Australia Post Above the Law?

AusPost have been great in the past, but not so much when things go wrong. Until March this year, the only articles to go missing seemed to be cheques payable to The Git!

The Git purchases many items online, mainly because in a rural part of Tasmania there are usually no other sources. Some items do not appear to be available even in the capital city! So, for the best part of 50 years The Git had no complaint about AusPost; rather the reverse. Then in March a tracked item was not available at the local PO. The Post Mistress told me there had been a burglary and the item arrived at the PO on the day before the burglary. She told me that I should contact AusPost for compensation ($50 for an item that cost me $69.85).

After two failed attempts at being connected to a human being using the phone number the Post Mistress had given me (the calls dropped out after an hour), The Git decided to try his luck online. Eventually he managed to leave a message regarding the missing item. AusPost’s response was:

…this item is waiting collection at the FRANKLIN Post Office from the 24/03/2015. This item will be held for you to pick up for 10 business days. Jonathan, I am sorry if you have not been left a card waiting collection from the Franklin Post Office. However, you can go and pick your parcel up just make sure you have some identification when you do.

The issue was marked: “Resolved”. Not only had The Git received the card, but two separate emails from AusPost that the item was available for collection!

The Git left rather a terse response about the difficulty of collecting an item that had been stolen. He received no response to this. Having discovered that AusPost is just as subject to Australian Consumer Law as any other business, he left a further message stating that if he received no response within 24 hours he would initiate legal action. The following day The Git was told:

We have confirmed that the theft from the Franklin LPO was within the timeframe that the article was Awaiting Collection for you. The police have attended the incident and unfortunately no article has currently been recovered.

In regards to compensation, as the article was not delivered then it is the Sender that would need to lodge a compensation claim with Australia Post. We would advise for you to contact the sender of the item and have them contact us quoting this case number ******** for reference.

So, it would seem that the vendor, who is not out of pocket, can be compensated. The intended recipient of the goods is not so entitled. This seems very arse-backwards. And why was The Git not informed on either the first, or second query that he should contact the vendor for recompense rather than AusPost whose care the item was in?

From AusPost’s response to past missing items to the vendor:

As your parcel was sent without cover, you are ineligible for any compensation.

AusPost clearly believe they are above the law. Standard letters and parcels are compensated at a maximum of $50, a rate set in 1987! Registered articles are compensated at a maximum of $100. Extra Cover (insurance) is only needed for items valued up to $5,000. See Postal Industry Ombudsman—Australia Post.

There’s a general principle in insurance called insurable interest. To insure goods, you must have an insurable interest in the goods. That is, you must be either the owner, or have them in your possession. In this instance, The Git became the owner after paying the vendor. The possessor was AusPost. Any insurable interest that the vendor had evaporated when AusPost took possession. At this point the vendor has fulfilled all obligation in regard to Australian Consumer Law. The vendor cannot be held responsible for what AusPost does from this point in time.

However, AusPost’s Terms and Conditions state:

Australia Post will not be liable for loss or damage arising from or caused by:
68.1.1 the injury, illness or death of any person;
68.1.2 misdelivery including delivery otherwise than to the addressee, delayed delivery, early delivery or failure to deliver any letter or article;
68.1.3 damage to the contents of an article whether concealed or otherwise, including but not limited to deterioration, contamination or evaporation of any article or thing; or
68.1.4 any other loss or damage of any kind, however caused and whether direct or consequential, including, but not limited to, negligence or breach of contract by Australia Post, its employees, servants or agents, that arises in whole or in part from, or in connection with, any services provided by Australia Post.

Australian Consumer Law states:

What are consumer guarantees?

When a consumer buys goods or services, the ACL provides that they will have guaranteed rights that:

• the supplier has the right to sell the goods;
• the goods are of acceptable quality;
• the goods match their description;
• the goods are fit for any purpose that the consumer makes known to the supplier;
• the repairs and spare parts are reasonably available;
• the services are carried out with reasonable care and skill; and
• the services are completed within a reasonable time.

Based on past experience with the vendor, the first five points were met by the vendor. The final two points are clearly not the vendor’s responsibility. The vendor used a portion of the moneys conveyed by The Git for the performance of delivery with due care by AusPost. AusPost’s Terms and Conditions are clearly in conflict with Australian Consumer Law that was designed to prevent the bully-boy tactics that Australia Post is using. Ever so many episodes of The Checkout point out the illegality of making claims contrary to the ACL. Perhaps it’s time they took AusPost to task for doing precisely that!

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