Information for Postal Operators

Postal Industry Ombudsman membership is voluntary, except for Australia Post.

That is because while Australia’s delivery market is open, only Australia Post delivers letters. The law requires Australia Post to provide a ‘standard letter service’ at a uniform price from anywhere to anywhere in the country.

Who can become a registered Private Postal Operator (PPO)?

Anyone who provides 'a postal or similar service' (see definition) can register as a Private Postal Operator (PPO). The PIO works to boost consumer confidence in members’ services and the postal industry in general.

In brief

  • Australia Post must be a member of the scheme. Registration is voluntary for all other postal operators
  • The PIO can only investigate the actions of registered postal operators
  • There is no joining fee
  • Postal operators may deregister at any time by writing to the PIO. However, the PIO may still investigate complaints about actions that occurred while the postal operator was registered
  • The actions of the PPO's contractors and sub-contractors are considered to be the actions of the PPO, and can be investigated in the same way.

The PIO does not criticise a postal operator unless the operator has been given the opportunity to explain its actions or to resolve the problem.

The PIO encourages postal operators to develop good internal complaint-management processes that provide transparent resolutions for complainants. These processes also help minimise the cost of a PIO investigation.

Register to become a Private Postal Operator.

What are the benefits of being a registered Private Postal Operator (PPO)

The PIO offers impartiality and integrity, fair and robust processes, and an understanding of the events that can occur in the course of service delivery.

Registration with us has many benefits for postal operators, including:

  • Demonstration of your company’s genuine commitment to customer service
  • Ability for customers to feel confident about using your services
  • Access to an independent, external and fair complaints-handling scheme experienced in handling postal issues
  • Useful feedback from the PIO on areas of your services and products that have caused customer dissatisfaction
  • Expert assistance from the PIO in establishing your own complaints-handling procedures
  • Specialist resolution of difficult or complex complaints.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has more than 30 years’ expertise investigating complaints about Australia’s postal industry.

More details on the benefits of becoming a registered Private Postal Operator are available here.

Register to become a Private Postal Operator.

What do we ask of registered Private Postal Operators?

The PIO encourages registered postal operators 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.

Fees for postal investigations

There is no joining fee when a postal operator registers as a Private Postal Operator, and no annual fee.

Instead, we charge a fee for all investigated complaints. Fees are charged to the company subject to the complaint.

The cost varies depending on the level of complexity involved in resolving the matter. There are four levels:

  • Initial investigation: will conduct a short focused investigation with 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.
  • Simple investigation: resolved following only one substantive contact with the PPO ('substantive' excludes correcting an error or seeking straightforward clarification of a matter, for example)
  • Escalated investigation: resolved following more than one substantive contact between the PIO and the PPO.
  • Complex investigation: resolved following more than one substantive contact between the PIO and the PPO, and requiring the involvement of more senior PIO staff
  • Formal report investigation: an investigation that results in a formal report being made to the Minister under the provisions of the Ombudsman Act.

No fee is charged if we decide not to investigate a complaint.

At the end of each financial year, we calculate the cost of investigating each level of complaint. The postal operator is then invoiced for any completed investigations involving its company.

If there are no finalised complaints about a member in a financial year, no fee is incurred.

If we decide to investigate a complaint, we will contact the PPO to advise of the investigation and to provide notification that a fee will apply. All complaint investigations begin at the lowest fee level. They may be escalated to a higher level if the matter takes longer to resolve.

A PPO is notified before fees are escalated between levels, and is given the opportunity to argue that a higher fee should not be applied – for example, because they have since resolved the complaint to the customer's satisfaction.

Recovery of fees

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) collects fees on behalf of the PIO.

ACMA sends out invoices to PPOs for investigations completed by the PIO in the previous financial year.

Become a Private Postal Operator

Download and complete the registration form then post, fax or email it to us via the details provided on the form.

Registering with the Postal Industry Ombudsman means:

  • Your customers will be able to make complaints to the PIO about your provision of postal or similar services. This includes actions taken by your contractors and subcontractors
  • We will be able to conduct investigations into these complaints
  • We may report to you if your business is found to have acted wrongly and if some form of remedial action should be taken. The Ombudsman is required by law to provide a copy of any such report to the relevant Minister, who may table it in Parliament
  • You may deregister from the scheme at any time. However, we can investigate complaints about actions that occurred in the 12 months prior to deregistration.

How to join

Complete our registration form and email, mail or fax it to the contact details provided on the form.

Members receive a certificate of registration which can be displayed publicly.

You will be requested to provide a copy of your terms and conditions of service, and any other guidelines that provide information about your service.

This will enable our staff to analyse any complaint within the context of your company’s terms and conditions, and decide whether an investigation is warranted.

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.