Royal Mail Strikes: what are the alternatives when posting Christmas parcels?

With Royal Mail strikes now on, we look at the alternatives when it comes to posting your Christmas parcels and how prices compare?

Courier handing over package asking customer to do electronic signature
(Image credit: Getty images)

With Royal Mail strikes causing major delays to cards and parcels, there is a risk your parcel may not get delivered on time. So what is the alternative and how much will it cost?

Strikes are due on 14, 15, 23 and 24 December and many online stores are warning shoppers that orders could be delayed. Even the last posting dates for second class mail or parcels have already been and gone – it was Monday 12 December and for first class it’s Friday 16 December.

What are the alternatives to Royal Mail?

If you have parcels to send, instead of taking a trip to the Post Office and taking a chance, you could use another service. Depending on which one you choose, it could even work out a lot cheaper than the Royal Mail option. You can check Royal Mail prices using the price finder tool (opens in new tab) on its website.

While it comes to courier companies like DPD, DHL,  Evri and Yodel you can check prices and book a delivery through the individual website, but you can also use  a comparison service like both Parcelmonkey (opens in new tab) and Parcel2Go (opens in new tab), which can save time and may throw up options for cheaper companies you weren’t aware of.

What’s the cheapest service to send a parcel?

Most of the services we looked at on the comparison sites offer a range of delivery options from same day to next day and priority service, which is usually before 9am the next day.   

One way to easily find the cheapest delivery service is to check the ‘popular’ option tab on the Parcelmonkey website. Services listed are typically up to three days depending on the provider, using a tracked service. But, in most cases you’ll need to drop off your parcel at a designated local delivery spot.  

This can be much easier than making a trip to your local Post Office. Evri for example has 7,000 drop off points across the UK, many of which are in newsagents, convenience stores or petrol stations and tend to have far longer opening hours than your local Post Office.

We looked at each provider’s cheapest service when sending a parcel up to 3kg in weight.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CompanyServicePrice including VATDetails
YodelYodel Economy Drop Off£7.19 Drop off at around 6,000 UK locations
EvriDrop off
2-3 days tracked
£7.56 Drop your parcel at an Evri parcel shop – 7,000 across the UK
UPS Access Point1-2 days drop off service£7.67Drop off your parcel at a UPS Access Point. Includes convenience shops and stores.
DHLNext day drop off Tracked & Signed for£9.18Drop your parcel at a DHL Parcel UK ServicePoint. 3,500 across the UK
ParcelForceExpress 48£9.23Drop off at a Post Office
DPDDPD Drop off
(1-2 days drop off service)
£9.40Drop your parcel at 6,000 locations including Sainsbury’s,, Matalan and Co-op stores.
DXNext day
(Driver brings the label)
£10.79Parcel collected from your door.

Source Parcelmonkey.co.uk

Cheapest next day delivery services

If you want the cheapest next day delivery we found you can pay from £9.83 for a 3kg parcel to up to a whopping £29 -  nearly three times as much, depending on the provider and service.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ProviderServicePrice
DHL DHL Parcel UK Next Day Tracked & Signed for£9.83
DXDX Next Day
(Driver brings label)
£10.79
ParcelForceExpress 24 Collection Service£11.04
ParcelForceSaturday Delivery Collection Service £24.19
ParcelForceSunday Delivery Collection Service£29.03

Source – Parcelmonkey.co.uk 

Some delivery companies like DPD have withdrawn its ‘next day delivery’ service across some areas. This is because it’s unable to cope with a backlog of parcels and has published a list (opens in new tab) of areas experiencing delivery delays of up to three days. 

What to check with parcel delivery services

Do check prices carefully with courier comparison services. With Parcelmonkey - the bold headline price tends to be exclusive of VAT – so you need to look for the smaller price underneath which includes VAT so you’re not caught out.   

In most cases you can get an initial quote for delivery based on the weight of your parcel, rather than the dimensions, which can be added later.

Most services offer compensation from £20 – which may not be sufficient to cover the cost of the contents depending on what you’re sending.  However you can usually opt to pay more for increased compensation – typically up to £1,000. 

If you’re the victim of a missed or late delivery and expecting a parcel which doesn’t arrive on the promised date – you should always contact the retailer rather than the courier company.   This is because if you’ve paid for a service – your contract is with the retailer.

Sue Hayward
contributor

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound.  Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!