Australia Post has promised to scrap its plans to charge people if they don’t pick up their parcels within five business days, if there is strong enough resistance to the measure.
The agency announced a plan this week to charge people for late parcel collection. After five business days customers would be charged $3 per week, paying up to $9 if parcels went uncollected for 30 days.
Parcels are currently held free of charge for 10 business days and returned to the sender if they are not collected.
Australia Post defended its initial proposal, saying it was a response to customers asking for more time to pick up their parcels.
A statement on the company’s Facebook page said: “When we undertook three separate research studies with customers, they felt that if for some reason they couldn’t collect their parcels within 10 business days, a small charge for continuing to hold their parcel for an extended time was preferable to having the parcel returned to sender.
“We know that 92 per cent of customers collect their parcels within the first five days so for the vast majority of customers there will be no change at all.”
But it is not yet a done deal and the company has indicated it is willing to listen to customer concerns.
“We want to reinforce that we are absolutely committed to seeking feedback from our customers over the next three months, before charging is planned to take effect on 1 August,” Australia Post said.
“If this feedback is overwhelmingly against any changes to our existing arrangements then we will continue to operate as we do today and return parcels to sender after 10 days.”
Australia Post also pointed out that MyPost customers – a free service which anybody can sign up for – would not be charged to collect their parcels until after day 10.
Plans to charge for late parcel collection have sparked a barrage of colourful complaints from customers, most of them about them about delivery people automatically posting a collection card and making no attempt to deliver parcels.
One person said: “If you’re going to charge for holding onto parcels after five days (or whatever), then we should be able to charge you for lost items or when your delivery drivers can’t be bothered knocking on the door and leaving a card in the letter box.”
Another customer agreed, adding: It’s obviously a big enough issue because even my local post office is angry about it. The local van couriers seem to just drop off a huge load of “undeliverable mail” to a tiny post office and they’ve even complained that they don’t have the space to hold all these parcels.”
Another pointed out that collection times were between 9am and 5pm, when most people were at work: “If you’re going to insist on a collection from a post office, at least have an out-of-hours collection available.”
But one customer managed to find some black humour in the situation: “I recently missed a parcel delivery because I was out … AT THE POST OFFICE COLLECTING A PARCEL THEY FAILED TO DELIVER THE DAY BEFORE!!”
Parcel delivery is critical to the survival of Australia Post because it is a growth area compared with the plummeting demand for letter delivery.
On Monday this week, the company announced the launch of a new dedicated domestic air-freighter fleet from July this year, in partnership with Qantas.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the extended fleet offered unprecedented scale for Australia Post and StarTrack customers.
“Qantas Freight offers access to the collective belly-space on domestic Qantas and Jetstar passenger flights, as well as eight freighter aircraft in addition to the Australia Post dedicated freighter network. This network, combined with the strength of our partnership and interline agreements, gives Qantas Freight significant network reach to more than 500 international and 80 domestic destinations,” said Joyce.