Postal Industry Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is also the Postal Industry Ombudsman.

We assist consumers to resolve their dispute with a registered postal operator, when they believe they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably.

We are independent and impartial and do not represent consumers or postal operators. We place a high priority on speedy and informal dispute resolution and aim to arrive at an outcome that is fair to both parties. Where complaints indicate there may be more general or systemic problem, we work with the postal operator and the postal industry in general to address the problem and improve service or administration.

Our service is free to consumers. There is no charge for making a complaint.

Here’s how we work:

The Postal Industry Ombudsman investigates complaints about postal or similar services provided by registered postal operators, including Australia Post. An investigation can be conducted as a result of a complaint or on the initiative (or own motion) of the Ombudsman

We take account of the law (including any applicable codes of practice), good administrative or industry practice, and what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances of each complaint. While we can recommend an outcome or action, we are not a court or tribunal and cannot direct a postal operator to take a particular action or decision.

We can assist if:

  • Your dispute relates to a postal or similar service provided by a registered postal operator
  • Complaints concerning other services provided by Australia Post may be considered by the Commonwealth Ombudsman
  • Your complaint is made within 12 months of the incident/s that led to the dispute
  • You have lodged a formal complaint with the company involved and given it a least 10 business days to respond.

See Before you lodge a complaint for more details.

We cannot investigate if:

  • Your complaint does not concern a postal or similar service
  • The complaint is about a company not registered postal operator
  • The complaint is about something that happened before the postal operator registered with the PIO
  • You did not complain within 12 months of the incident which led to the dispute
  • The matter is the subject of a court or tribunal hearing (unless special circumstances exist).
  • You are a postal operator complaining about another postal operator
  • The complaint relates to the employment of staff by a postal operator

There may also be other organisations that may be able to assist with your issue.

Not all disputes can be resolved

We don’t investigate every complaint and not every dispute can be resolved to the entire satisfaction of all parties e.g. not all lost items can be found and some damage cannot be repaired or the item replaced.

We aim to resolve your complaint and achieve a practical outcome. Sometimes we may not be able to achieve your preferred outcome. For example, we might find:

  • The terms and conditions limit the compensation payable for lost or damaged postal items
  • The postal provider’s actions and decisions are in keeping with its terms and conditions
  • The problem is broader than your individual complaint and would need to be addressed in another way
  • There is not enough information or evidence to establish what happened or why
  • Further investigation is considered unwarranted given all the circumstances

If we can’t help, where practical, we’ll provide you with details of other organisations which may be able to assist with your issue. See Frequently asked questions for further information.

If we decide not to investigate, we’ll explain why. If you’re not happy with our decision or the outcome of our investigation, you can  request a review.

CASE STUDY

Mei ordered a Christmas present for her child from a US merchant, to be delivered via the ShopMate service, which allows people in Australia to receive deliveries from overseas companies that do not offer shipping to Australia. After Mei’s product arrived at the US warehouse, Australia Post advised Mei that the item was over the size limits and could not be shipped to Australia. Mei complained to Australia Post, noting that the dimensions of the item on the merchant’s website suggested that the item was within the advertised limits. Australia Post responded that, despite the information on the merchant’s website, the length of the article exceeded the size limits, and Mei was provided with the options of having the item destroyed for a $5 fee, returned to the sender (at Mei’s expense) or sent to another US address (at Mei’s expense).

Mei requested that Australia Post repack the item to reduce the length; however, Australia Post advised that it had already repacked the item but it could not reduce the length. Mei complained to the PIO stating that Australia Post’s responses did not satisfactorily explain the discrepancy in the length of the item, and that delays in responding to her were preventing the issue from being resolved in time for Christmas. Following our investigation, Australia Post arranged for the article to be delivered via an alternative method at a discount as a gesture of goodwill in recognition of the disappointment Mei experienced in not receiving the goods in time for Christmas.

What if my issue can’t be resolved?

There may also be other agencies that may be able to assist with your issue but if you’re not happy with the outcome of our investigation, you can request a review.

For more information about what happens to complaints and what you can expect from the Ombudsman, click here.