OBN Financial Services Blog

Freepost – it’s free but it certainly isn’t cheap!

Here’s something you might not know which is worth bearing in mind when responding to important correspondence. If the reply you are sending is in any way time critical – don’t use the Freepost envelope enclosed.

An article in yesterday’s edition of the Sunday Times describes how 5,000 Irish shareholders of Standard Life are being hit with extra tax due to a postal delay. The company was returning £1.75 bn to shareholders after completing the sale of its operations in Canada. Its 60,000 Irish shareholders should have been able to avoid tax on most or all of the money by telling the company that they wanted the payment treated as capital, prior to 18 March. A Freepost envelope was included in the correspondence issued to customers. More than 5,000 shareholders missed the deadline making them liable to tax on the payment averaging €700.

The service in question is called the International Business Reply Service, known to most as Freepost. An Post have provided no explanation for the delays but have stated that it has legal immunity from liability for losses caused by postal delays. They say that “it’s is a matter for the customer to select the service that best suits their needs” and “in this case the IBRS may not have best suited customers requirements”. Understatement or what?

Ironically, even this morning, An Post’s website states the following regarding their Business Reply service;

Need to get your customers to respond to you quickly? Try An Post’s range of Business Response Services.

The moral of the story is, if it’s urgent, buy a stamp.

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