Sunday, 18 May 2014

Dialog with Australia Post


Readers of this blog will know of my ongoing love affair with Australia Post. After all, it has been well documented (starting here, then here, and also here). As the administrator of this blog, I can report these Australia Post related posts happen to be quite popular, hits wise. I therefore want to use this forum to report the dialog I recently had with Australia Post and let you draw your own conclusions.

The story, this time around, started on a day I was sick and stayed home. In the afternoon I went out to check my mailbox, only to find one of those cards informing me the postman was here with a package that could not be delivered (because I wasn't home, of course). I now had to pick the package up from an Australia Post outlet.
Let us ignore the fact I was actually home and could have taken the package were the postman to actually knock on my door. Instead, let us focus on the other problem, the recurring problem I have reported here before: this Australia Post outlet, the one I was supposed to pick the package from? It was not the outlet that's 200 meters away from my house; nor was it the outlet that's 2 kilometres away. It was rather the one that is 3 kilometres away!
It gets worse. According to the card, I had only 5 days to pick the package before it was returned to its sender. Even worse, that 3km outlet is only open Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. In other words, if I want to pick my package up, I need to do so rather quickly, and in the process I would have to miss out on work.
When I attended said 3km outlet I did what I usually do at an Australia Post outlet: I complained. Only that this time around the answer was rather interesting: the people at the outlet were just as puzzled as I was at the sight of me attending their humble abode. They gave me my package, claiming it was a postman's error.
With no one to turn to, I set my frustrations free through Twitter. I have done it before; however, this time around I actually received replies from Australia Post. Following is our Twitter exchange, embedded from Twitter (which means that parts can disappear if either I or Australia Post delete our tweets):

  • Your truly:
  • Australia Post:


  • Your truly:

  • Australia Post:


  • Your truly:

  • Australia Post:


I will let you judge Australia Post's replies for yourself. Personally, I took note of the following:
  1. I'd like to note I did not take note of Australia Post's spelling errors. These are common in Twitter exchanges, especially when typed on a phone.
  2. Up until now, the only form of reply I received from Australia Post was through their call centres. These, however, were more into getting rid of me rather than replying to me; it is therefore nice to see someone from Australia Post actually trying to address my complaint through arguments. Definitely an improvement.
  3. When all is said and done, it seems clear to me that my problems - and the problems of many others whose feedback I gathered - are the direct result of Australia Post's attempts to cut costs. More specifically, they are to do with outsourcing their services, in this particular case couriering. It is obvious the couriers are not measured on good service, but rather on throughput.
What do the above conclusions imply? In my opinion, they are indications of privatisation gone wrong. Just as Melbourne's public transport system offers poor levels of service, despite usually standing up to government KPIs, so do Australia Post's outsourced services suck. And I wouldn't be surprised at all if I was to learn that the Nathan answering my tweets is a member of some sort of an outsourced PR team.
The remedy is obvious. Australia Post's core services, such as postal delivery, should be handled in house. Like all core infrastructure services, such as roads and communications, there is little to be gained from privatisation. There is, however, much to lose.


Image by Arturo de Albornoz, Creative Commons licence

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