Size matters for Deutsche Post

Warning sign: not enough stamps

Warning sign: not enough stamps

Sometimes I still send what some now know as snail mail. You know, a piece of paper with lettering on it, printed or hand written, folded to fit in an envelop, and on that envelop an address. Or maybe two: one to where the letter should be sent, and one to send it back to in case it’s not deliverable, or some other problem raises its head.

In the places I’ve lived in, the postage, or the fee you pay to have your piece of mail delivered, depends largely on the weigth of the package. As long as it fits in the standard mail box, that is. So, sending a one-page, A4 size letter would cost the same whether you take an envelop for which you have to fold the letter twice, in three, just once or not at all. Apparently not so in Germany.

Today we received a letter. To be more precise: we received a letter we had sent the day before yesterday. On it featured a bright yellow sticker, explaining that due to the size of the envelop, we had not put enough postage on it. We were short 2 Euro and 70 cents. I had put a 75 cent stamp on the letter, because I thought that was the amount due for letters weighing not more than 20 grammes, which one sheet of A4 size paper in an envelop usually does. And that is indeed the required postage, if the envelop is not bigger than an A4 folded in half twice (you get roughly A6 size) or folded in three (I guess that’s B6 or C6, in any case: the official maximum dimensions of an envelop for this rate are 23,5 cm x 12,5 cm). If the envelop has the size of an A4 folded in half (A5), then you have to pay 3,45 EURO. Yes, that’s right. Simply using another size of cover, will mean you have to pay more than four-and-a-half times as much!

To be fair to Deutsche Post, the postage is explained quite precisely on their website. Still, I find it hard to understand why sending the same letter in a different size envelop can be so much more costly. I’m a fan of price differentiation as a marketing tool, but this difference seems too random to be justified. I really would like to know what’s behind it. So if you have any thoughts on that, or an inside view…

In any case, it’s a good thing to know for when you find yourself needing to send something via post in Germany.