A two-month campaign by BHETA on a proposed change to Royal Mail’s age verification policy for the delivery of bladed items has led to a climbdown by the postal service.

Royal Mail had originally proposed the termination of its current low-cost age-verified service which would have left smaller UK suppliers and retailers with no financially viable alternative means of delivering legitimate product safely to age-verified customers.  Alternative delivery companies either charge prohibitive rates for age verification or impose minimum quantity criteria which are too high for smaller suppliers and retailers to use.

BHETA campaigned Royal Mail to change their stance on delivery of bladed items

Such a move would potentially have financially crippled many UK housewares sellers of legitimate products such as kitchen knives, pen knives and cutlery, and encouraged more unscrupulous suppliers to sell bladed articles without age verification.

BHETA was made aware of the disastrous possible impact for the UK home improvement and home enhancement industries two months ago.  It immediately communicated with Adrian Baker – UK products director Royal Mail and raised the issue in a meeting with the minister for policing and OFCOM at the Home Office, as well as providing members with the means to lobby their MPs on the subject.

Royal Mail has now backed down and pledged to continue its age-verified postal delivery service, along with a new policy that from 7 May, it will no longer handle any newly prohibited items, this placing clear distance between legitimate bladed products for household use and other items which could pose a danger to the public.

BHETA’s chief operating officer, Will Jones explained, “BHETA has long campaigned on behalf of suppliers and retailers of legitimate bladed household items to distinguish products such as secateurs and cutlery from the kinds of bladed items associated with the scourge of knife crime. 

“When were we made aware at the start of February that Royal Mail was planning to terminate its age verification service from 22April this year, we moved swiftly to ensure this did not happen.  Following a combination of communications with Royal Mail direct, lobbying via members’ MPs and a meeting with the Home Office, BHETA is delighted to confirm that the Royal Mail age verification service has been reinstated.

“Had it gone ahead, not only would the cessation have posed a massive commercial threat to UK suppliers and retailers of kitchen knives and cutlery, as well as inconveniencing consumers who would no longer have been able to return such products easily, but it would have opened the doors to unscrupulous and unregulated overseas suppliers of potentially dangerous products to enter the UK market without checks or safeguards.  On all fronts therefore – commercial, consumer and in terms of societal responsibility, BHETA is delighted that Royal Mail has seen sense on this issue.”

Steve Richardson, BHETA’s marketing director added, “A key role of a trade association is to lobby on the industry’s behalf and we are so pleased to have campaigned on an issue where real change has been made for our members and the wider industry. It is very heartening to see what businesses can achieve when they work together.”

Alastair Fisher, managing director of BHETA member and kitchen knife supplier, Taylors Eye Witness, said: “This is wonderful news which comes as a great relief for many of our smaller customers.  It is thanks to BHETA and the many businesses that made their views known.  Special mention also to Sheffield MPs Paul Blomfield and Clive Betts.”

For more information about BHETA lobbying and BHETA services, visit the BHETA website www.bheta.co.uk or contact BHETA Member Services on 0121 237 1130.

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