La Poste updates letter services

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To meet the changing needs of its customers and reduce its carbon footprint, while also ensuring the long-term viability of the universal postal service, La Poste has decided to revamp its mail-service range.

As of January 1, 2023, customers will be able to choose between three types of letters. The distribution of letters and newspapers/magazines, as well as parcel deliveries and local services, will continue to operate six days a week. The company has said that while people send fewer priority letters today, other types of mail retain an important place in French society – notably, standard everyday letters, letters that have legal value, or small items sent in letter format. Reliable delivery, mail-tracking services and environmental consideration are the top-ranking expectations that came out of La Poste’s recent survey conducted among 22,000 business and private customers.

The use of priority red letters is decreasing; for example, households sent 45 priority letters a year in 2010, compared with only five in 2021. Digital tools, emails and text messages have been widely adopted by consumers who want to send urgent messages and information. On the other hand, the standard green letter is still popular among customers for the majority of day-to-day uses, such as sending administrative documents, postcards or small items.

According to La Poste, the current format of the red letter no longer corresponds to consumer uses and habits. Moreover, since it must be delivered quickly, sometimes even requiring a plane journey, its energy footprint is significant. Consequently, for occasional urgent letters (to cancel a subscription, for example), La Poste will now offer the red e-letter. This type of letter will be sent via the website (service available until 8:00pm). It will then be printed by La Poste at a branch near the recipient’s address – while respecting the confidentiality of the content – and delivered the next day in an envelope bearing a red-stamp marking.

Customers will be able to consult a log of the letters they have sent and use letter templates to carry out their administrative procedures. For customers who are not digitally literate, La Poste will offer the option of sending red e-letters from a post office, using an automated postal machine or with the help of an advisor (equipped with a Smartéo phone). The price of a red e-letter will be €1.49 (US$1.52) for one to three sheets of paper, compared with €1.43 (US$1.46) for a priority ‘red stamp’ today. The cost of the envelope and paper are included.

Additionally, the standard green letter will be delivered within three days and be priced from €1.16 (US$1.18), which is the same as the current price. Customers will be able to add a delivery-tracking option at a cost of 50 cents (US$0.51), and thus receive confirmation the letter has been delivered.

The Turquoise services plus letter is a new addition to the company’s range. It will be proposed for customers’ most important letters that require tracking and traceability, for sending a cheque or small items, for example. It will be delivered within two days. With smart data technology, the turquoise services plus letter will include (at no extra cost) services such as tracking notifications, collection of the letter by the postman/woman from the sender’s personal letterbox and a flat-rate compensation, in the event the letter is delivered late.

Furthermore, the registered letter service will still be available for sending “formal or procedural” letters, which require legal proof. Registered letters will be priced from €4.83 (US$4.93), compared with €4.55 (US$4.65) in 2022, with a three-day delivery time.

Although consumers are sending fewer letters today, they are sending more Colissimo parcels. The Colissimo rate for the first weight bracket (less than 250g) will remain unchanged at €4.95 (US$5.06) for the fourth consecutive year, despite inflation and the sharp rise in fuel prices. On average, the Colissimo rates for the universal parcel service will increase by around 2.4% on January 1, 2023, i.e. lower than inflation.

As indicated by the French Authority for regulation of the electronic communications and postal sectors (ARCEP), the prices meet the principle of affordability set out by the applicable French legislative and regulatory framework. Additionally, La Poste has calculated that by 2030, with the development of the priority ‘red e-letter’ and the standard green letter (with a three-day delivery), it will have saved 60,000 tons of CO2 a year, which represents a 25% reduction compared to the current service offers. This reduction will be obtained by stopping the use of air transportation in France (during 2023), more efficient truck loading and by printing of e-letters closer to the recipient’s address (thus reducing transportation).

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