Australia Post

04 June 2015

Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 15:07:53 ):  In recent weeks, there has been a number of speeches in this place about the quality of service provided by one of Australia's oldest and best-known organisations. This organisation has been operating for over 200 years and has been a steadfast provider of a vital public service. It appears, however, that this hallowed institution has lost its way in recent years, and I am afraid that my own personal experience, coupled with regular complaints from constituents, reveals a broken culture where customer service is well down its list of priorities. That organisation is Australia Post.

I listened with interest when the member for Colton and the member for Kaurna regaled us with interesting yet sad tales about the bureaucratic bungles, the poor customer service and the excuses about why Australia Post did not seem to care about basic customer service and complicated basic services with bureaucratic processes.

I looked up the vision and mission of Australia Post on their website. It is not a very exciting vision. It is motherhood central, but the maternal goodness reaches a crescendo with this particular piece of fiction: 'innovative easy-to-use products and services' followed by 'friendly service from knowledgeable staff'. Well, I would wipe out all of Australia Post's mission and vision, replacing it with a succinct phrase: 'The computer says no.'

I want to put on record just a couple of anecdotes about Australia Post's less than admirable customer service. This week, my office was contacted by a Hallett Cove resident who was making a complaint on behalf of a range of residents living in neighbouring streets with similar names.It appears that those residents often have mixed-up deliveries from Australia Post. Residents have complained on numerous occasions about this matter and have had no joy.

This week my office decided to contact Australia Post on behalf of these residents and had mixed success. The first person we contacted simply dismissed the issue; they did not want to have anything to do with us and came up with excuses and said that this was a personal matter which could not be dealt with by an MP's office and so must be dealt with directly with the constituent. Our interest was not in the contents of the letters: it was getting the letters into the letterboxes.

We rang back a few hours later to try our luck again and to find an employee who had read the mission statement, and suddenly the computer said yes. The issue is now being looked into because it seems that this is no longer a privacy issue, and we even have a customer reference number to help us follow through the complaint. That is one Australia Post story. Let me share another.

Recently, my personal PO box was due for its annual renewal, and I have to admit that I was a few days late in paying it. Tardiness, yes, but, as soon as I realised I had missed my annual payment, I popped online to Australia Post's special computer portal (they call it SecurePay because you cannot use your regular internet banking BPAY system with Australia Post), but alas the computer said no. It seems that if someone misses the payment deadline it is not possible to pay online any more. Australia Post makes it even more difficult to clear one's debt, insisting that customers must front up face to face in an Australia Post office in person. This is obviously challenging for people who work between 9am and 5pm, or longer hours.

Yes, I admit tardiness in paying my bill, but surely I should have been able to pay it online, even if a couple of days late. And another story: this week my office was organising a mail-out where we were required to get a reply-paid service. We had had a reply-paid service a year or so ago so we called up and asked whether we could use it again. Did the computer say no? Well, it seemed in this instance the computer did not even know.

The Australia Post employee we spoke to had no idea—not a clue. We asked whether we needed to pay an annual subscription and whether it was up to date. We were told that we should know this, not them. We said that we did not know and that was why we were checking with them, because we did not want to put a reply-paid address on something that would not get back to us. The computer did not know and the Bright electorate office remains clueless.

Australia Post seems to have been a good organisation which has lost its way. My few examples added to those of the members of Kaurna and Colton, and no doubt many of my colleagues paint this same picture. Much has been made out of the pay packet received by Ahmed Fahour, Australia Post's CEO (and also unfortunately a director of another lacklustre organisation, the Carlton Football Club). Mr Fahour may have been brought in as an axe-wielding toecutter, but it is time he focused on creating an organisation with a culture that truly puts the customer first. I will be writing to minister Turnbull to raise my concerns about the performance of Australia Post and I will keep the house abreast of any response that I receive.

Extracted from Hansard