Personal correspondence

For reasons that need not detain us, I needed to post a DVD to Greece on Friday. The man at Hebden Bridge Post Office weighed the slim envelope, consulted his computer, and told me that the postage would be £1.28. Bargain!

Then the man flexed the corner of the envelope suspiciously. “Have you enclosed a letter in here?” he asked.

Ha! Not catching me out with that one! “Oh, no,” I replied, quite truthfully, “it's just a DVD, nothing else!”

The man then re-consulted his computer, and told me that the postage would actually be £5.xx. I didn't catch the exact amount, as I went into shock after the words five pounds.

The man explained that, had the envelope contained a letter as well as a DVD, it would count as personal correspondence. Without such a letter, it was classified as a small package. Small packages cost more to send than personal correspondence. Considerably more, apparently.

What?” I whatted. “It costs £4 more to send exactly the same envelope without a letter than it does with a letter?!”

The man nodded.

I looked him straight in the eyes. “That's BONKERS!” I observed.

The look on the man's face told me two things: 1) I was by no means the first customer to make this observation, and 2) he agreed.

I then has a brain-wave and disclosed, once again quite truthfully, that I had, in fact, written in pen on front of the DVD. I asked if this didn't make the DVD itself into personal correspondence. The man confirmed my suspicion that it didn't.

So, I took my envelope back, went home, opened it, took out the DVD, addressed a brand new envelope, inserted the DVD and a note to the recipient saying words to the effect of “By enclosing this note, I am saving ⅔ of the postage. I trust you are well.”, sealed the envelope, wrote the words PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE! on the bottom, returned to the Post Office, and announced, “I'd like to send some personal correspondence to Greece, please.”

It cost me £1.28.

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. Another useful trick is to put things in the right shaped box/envelope for UK mail. Put two CDs on top of each other in a small jiffy bag and it costs £3 because it is fat enough to be a 'small parcel.' Put them side by side in a larger jiffy bag and it costs £1.20 as a large letter. Simples.

  2. One day, when we all have jetpacks and hoverboots, someone will get round to properly addressing this issue. Perhaps they will invent a way of taking the contents of a DVD and encoding it all digitally, so that it might be sent using electronic networks of some kind. Science fiction, but it's fun to dream, no?

    1. An excellent idea, which I shall patent if you don't. However, as to the case in hand, Greece would presumably have to have access to said electronic networks, which would require them to have access to electricity. You haven't thought this one through, have you?

  3. You're right, I hadn't. But on reflection, it's not such a crazy idea. They could harness Greece lightening.

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