Postal rates a good value

I would like to respond to Mr. Bill Huddleston’s letter, ‘Postal rates too high.’

I will start by thanking him for acknowledging our good service and the many hours that postal employees have to work.

Mail processing is a complex manual business, which is not cheap. In 2003 the Postal Service commissioned a cost vs. rate analysis on postage. The results showed that mailing a letter locally costs 55-cents¢. For Group A mail, destined to the United States and the Caribbean, the cost was $1. Mail destined for Group B countries, the United Kingdom etc., cost $1.10, and mail for Group C, European countries, cost $1.20.

Bear in mind that the year was 2003 and our rates were 15-cents for local mail, 30-cents for Group A, 40-cents for Group B and 60-cents for Group C. Therefore, if local mail cost 55-cents and the postage rate was 15-cents, that was a difference of 40-cents. Even with the increase, each piece of local mail is being subsidised by at least 30-cents.

Processing the mail is a very labour-intensive business requiring about eight steps for local mail and nine for foreign destinations.

Here is the process:

Step 1 A customer purchases a stamp and puts the letter into the mail drop.

2 The mail drops are cleared, and each letter is then faced (placed in the right direction for sorting) and sorted according to size.

3 The stamp is cancelled.

4 Each envelope is separated according to local or foreign destination, and counted. This is all before the sorting stage.

5 The envelope is placed into a pigeonhole according to district or foreign destination.

6 From the pigeonhole, mail is bundled and bagged for transportation to the Airport Post Office, the main mail processing facility.

7 There, the bags of local mail are taken by mail vans to the eastern and western districts.

8 Inter-island mail and mail destined for foreign destinations will undergo additional sorting and handling at the Airport Post Office in preparation for airline transportation.

9 (for mail heading to foreign destinations): Delivery is achieved only because of the worldwide network of handlers from the airlines to the staff of post offices who deliver the mail sent from the Cayman Islands – and please bear in mind that the Postal Service has to pay those airlines and foreign postal service for delivering Cayman Islands mail.

Despite the rate increase, Cayman’s postal rates are on par with those of other countries.

For instance, the US domestic rate is 39-cents per ounce, which converts to 32-cent CI. The United Kingdom’s domestic rate is 32-pence for up to 60 grams (three ounces), which converts to 49-cents CI. However, as of 21 August, Royal Mail began calculating its postage rates on weight, size and the service required. The Bahamas charge 25-cents (21-cents CI) per half-ounce for domestic mail and 65-cents (54-cents CI) for mail to the United States and Canada. Every country in the world is trying to maximise its bottom line.

The Cayman Islands Government subsidises postal operations by CI$1million annually. Even with the increase in July, our postal rates do not reflect the actual cost of delivering the mail.

Tara Bush – CIPS Marketing spokesperson

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