Thursday, 4 October 2012
A Curse on Australia Post
For some unseen reason, Australia Post seems to be desperate. The problem is that it’s throwing its desperation at us.
The first manifestation of this desperation arrived upon our move back home from the place we rented. As required by the real estate agent, I filed a request to transfer my post from the rental place to our old/new home.
Shortly after filling this application in we started receiving junk mail claiming to be directed at us from Australia Post. We also started receiving “help packages” from Australia Post, designed to help us with the move. In practical terms, by the way, this "help" meant more junk mail. That raised the question: WTF?
I checked the forms I filed with Australia Post for the mail forwarding services. They say “check here if you do not want to receive marketing material” (you got to love those double negatives!), which I checked. They also clearly say “sign here if you want help with the move”, which I clearly did not sign. So what is going on here?
The letters offering us help with the move come with a phone number one can call to ask for this “help” to cease. I called the number and the first option presented to me was “dial 1 to request Australia Post to stop sending marketing material”; I dialed 1. Then I was asked to enter all sorts of numbers identifying me, and then I was automatically transferred to an entirely different help line where I spoke with a person. A person who seemed obviously ignorant of the whole junk mail cessation process. It took me 15 minutes over the phone to explain the problem, get them to seem to understand what I’m complaining about, and get them to say they will do something about it.
To summarize: Australia Post unilaterally decided to sell me a service I specifically asked not to receive and then made it hard for me to stop receiving the service. I am not the only victim here: there are companies out there that paid Australia Post to deliver me something I did not want.
The second sign of Australia Post desperation took place today before my wife’s eyes. A delivery van parked at our driveway and left a note in our post box. Turns out, according to the note, that Australia Post tried to deliver us a package but we weren’t home, so they left us a note. Only that they never really tried to deliver the package, they only left us a note saying so!
Worse, we are now required to pick the package up ourselves from a post office that is not the one near us but rather one that is several kilometers away. In other words, great service all around!
I don’t necessarily blame the courier with everything here. It seems obvious they are only responding to the unworkable quotas put on them by Australia Post. Given these couriers are now driving generic vans, it seems obvious the whole affair has been outsourced and some severe throat cutting is taking place all around.
But wait, the story hasn't finished yet. We called Australia Post to ask them to transport the package to the post office near us; we were told to call again after 14:00, when the package was expected to be delivered to the faraway post office.
We called again. This time we were told it would cost us $6 to have our package transported to a nearby post office. We explained it was their own fault, to which the initial answer was that we are to blame for the courier not being able to deliver the package in the first place. We were told that "they are not allowed to open gates", which is either bullshit (they used to open our gate all the time) or a brand new regulation designed to save time.
When we continued pressing the matter over the phone we were told that there are three post offices "at our vicinity", and that as far as Australia Post is concerned a package for us may be left in either three. Note how elegantly Australia Post has been dealing with us: they invented a new regulation (new, because we used to always receive our deferred packages at our nearby post office), and applied it in a manner that cannot be challenged by us little folk. Given the address of the post office was printed (not handwritten) on the back of the card the courier left us, their plan is obvious: concentrate everything in one place so as to save the courier time. Who cares about measly things such as service, or accommodating for the needs of the public - the people that actually own Australia Post?
The lesson I take from this is to try and minimize my interaction with the obviously desperate Australia Post. The problem is that it’s not like I, or any other Australian for that matter, has much of a choice. No, I don’t think competition and the free market could solve this problem; I think Australia Post simply needs to be allowed to do what it should be doing instead of having it turned into a “for profit” enterprise. Australia Post is not for profit; it’s for us!
Image by Leshaines123, Creative Commons license