Royal Mail is offering free parcel pick-ups until the end of May.

The company is hoping to generate more business by picking up more parcels.

Three billion parcels are sent across the UK every year.

The company normally charges 72p to pick up a parcel, which is on top of the postage fee.

The Argus: Royal Mail is offering free parcel pick-ups from customers' home in an attempt to boost its delivery businessRoyal Mail is offering free parcel pick-ups from customers' home in an attempt to boost its delivery business

It will waive the pick-up charge until the end of May to get people using the service.

Rivals say Royal Mail is playing catch up with its Parcels Collect service which was launched last October.

Delivery firm Hermes UK said it has been offering a courier collection service for a similar price for more than 10 years.

"The service has always been popular but has been invaluable during the pandemic when people have been encouraged to stay at home," a Hermes spokesperson said.

"Last year we saw 10 million parcels delivered through our Hermes Send service in December 2020 alone as people saw their Christmas plans changed at short notice and were keen to ensure loved ones received their gifts, while following government guidelines."

Royal Mail's doorstep service has picked up a million parcels since being launched six months ago, compared to the 10 million Hermes picked up in December.

"The promotion is an opportunity for all consumers across the UK to try out this service free," said Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail.

"Parcel Collect is part of our commitment to continuously make our services more convenient as we re-invent the way we deliver to and from our customers."

The Argus: Piles of Royal Mail deliveries. Image: PixabayPiles of Royal Mail deliveries. Image: Pixabay

As part of the offer, Royal Mail will collect up to five parcels free from customers' doors or nominated safe place, as long as they've already paid the postage.

Customers need to pay the postage online and print out proof for the parcels.

The home pick-up service is also available free for the next few weeks for pre-paid return items.

The company normally charges 60p per item on top of postage for them.

Royal Mail came under fire over the Christmas period after there were severe delays to deliveries in many areas.

The company blamed "exceptionally high volumes" of seasonal post and anti-Covid measures for the problems.

Last week, there were fresh warnings about a postal scam which tries to trick people into handing over personal details by pretending they owe postage for a non-existent package.