Welfare and business groups say any move by Australia Post to charge a fee for mail delivery would disadvantage low-income earners and regional areas.
In its annual online survey, Australia Post asked customers if they would prefer to have their post delivered three times a week, or pay an annual $30 fee for daily delivery.
South Australia’s Council of Social Service says many people simply cannot afford another expense.
“This is a really important, vital service particularly for people on low incomes who are already having a really hard time with cost of living pressures,” spokesman Ross Wommersley said.
“They rely on Australia Post being able to deliver not just their bills but also a whole lot of other things that help them piece their lives together.
“Adding an additional price to that could in fact be really debilitating.”
The NSW Business Chamber said the introduction of either a fee or periodic delivery would burden business.
“If it did come to fruition… it would certainly ground a lot of commercial progress, not so much to a halt, but it would slow it down,” said spokesman Damian Kelly.
“Particularly regional Australia, and regional New South Wales where I’m from, it would have a dramatic impact on a number of businesses that rely on postage and postage services.”
Multi-million losses from traditional deliveries offset by rise in online shopping
In a statement, Australia Post said the survey was in no way an indication of what may or may not be implemented in the future.
“We recognise our customers’ needs are changing, and every year we ask customers about service preference through surveys,” it said.
“We understand how important it is to give the community a say on the services of Australia Post.”
Australia Post, which delivers more than 93 million items every week, is losing millions of dollars every year on its traditional mail business.
However, those losses are offset by the continual growth in other areas, such as parcel delivery.
The organisation is also suffering due to less reliance on paper and a rise in e-commerce and the online economy.
Consumer group Choice said customers should not be penalised for the company’s financial challenges.
“This is a community service obligation, but we would be even more concerned about the prospect of reducing the quality of this essential service,” spokeswoman Angela Cartwright said.
“So while we recognise the challenges for Australia Post, we don’t think the answer to those challenges – while the organisation remains highly profitable – is to reduce the quality of the service it provides.”
Ms Cartwright said many people still rely on daily mail delivery.
“Until the bulk of the community has switched to electronic communication, Australia Post does provide a vital essential service for many Australians,” she said.