25 centimeters. In the future, a shipment of goods abroad must not be larger on any side. The new format of Deutsche Post is becoming a problem for record dealers – they are fighting back. But there is little to say that the protest was successful.

Music on vinyl – even in times of streaming services, that’s still the only truth for many music fans all over the world.

If record shops in Germany have the rare record they are looking for in stock, the black discs are also often ordered from other countries or from the other side of the world. Deutsche Post AG has been offering “Warenpost international” for this purpose since 2019. Costs: from 3.70 euros without tracking within the European Union to 7.35 euros in all other countries with tracking – cheaper than the shipping of the competitors.

But that should soon be over: From July 1st, the “Warenpost international” will no longer be available in its previous form for records, because the discs will then be too large with a diameter of 30.48 centimeters. One side of the items may then only be 25 centimeters long. So far, the length of 60 centimeters must not be exceeded.

Record dealers – the service is only available to business customers – then have to resort to another, more expensive shipping method, for example the “Päckchen M” from the Post subsidiary DHL, with considerable additional costs. Shipping within the EU is available from EUR 8.89, worldwide delivery costs EUR 15.89 – without tracking. This service costs EUR 2.50 (EU) or EUR 4.00 (other countries) extra.

Record dealer fears for existence

Dirk Borrmann thinks it’s too expensive. He has been running the record shop “Drake Records Vinyl Store” in Cologne-Kalk since 2008 and expects “dramatic problems, especially for small dealers”. If Deutsche Post implements its plan as planned, the record retailer believes that the shipping costs will be twice to three times the price of an average record.

According to him, the “Drake Vinyl Store” made a third of its sales through mail order before the coronavirus pandemic, and in the first quarter of 2022 it was even 70 percent as a result of the long store closures. “There is hardly a worse time than now for the price increase,” says Borrmann. Many of the shipments went to the USA.

The pandemic and a rent increase have already affected his business, now the 48-year-old says: “I’m afraid of going bankrupt”. He also knows many record dealer colleagues, booksellers and owners of antiquarian shops who have similar concerns about a collapse in the mail order business. He describes the Post’s plans as “unacceptable”.

With an online petition, Borrmann calls on Deutsche Post AG to keep the “Warenpost international” at the previous conditions. Around 10,000 people (as of May 23) have already signed, they are worried about the future of the mostly owner-managed record shops.

Deutsche Post AG is sticking to plans

Around 25 kilometers as the crow flies from Borrmann’s 30 square meter shop, in the glass, 162 meter high Bonn Post Tower, everyone knows about the discussion about “Warenpost international”. Alexander Edenhofer is the company’s spokesman and says: “We are aware of the petition and many dealers have also approached us directly.” He points out: “The costs of our partners abroad have increased, so that we have to record considerable cost increases on our part.” The product threatens to become a subsidy business. “We can’t let this go on like this,” explains the Post spokesman in the stern interview.

“We are sorry” for the possible consequences for record dealers, but the cross-border shipment of records is ultimately a very small part of the shipment volume, which is very cost-intensive due to the format in the letter networks. Edenhofer referred to the group’s offers for parcel shipping. The spokesman was not able to name specific prices, these depended, among other things, on the volume of the shipments and the country of destination.

Dirk Borrmann is not convinced. “The quantity-dependent package prices given in a calculator for business customers would only be tenable if you were to send a certain number of shipments a year – at the same time, however, the significantly higher shipping costs will do anything but boost sales,” he says in an interview with the star. “This makes it very unlikely that the minimum amount of shipments will be met.”

The record dealer now wants to turn to the Federal Network Agency – also with his petition. “She is responsible for ensuring shipment at reasonable prices.”

That’s what the Federal Network Agency says about “Warenpost international”

He wouldn’t be the first there. “We have received isolated complaints. The Federal Network Agency is aware of the dealers’ concerns,” the authority explained when asked by stern. But her hands are tied. Consignments of goods are no “postal services that require a license”, it said. In plain language, this means that Deutsche Post does not have to have the Federal Network Agency approve the change to the conditions. The supervisory authority can only intervene in the case of “exploitative, abusive, anti-competitive or discriminatory” fees from a dominant provider. “Currently, however, there are no indications of this,” a spokeswoman for the Federal Network Agency made clear.

The advice of the authority: “Those affected should check whether competitors of Deutsche Post AG offer suitable alternatives.” But a look at the price lists of the companies shows that they will not be able to send their records all over the world as cheaply as they have been doing up to now with Deutsche Post/DHL.

No good prospects for Dirk Borrmann and his colleagues – and Post spokesman Edenhofer cannot give them any hope either. He announces: “We will not change the new conditions for ‘Warenpost international’.”

Sources: Deutsche Post AG/DHL (1), Deutsche Post AG/DHL (2), Deutsche Post AG/DHL (3), online petition, music magazine “Groove”, “Logistik Watchblog”