26 September 2023

Ombudsman stamps his foot at Australia Post

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The Commonwealth Ombudsman has published a report about Australia Post’s approach to compensating clients whose items sent via its contactless ‘Signature on Delivery’ service were not received during the COVID‑19 pandemic.

In his Report into Australia Post’s Signature on Delivery service during COVID-19 , the Ombudsman, Iain Anderson said Australia Post marketed its Signature on Delivery service (SOD) as providing added ‘peace of mind’ to senders as their item would be delivered personally to someone at an address.

“With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020 Australia Post commenced a new procedure to reduce close contact between delivery officers and the public,” Mr Anderson said.

“Instead of receivers physically touching a scanning device to sign receipt, delivery officers recorded the receiver’s name and left items for them to collect once they had walked away,” he said.

The Ombudsman said that in the three case studies in his report, Australia Post acknowledged its staff did not follow the correct SOD procedure.

“It concluded that, while this may warrant a refund of the Signature on Delivery fee to the sender, the failures did not warrant compensation for the value of the items apparently lost,” he said.

“In my view, consumers are entitled to expect that by paying the extra fee for the Signature on Delivery service, Australia Post will provide the service in accordance with the agreed terms and conditions by confirming someone is present to accept the delivery and recording that person’s details accurately,” Mr Anderson said.

“Where it can be established this has not occurred and an item was lost or stolen, I consider Australia Post should provide appropriate compensation.”

The Ombudsman’s report makes two recommendations to Australia Post:

* To review the COVID-19 Signature on Delivery service to consider whether it is still required, fit for purpose and provides the level of assurance it purports to offer customers; and

* To compensate consumers who contact Australia Post about missing items that were sent to them using the Signature on Delivery service where the correct process was not correctly followed.

Mr Anderson said Australia Post partially accepted both recommendations.

The Ombudsman’s 22-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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