Australia Post was hit with 1.1 million complaints in the 2016–17 financial year amidst the rise in online shopping, and has been criticised by the Commonwealth Ombudsman for being “defensive” in its dealings with angry customers.
The Ombudsman has delivered a series of recommendations for the postal service to improve, as customers demand quick, cheap and reliable parcel delivery services.
Australians are spending more than $40 billion in online shopping, and many of the complaints about Australia Post related to items not being delivered properly.
The Ombudsman’s report noted the number of complaints concerning Australia Post had decreased 30 per cent over the last two years.
“While the scale of Australia Post’s operations need to be borne in mind to put complaint numbers in perspective, the fact that more than one million people have complained to it is cause for concern,” it said.
Complaints ranged from customers alleging Australia Post had not tried to deliver their parcels to their houses, and merely dropped them at the nearest post office for pick-up, to claims parcels had been stolen when left at delivery addresses and compensation had been refused.
The report suggested that drop in complaints was not cause for celebration, and instead was critical of the way Australia Post handled angry customers.
“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,” the Ombudsman said.
Numerous complainants to our office report that Australia Post was defensive in its dealings with them, or that Australia Post was reluctant to adequately deal with their complaints, including 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.”
Ombudsman calls for review of processes
The Commonwealth Ombudsman has called on Australia Post to improve the advice it gives customers about whether the address they list for delivery is appropriate, to avoid complaints about parcels being sent to the nearest post office for collection.
It has also called on the organisation to review how it deals with complaints and demands for compensation.
Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate accepted “the majority of recommendations” in the report and 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
- provide further training for all staff responsible for considering compensation claims
Ms Holgate also noted that Australia Post was already working on improvements in some of the areas outlined in the ombudsman’s report after an internal review.