A brief announcement from the Royal Mail posted on its website yesterday has prompted a strong response from many of the postal firm's customers.
The statement said: "Royal Mail does not currently apply a surcharge to the contract prices for letters or parcels. It is considering applying fuel surcharging to some contract parcels products from April 2013."
The most remarkable aspect of the statement, according to seasoned observers and some big Royal Mail customers, is its timing.
Having scrapped a rise due to take effect earlier this month, Chancellor George Osborne has said there are now no plans to raise fuel duty until September at the earliest.
Nevertheless, auction news website Tamebay.com boss Chris Dawson says that, should Royal Mail impose a surcharge, it would merely be following in the footsteps of many of its competitors, and it is a simple way of helping all courier firms cope with continuing fuel price rises.
"The surcharges will simply bring them into line with other carriers," wrote Chris, although he added that one consequence of doing so would be that "[Royal Mail's] business tariffs will become more volatile than consumer rates".
He also pointed out that Royal Mail had changed its own website, adding a fuel surcharge column to its spreadsheet for which online business account holders calculate the cost of their deliveries.