Australia Post and its subsidiary StarTrack (Australia Post Group) have been found liable for about $2.9 million in compensation after admitting they likely engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct over lost parcels.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission said Australia Post Group agreed it failed to accept compensation requests, and that it incorrectly advised some business customers that no compensation was available for lost or damaged articles over a four-year period to October 2022.
An ACCC statement says that, as a result, Australia Post Group has undertaken to provide the $2.9 million compensation to about 10,500 affected business contract customers and fewer than 1000 recipients of StarTrack deliveries.
It says that, “under the consumer guarantee rights in the Australian Consumer Law, consumers can request a remedy if a product is not of acceptable quality or a service is not performed with due care and skill, fit for purpose or supplied within a reasonable time”.
“The law exempts certain transport services for the purpose of a business. In October 2018, that exemption was amended with the effect that from that time, consumer guarantee rights applied to the transport of goods to a recipient who is not carrying on a business in relation to the goods.”
It found that “Australia Post Group failed to apply the amended exemption correctly, and on that basis did not accept claims from businesses which had articles lost or damaged in transit”.
In the undertaking, Australia Post Group admitted to the ”Conduct of Concern” over a period from 26 October, 2018, to 31 October, 2022.
“The failure by Australia Post Group to provide business customers with the remedies they were entitled to is extremely concerning, but we acknowledge that Australia Post self-reported this conduct to the ACCC,” Commissioner Liza Carver said.
“We are pleased that Australia Post Group has undertaken to provide compensation for this error and to put systems in place to ensure similar errors are not made in the future.
“Business contract customers who sent goods to customers without a business purpose which were lost or damaged in transit with the Australia Post Group have been entitled, and continue to be entitled, to consumer guarantee rights.”
In the undertaking, Australia Post Group said it would implement a compliance program that included staff training and informing the ACCC about the progress of the compensation program.
The ACCC said many business customers would automatically receive compensation equal to the cost of postage plus interest, and that the Australia Post and StarTrack websites would explain who was eligible for compensation, whether they would need to take action, and a claims portal through which to lodge a claim.
Australia Post Group will also contact the 11,500 business contract customers and receivers of StarTrack deliveries it has identified as potentially affected, and will provide them with automatic remediation or a unique reference number and instructions on how to lodge a claim.
Original Article published by Andrew McLaughlin on Riotact.