Consumers delivered more than 1.1 million complaints on Australia Post during the 2016-17 financial year, with the Commonwealth Ombudsman declaring it needs to ‘stamp out’ its defensive dealings with angry customers.
Amidst the rise in online shopping, the Ombudsman has set out a series of recommendations for the postal service to improve as customers demand quick, cheap and reliable parcel deliveries.
Australians spend more than $40 billion in online shopping each year, with many of the complaints about Australia Post relating to items not being delivered properly.
Commonwealth Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe released the review of Australia Post complaints regarding carding, Safe Drop and compensation, seeking to determine why complaints about delivery issues persist, despite some improvements being made.
Although Australia Post has seen a 30% decrease in complaints over the last two years, the report noted that delivery issues continue to be the primary reason that customers contact the Ombudsman, with the way Australia Post handles angry customers of concern.
“While the scale of Australia Post’s operation needs to be borne in mind to put complaint numbers in perspective, the fact that more than a million people have complained to it is cause for concern,” said Mr Manthorpe.
Common complaints included parcels exposed to weather or left visible to passers-by. Some parcels were claimed to have been stolen and compensation refused. Others alleged Australia Post made no attempt to deliver an item or didn’t leave a pick up card for an item and returned the parcel back to the sender with consumers being unaware the item was awaiting collection.
“The fact that only a small percentage of complainants take their concerns up with this Office is not proof that complainants have left Australia Post’s services in a state of satisfaction,” Mr Manthorpe said.
A number of complaints to the office also report that Australia Post was “defensive” in its dealings and that it was “reluctant” to deal with complaints through the provision of compensation.
“The experience of those who approach our office indicate that if Australia Post put more effort into rapidly resolving, rather than resisting complaints, it would deliver better outcomes for consumers, reduce effort on its part and save money – either its internal costs or the costs incurred by our office,” Mr Manthorpe added.
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Ombudsman calls for improvements to be made
The Ombudsman has delivered a series of recommendations for Australia Post to improve on. It has also suggested a review in how complaints and demands for compensation are dealt with. The report makes six recommendations in total aimed at reducing the number of complaints, with Australia Post accepting five of these and partially accepting the other.
Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate said the company was working on improving complaint processes, particularly through online channels. In an official response attached to the Ombudsman’s report, Australia Post pledged to publish a clear guide on its website about addresses that may not be suitable for parcel delivery, give customers further information, on its website, about the investigation process for missing or lost items and provide further training for all staff responsible for considering compensation claims.