Information for Postal Operators

Postal Industry Ombudsman membership is voluntary, except for Australia Post. Anyone who provides a postal or similar service can join the PIO scheme and register as a Private Postal Operator.

While Australia Post is a mandatory member of the scheme, registration is voluntary for all other postal operators and there is no joining fee.

Who can become a registered Private Postal Operator?

Anyone who provides a postal or similar service can join the PIO scheme and register as a Private Postal Operator

There is no joining fee or annual levy however fees based on finalised investigations, are charged annually. More information concerning fees is available here

You can view details of members currently registered here.

Register to become a Private Postal Operator.

How does the PIO scheme work?

The Postal Industry Ombudsman investigates complaints about postal or similar services provided by registered postal operators, including Australia Post.

Not every complaint we receive is investigated. We can assist if:

  • If the dispute relates to a postal or similar service provided by a registered postal operator
  • The complaint is made within 12 months of the incident/s that led to the dispute
  • The consumer has lodged a formal complaint with the postal operator and given it a least 10 business days to respond
  • The complaint is not a complaint about another postal operator

We may decide not to investigate if:

  • The complainant is deemed not to have sufficient interest in the matter
  • The complaint is frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith
  • Investigation is considered unwarranted given all the circumstances e.g. where we consider there may be no reasonable prospect of a better outcome

We investigate complaints about postal services, not any other type of service your business may provide.If we decide to investigate a complaint, we will contact the postal operator to advise of the investigation and to provide notification that a fee will apply.

The aim of our investigation process is to help the postal operator and the consumer reach an agreed outcome impartially, informally and as quickly as reasonably practicable. More detail concerning the investigation process can be found here.

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.

We are not an advocate for the consumer or the postal operator or other parties e.g. consumer groups.

While we can recommend an outcome or action, we are not a court or tribunal and cannot direct a consumer or postal operator to take a particular action or decision.

All complaint investigations begin at the lowest fee level. They may be escalated to a higher level if the matter takes longer to resolve. More information on fees is available here.

The PIO also has the power to initiate an investigation without a complaint; for example, service issues that may arise across the industry.

What are the benefits of becoming a registered Private Postal Operator?

You will add your organisation’s name to a list of other postal operators that have already chosen us as their dispute resolution scheme, demonstrating genuine commitment to customer service.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has 40 years of experience providing accessible, fair and independent best practice complaint management. Our members have access to a range of benefits and resources including:

  • Access to an informal, speedy and cost-effective alternative dispute resolution mechanism. We place a high priority on speedy and informal dispute resolution and aim to arrive at an outcome that is fair to both parties
  • Expert assistance from the PIO in establishing or improving your own complaints-handling process. More details on the Complaint handling best practice is available here.
  • Specialist resolution of difficult or complex complaints.

Participation showcases your company as customer-centric and committed to service best practice.

You can read more about the benefits of becoming a member here.

Register to become a Private Postal Operator.

What do we ask of registered Private Postal Operators?

We require members to:

  • Be open in dealings with the PIO by supplying information as requested
  • Be prepared to take primary responsibility to deal with customers' complaints in the first instance
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure customers are aware of the complaints scheme and that the postal operator is subject to PIO investigation
  • Provide the PIO with current contact information regarding staff responsible for dealing with complaints
  • Create and maintain an internal complaint-handling process
  • Be prepared to pay the fees arising from investigations. The PIO is only able to investigate complaints about postal services, not any other type of service your business may provide.

Register to become a Private Postal Operator.

Are there any costs?

Joining the PIO scheme is free and there is no annual fee or levy.

You only pay a fee if we have cause to investigate a complaint or become involved in resolution of a dispute.

If we receive a complaint about your organisation and decide not to investigate, no fee is charged. More details about investigations and dispute resolution processes are available here .

In brief:

  • Fees are charged on based on time taken to resolve a dispute and finalise a complaint. At the beginning of each year we fix cost per hour and the time taken value for each complaint category. The time taken depends on the level of complexity involved in resolving the matter.
  • There are five levels:
  1. Initial investigation (1.5 hours): a short focused investigation with postal operator (PPO), to provide the PPO with an opportunity to resolve the dispute by reviewing its previous actions and decisions in managing the consumer’s complaint
  2. Simple investigation (3 hours): finalised following second more detailed contact where we seek further specific information concerning the dispute
  3. Escalated investigation (6 hours): Finalised after more than three or more substantive contacts between the PIO and the PPO. (This excludes correcting an error or seeking straightforward clarification of a matter)
  4. Complex investigation (10 hours): A deadlocked dispute requiring significant and substantive contact between the PIO and the PPO, and requiring the involvement of more senior PIO staff
  5. Formal report investigation (60 hours): an investigation that results in a formal report under the provisions of the Ombudsman Act. The PIO also has the power to initiate an investigation without a complaint; for example, service issues that may arise across the industry
  • We consult members before fees are escalated between levels and consider you view if you think the higher fee should not apply – for example, because you have already resolved the complaint to the customer's satisfaction. The fee is invoiced at the end of each financial year.
  • If there are no finalised complaints about a member in a financial year, no fee is incurred.

What if we disagree with the PIO's decision?

The aim of our investigation process is to help the postal operator and the consumer reach an agreed outcome impartially, informally and as quickly as reasonably practicable. But we are not an advocate for the consumer or the postal operator.

When we investigate, we consider the actions and views of both parties. If we need further information, we will ask the consumer and or the postal operator, specific can focused questions to assist us to make an informed decision.

While we can recommend an outcome or action, we are not a court or tribunal and cannot direct a consumer or postal operator to take a particular action or decision.

When we make a decision, 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.

Our Better Practice Guide to Complaint handling outlines the principles we follow in considering complaints. Our process is modelled on the principles of fairness, accessibility, responsiveness, efficiency and integration.

If you disagree with our recommendation, please tell us.

Do members have a say on the way the PIO operates?

We value the opinion of members and welcome comments and feedback.

We regularly meet with members to talk about the progress of the scheme and to seek input and ideas.

During the year, we bring together members in a community of practice forum focussing on complaints best practice and the effects of changes in industry practice.

Please contact us for further details about meetings and forums.

How do we join?

If your organisation provides a postal or similar service it can become a member of the Postal Industry Ombudsman Scheme. To register download and complete the registration form and send it to us.

Once registered, your organisation will appear on the published register, with the other members.

Who to contact for more information

Phone 1300 362 072 and ask to be put through to a member of the PIO team. Explain that you are inquiring about PPO membership.

Alternatively, send an email to pio@ombudsman.gov.au with your details and we will contact you.

Register to become a Private Postal Operator.