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Private postmen coming to a street near you

TNT have been allowed to start the post service as a trial, although few expect it to be temporary Photo: ITV News

As the Royal Mail hikes the price of stamps it might not surprise you that they are doing that in part to get the business ready for sell off. It might not surprise you that the government hopes to make that privatisation happens as early as next year.

But it might surprise you to know that there are already private posties delivering to a quarter of a million letterboxes.

TNT, who so far have only been competing in delivering parcels are now sending orange uniformed post men and women onto the streets in London to deliver millions of items of business mail, whether utility bills or credit card statements.

And it's made the Royal Mail furious. They believe it is simply not fair that TNT have been allowed to start this service, as a trial, although few expect it to be temporary.

Their complaint? They are obliged to deliver everywhere for the same price, six days a week whether Cornwall, Orkney or well heeled, densely populated West London. TNT however can ignore the routes that would be massively costly, like far flung Cornwall or Orkney, and just deliver lucrative mail in densely populated areas from healthy corporate clients.

Royal Mail are furious over the new service saying that it 'undermines' their business model Credit: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The Royal Mail told me today this absolutely threatens to undermine their business model, if TNT skims off only the profitable parts. They say that in turn undermines their ability to meet their legal obligation of delivering everywhere. With the amount of mail that actually gets sent shrinking all the time, they can't afford to lose the money making services that help pay for the others. For their part TNT accuse the Royal Mail of being 'cowardly' and afraid of competition.

Ofcom, the regulator do have the powers to intervene, but so far they have not. This battle is only going to intensify as the Royal Mail inches nearer to sell off.