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.
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 customer has lodged a formal complaint with the postal operator and has 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 you to advise of the investigation and to provide notification of the fee that will apply.
The aim of the investigation process is to help you and the customer reach an agreed outcome impartially, informally and as quickly and as reasonably practicable.
We take in to account 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 you, the customer 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 you or the customer to take a particular action or decision.
We also have the power to initiate an investigation without a complaint; for example, regarding service issues that may arise across the industry.
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 over 40 years of experience providing accessible, fair and independent best practice complaint management. As a member, you will 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 industry best practice.
You can read more about the benefits of becoming a member here.
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
- Create and maintain an internal complaint-handling process
- Take reasonable steps to ensure customers are aware of the complaints scheme and that your organisation may be subject to PIO investigation
- Provide the us with current contact information regarding staff responsible for dealing with complaints
- Be prepared to pay the annual fees arising from complaints. The PIO is only able to investigate complaints about postal or similar services, not any other type of service your business may provide.
As a member of the PIO scheme, you will be required to pay an annual fee on a 'user pays' basis. That means if we do not receive a complaint about your organisation in the financial year, no fee will be payable.
You only pay a fee if we receive a complaint about your organisation.
- Fees are based on the actual cost of providing the scheme in the previous financial year, and the time taken to finalise a complaint. The time taken depends on the level of complexity involved in resolving the matter.
- There are five levels:
- Unassisted referral: If the customer has not contacted you about the complaint issue before contacting us, we register an Unassisted Referral and give them information they need to contact you directly, to have the problem resolved
- Assessed but not progressed: If the customer has contacted you and has not been able to agree on a resolution, we consider the information provided by the customer and will not investigate if a better outcome is not likely to be achieved or if there is a better remedy available through another mechanism i.e. consumer affairs
- Resolution investigation: If the customer has contacted their Private Postal Operator but has not been able to agree on a resolution, we may investigate. We handle the complaint immediately by dealing directly with the postal operator through a short investigation focused on early resolution
- Continued (systemic) investigation: We may continue to investigate if the matter is not resolved at the Resolution investigation stage or if other potentially systemic issues are identified as part of the investigation
- Own motion: On the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s own initiative, we can commence an investigation into the administrative actions of registered Private Postal Operators on any postal matter. This type of investigation often arises from insights gained through handling individual complaints but may also arise from a single complaint.
We provide you with regular statements throughout the financial year showing the number of complaints received about your organisation and the fee amount, to enable you to keep track of costs.
At the end of each financial year, we calculate the cost based on the fee model and prepare a financial year statement of the costs by fee levels and complaint numbers for each registered postal operator.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) collects fees on our behalf and will forward an invoice in August each year, for payment within 30 days.
If you disagree with our recommendation, please tell us. We welcome your questions and comments and will consider your view.
The aim of our investigation process is to help you and the customer reach an agreed outcome impartially, informally and as quickly as reasonably practicable. But we are not an advocate for you or for the customer.
When we investigate, we consider the actions and views of both parties. If we need further information, we will ask the customer and/or you, specific and 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 you or the customer to take a particular action or decision.
When we make a decision, we take in to account 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 modeled on the principles of fairness, accessibility, responsiveness, efficiency and integration.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with your details and we will contact you.