HOUSEHOLDS can have parcels and returns picked up by Royal Mail posties directly from their homes – and it's free.
Royal Mail’s Parcel Collect service lets you send packages without even having to leave your home.
The new service sees posties collect parcels from your door to save a trip to the Post Office.
It usually costs 72p plus postage or 60p for pre-paid return items.
But Royal Mail has announced that it's scrapping its usual fee until December 31 for customers who book online.
It's good news for online shoppers and sellers, and anyone working from home – you could be saving £37.44 on postage or £31.20 on returns a year, if you send one parcel a week.
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We've looked into how the service works, if there any exceptions and how you can save on other postal costs.
How does the Royal Mail Parcel Collect service work?
In order to use the service, customers need to ensure they have already paid the correct postage to send their item.
This means if an item doesn't already have a prepaid label you need to go online to Royal Mail where you can work out the correct cost of postage and print out a label, which means you will need a printer.
To use the collection service you then need to book a pick-up slot on Royal Mail's website.
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Both services are available online and on the free Royal Mail app.
The free collection is then automatically added.
You can book collection up to five days in advance and up to midnight the day before.
When you book, you'll be asked for the tracking number on the postage label – this could be an 11, 13 or 21 digit number.
If the item is a return, you need to ensure the reference number is from the label containing the retailer's return address, otherwise the parcel won't be accepted and you may still be charged.
When the item gets collected, you will receive an email notification that acts as proof of postage if you paid for postage yourself.
If the item is a return with prepaid postage, it will be the business that paid for this postage that gets the notification about collection if it's opted in to receive these.
There’s no limit to the number of items you can have collected with Parcel Collect, but if you are sending more than 20 parcels a week, the Royal Mail suggest you should contact them about opening a business account.
But it's important to note that business accounts do not get the free collection.
If you aren't going to be in, you can also leave your parcel in a nominated safe space for collection.
Are there any exclusions?
It's worth noting that you can't use the new service for next day guaranteed delivery, so you'll still need go to the Post Office if you need a speedy arrival.
Parcel Collect also can’t be used to return COVID-19 home test kits – you need to follow the returns instructions on your kit instead.
In addition, the collection service is only for Royal Mail parcels, so you can't use it for deliveries or returns using other couriers, such as Hermes and Yodel.
How can I save on postage costs?
The best way to ensure packages arrive on time is arrive and without costing a bomb, is to send them early.
Royal Mail charges £3 online for a small parcel delivered second class.
This normally arrives in two to three business days.
Next-day special delivery for the same parcel costs £11.05 – this could save you £8.05.
The lighter the parcel, the cheaper it is to send, so keep your item and packaging light.
Sending a 3kg parcel with Royal Mail starts at £8.79 online.
A 2kg parcel costs from just £3.
You could also try leaving your parcels at participating shops to save money.
Couriers collect them in-store rather than from your doorstep.
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But don’t choose the first delivery company you think of and compare prices first on websites such as Parcel2Go and Parcel Monkey.
You could also save any boxes you get from online shopping to reuse as packaging when sending your own parcels to cut back on the cost of buying packaging.
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