Can you tell me exactly what it means to be an Agency Customer?
This is a contractual arrangement through which an Access Contract holder - a licensed postal operator or an intermediary - can act as a sending customer's formal agent for DSA postal items (Letter and Large Letters). As a result of the Agency Contract option being available, the Agency customer is charged for the postage element of a mailing by Royal Mail, whose services are exclusive of VAT. Importantly, it is the responsibility of the Access Contract holder to ensure Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) accepts that the basis of the overall contractual arrangements - which are not limited to the agent's contract with Royal Mail Wholesale - enable VAT exempt status.
Who can have an Agency Contract option?
Any operator or intermediary who can meet the entry criteria has the choice of signing an Agency Schedule to allow agency customers to post via their Access Letters Contract.
What relationship with Royal Mail Wholesale does the Agency Customer have?
It is an 'arms length' relationship, as the point of the Agency Contract option is for the Agency Customer to appoint an agent to deal with the relationship with Royal Mail Wholesale. So, various things are not available for agency customers. For example, you will not have regular monthly performance meetings with Royal Mail Wholesale where Wholesale's, your carrier's and your own actual performance is discussed and improvement plans developed. Also, monthly Quality of Service figures will be provided by Royal Mail Wholesale to your agent for your agent's overall postings but not for your own mail discretely. And you will not have access to Royal Mail Wholesale for discussions on either day-to-day issues or new service developments that you may wish to develop with Royal Mail.
As a customer sending mail, I might be interested in talking to a carrier about acting as my agent - which companies have an Agency Contract?
We are not at liberty to publish this information but we expect that most postal operators or intermediaries will consider taking one out. Details of operators who hold a postal licence are on the Ofcom website. Any carrier can be expected to answer a question about whether or not they have an Agency Contract.
Who do I contact to be set up as an Agency Customer?
Your agent will provide you with a copy of an Agency Customer Agreement and will submit an online application on your behalf. Upon receipt of your application, Royal Mail Wholesale will verify the information and complete a credit check. On successful completion of the credit check Royal Mail Wholesale will email you and ask you to accept the Agency Customer terms. When you have accepted the Agency Customer terms Royal Mail Wholesale will send you and your agent details of your credit account and the date that you can start to use the account. This process may take up to 28 days, so please allow sufficient time when planning your first agency posting.
What Quality of Service figures does Royal Mail Wholesale provide?
Royal Mail Wholesale publishes its Quality of Service results on its website every quarter. These results relate to performance between the point of handover to Royal Mail up to and including delivery to the delivery address. These results are measured independently by Quotas. Royal Mail Wholesale does not provide any information to senders of mail posting through a third party, whether or not that third party is formally an agent. However, monthly Quality of Service figures will be provided by Royal Mail Wholesale to your agent in relation to their overall postings if they submit seeds as part of Research International's survey.
Would I get any personalised management information from Royal Mail Wholesale if I post as an Agency Customer?
No. An agent will consolidate your mail with its other agency customers, so your mail will not be distinguishable from other senders' mail using the same agent. Therefore, it's not possible for Royal Mail Wholesale to provide any discrete management information to you or to your agent on your performance or areas for improvement.
Will I have any kind of direct contact with Royal Mail Wholesale for my mail under an Agency Agreement?
For mail posted under an Agency Agreement, your contact will be your agent, who has the direct relationship with Royal Mail Wholesale on business as usual matters. There are provisions for direct contact with Royal Mail Wholesale within the contractual terms, but this tends to be on the request of an Agency Customer.
If my mail is mixed in with other agency customers' mail, is there a risk that I might have to pay a surcharge?
Arrangements for the payment of surcharges are a matter between the agency customer and their agent. This is because the only knowledge that Royal Mail Wholesale has of agency customers' postings is what their agent declares on the Agency Report. Royal Mail will only raise an invoice to the agency customer for surcharges based on the information provided by the agent.
How does invoicing work for an Agency Customer?
Royal Mail Wholesale raises an invoice to the agent based on all of the volumes and services posted each day, which are detailed on the agreed daily Client Report. If the agent declares any agency customer postings for that day on its Agency Report, discrete invoices will be raised per agency customer (and the agent would be credited for that day's agency postings it declares). Royal Mail, if instructed, will send an agency customer's invoices to its agent, for the agent to pay on its customer's behalf. Ultimately, though, the debt liability to Royal Mail rests with the agency customer.
If I have any queries regarding my postings, who should I contact?
Please contact your agent. They will have all the details of your postings and will know your specific details such as unique bag numbers, posting dates and docket numbers. They will contact Royal Mail on your behalf if necessary.
Will I still have to forecast if I become an agency customer?
As an agency customer, you do not have to complete the Royal Mail systems' forecast, but your agent will still need to submit an accurate forecast to Royal Mail for their overall mailing volumes
on any one day so that Royal Mail can appropriately resource up to that volume. If a posting submitted by the agent is +/- 15% outside of their forecast at any Inward Mail Centre, Royal Mail may charge for reasonable costs incurred or hold a proportion of the posting if it cannot process it.
If my mail is mixed with mail from my agent's other customers, does this mean that, although my mail was properly prepared, it might be delayed because another customer has made an error?
Yes it might. Should another customer's mail, presented by your agent on its own account, be found to be outside of specification then it is possible that the agent's whole daily posting may need to be held over or returned. If this did happen, your mail also may be delayed.
 There is a specified exception to this general position: for the named customers in the Agency Contract a discrete forecast and upload are required for their pre-sorted Agency Postings that are >500 bags a day.