I've had an email, from a sub-postmistress of long standing, accusing the Post Office/Royal Mail of being the main competition out there. She writes: "An office can expand its work via many of the Post Office-driven items. However, each and every one will at some point be scrutinised and subjected to a direct approach."

She maintains that the Post Office obtains information about her direct customers from documents she has submitted, "thus cutting the sub-postmasters out of the chain".

She adds: "Royal Mail is a main source of competition in that, if you attract a business customer on a regular basis, then they will do their utmost to identify the source and then go direct to that business with offers, expecting in some cases for the postmaster to accept these deals from direct approaches with no payment."

I asked her what sort of deals and she replied that Royal Mail offers discounted franking machines and lower costs of postage and offers to pick the post up directly from the business.

I rang the Royal Mail's press office and was told that Royal Mail doesn't get involved in franking and that I would be better off speaking to the Federation.

I rang a spokesman for the NFSP and, on request, emailed him the text for some sort of comment and I notified my e-correspondent.

He came back saying that "on this occasion the NFSP has declined to comment".

Meanwhile, my emailer had foreseen this response. She wrote: "As to Royal Mail and the franking, they offer a business discounted franking machines and waive the postage cost for a period of inducement to get them to change from using post offices. I am a member of the NFSP they will back up Royal Mail against its members."

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