Booksellers (and book-buyers), do you have customers (or relations) in Iraq, Iran, India or Pakistan? If so when you agree to ship using Royal Mail’s ‘International Economy’ (the old Surface mail), look up the rates on Royal Mail’s ‘Price-finder’ and discover that they are not there, don’t panic!
I had orders from Japan and India over this last weekend, both asking for shipping by International Economy. I looked up the current shipping rates on the Royal Mail Price-finder as I usually double check before processing overseas orders (it can be expensive if you don’t). It was fine to Japan but when it came to India the International Economy service does not seem to exist. Of course there is no-one to ask at customers services on a Sunday but today I phoned and queried what was happening.
I expected to be told that there was a glitch somewhere in the software but no, Royal Mail’s representative told me that it is a deliberate policy to discourage shipping by this method. They assured me that the service still exists but told me that they would rather you used International Standard (Airmail and more expensive) and so they don’t quote the International Economy rate to this destination in their online price-finder.
I checked further and this policy seems to affect a block of countries: Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and India but not those countries bordering this block. International Economy is still quoted to Jordan, Syria, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma).
I thought the Royal Mail’s price-finder was provided to help customers, not confuse them but after their introduction of what seems to be the two different but apparently infinitely variable add-on facilities of ‘International Tracked’ and ‘International Tracked and Signed’, which confuse even the Post Office staff, I suppose anything is possible. Hiding economy shipping rates seems a very odd policy but I have never been able to fathom some of the thinking behind many corporate decisions anyway. Life’s too short!