On Australia Post’s unreliable mail redirection

Having moved houses recently, we needed mail to be redirected for some time, to give us the opportunity to catch accounts where the address hadn’t been updated yet. It worked well with Australia Post in the past. This time, it ended up being a symphony, or rather, a cacophony, of failures.

We paid about $50 to get the redirection going for 3 months. We readily received letters at the old address informing us that it had been set up properly. We could expect no less.

As it turns out, we shouldn’t have expected any more. Indeed, after a few weeks at the new address, the amount of mail we received was noticeably lower than usual. What was more conspicuous by its near absence (there were a couple here and there) was the lack of redirected mail.

When a belated parcel arrived at the old address, we got an opportunity to make sure. We went to our old address, met the new tenants, and asked whether they had received any mail for us.  … drum roll … They had. Heaps. Including slips for registered mail containing important administrative documents.

We were lucky enough that, despite it being past the date at which the document was to be returned to its sender if not collected, what might appear to be a plague of incompetence—or is it plain laziness?—resulted in said document being still stored at the local post office.

Half of the period in, and many more un-redirected than properly delivered letters, we decided to make a complaint to AusPost. The person on the phone was pleasant and understanding enough, and readily opened an enquiry and offered a pro-rata refund.

A couple of weeks later, we were informed that the problem had been investigated and resolved, and that the duration of the redirection would be extended by half at no charge. Good enough.

Yet, oddly little (read: none) redirected mail arrived. Reaching the end of the original redirection period, we decided to check again at the old address. Once again, there were quite a few letters for us there, which had obviously failed to be redirected… Again. Amusingly, an urgent reminder to pick up the previously mentioned document, dated after the date we collected it, was amongst them.

When we called AusPost again to get this fixed, we had a simple request: we wanted a full refund for a service that hadn’t been rendered, and due to which we had to waste some time driving back and forth to collect mail, and on the phone to get the issue sorted.

It wasn’t so easy, though. The first person on the phone was understanding of the problem, but put somebody else on to deal with it. The second person explained that they couldn’t refund us until the redirection was cancelled. The cancellation, however, couldn’t happen over the phone, and we needed to go to a Post Office—well—office to cancel it, we would then be given a receipt number that we’ll have call back and quote, to the same service. No way to get the refund from the Post Office at the time of cancellation the non-existent service.

The best part, of course, is that a confused attendant at the Post Office ended up calling the same customer support line to be told, about an hour in (no line jumping for colleagues), that they had to fill in a form they had somewhere or rather.

Still, despite being on the phone with the very service presumably able to process the refund, it was not possible to do it straight-away, and an additional three business days’ wait was needed after submitting the cancellation form.

After a couple more days, we decided to call again, to make sure progress was being made on the refund. It turned out it was! Even more so, and despite previous instructions during the second call to AusPost, there was no need for us to call back, as they had a ticket tracking the issue on their side. Apparently not as resolved as we initially thought…

Finally, information about the refund came shortly after. It would come in the form of a mail order… That we would have to go to a post office once more to cash…

All in all, lot of time was wasted in queues, either at an Australia Post office, or on the phone, trying to just get things sorted, and not succeeding. With increased costs for reduced services, Australia Post was already showing an annoying trend. However, this level of unreliability is becoming very concerning. Despite a move to electronic communication, we still rely on the occasional hard-copy or other good to be delivered physically, but this sort of demonstration of skill does not inspire trust.

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