Royal Mail has slashed the amount of compensation claimed for lost or damaged post from £46 to £20. Practically, it means for more expensive items, the compensation you're entitled to may now not cover your original delivery costs.

The new rules cover standard first and second class letters and parcels. Internet shoppers take note.


Damaged goods

On the flip side, the maximum compensation amount for lost or damaged 1st and 2nd-class letters and parcels that use the Royal Mail's signed-for service – the cost of which varies from under £2 to more than £33 – has been increased to £50 from £46.

However, it's clear that for basic postal Royal Mail services, the amount of compensation is shrinking. The Royal Mail is being fattened up for sale, expected by the end of the year (though a recent ballot of postal workers saw 96% vote against the sell-off, despite the dangled carrot of £1,500 in shares).

Which? has put together a letter template for complaining about damaged goods here, invoking the Sale of Goods Act 1979. Remember that if you take delivery of an parcel containing damaged goods, the seller is responsible, as well as covering the expense of returning the goods.

Who's responsible?

When taking delivery it's a good idea to write on the card, or electronic device (if possible), 'goods received but not inspected' to make your position clear, advises Which?

"You shouldn't have to take up your complaint with the delivery company either," says the consumer rights organisation. "Nor should you be told that you'll need to claim on the delivery company's insurance."

Compensation levels for postal delays haven't changed though. However compensation for the boss of Royal Mail has. Last year Royal Mail boss Moya Greene earned £1.1m. It's thought this year her total compensation package will climb by the best part of £500,000, due to longer term "performance" incentives.