal Mail treats charities fairly". We also explained the situation in the mailing. Our early response rates are the same as with Freepost and our donors are involved in and are supportive of our decision.

NO: David Burrows, head of fundraising, TDA

A boycott simply creates another barrier to giving and will lead to fewer donations. In our enthusiasm to take a pot-shot at Royal Mail, we could shoot ourselves in the foot.

Talk of joint action is pointless unless we get the biggest charities on board. The 11 organisations listed on the boycott website are mainly smaller or regional charities. They may be fabulous causes, but they aren't exactly titans of direct mail. I don't think Adam Crozier, chief executive of Royal Mail, will be losing sleep.

We could launch a high-profile PR campaign, but anyone hearing half the story will think it's about direct mail donations not getting through to where they are intended, and that could be dangerous.

Quiet, behind the scenes negotiation is the best approach. And if it doesn't work, we can always replace the "No stamp needed" box on reply envelopes with a message saying "Royal Mail won't let you save us money by putting your own stamp on this".

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