Complainants raise a wide range of issues in their complaints to us. Some types of complaints are more common than others. Your complaint may be similar to complaints that we often deal with.

Please read our information and advice on common complaints before you contact us. It may answer your questions and help you resolve the problem.

Steps to resolve your complaint

How to resolve your dispute with a postal operator

  1. Check the information and terms & conditions
    • postal operators publish information and terms & conditions covering their products or services
    • Check the information and terms & conditions to make sure you have grounds for lodging a dispute
  2. Contact the postal operator
    • Make a formal complaint via the postal operator's website, complaints phone line etc
    • Give any available evidence to the postal operator
    • Get a complaint reference number as proof of your complaint
  3. Allow 10 full business days
    • Allow a full 10 business days for the postal operator to respond to your complaint
    • If you do not receive a response in 10 full business days, contact the postal operator to follow-up
  4. Contact us
    • If you still do not receive a response or are dissatisfied with the postal operator's response, contact the Postal Industry Ombudsman

Our contact details are here. For more information see Making a complaint.

What are the most common causes of complaint?

Most commonly, complaints to the PIO are about:


  • Lost or delayed letters
  • Consequential loss: for example, penalties that may occur if mail is late or lost, such as a fine for driving an unregistered vehicle.


  • Lost, damaged or delayed packages
  • Issues related to where parcels are left.

Other postal services

  • Failure to provide a service, such as a mail redirection
  • Customer service or complaint handling
  • Damage to personal property (for example if a delivery contractor’s vehicle damages a fence)
  • Problems with other postal services, such as Australia Post’s parcel-forwarding service, ShopMate, or its complaints-management system, MyCustomers.


Before contacting the PIO with your complaint, we ask that you pursue the matter as far as possible with the postal operator.


The PIO receives a large number of complaints from people seeking compensation. Typically this arises out of a postal item being lost or damaged, but there are other scenarios in which compensation may be sought, such as

  • consequential loss
  • a refund for a failed service (such as an Australia Post redirection)
  • damage to property (for example where a delivery contractor has a vehicle accident).

Terms and conditions

Each registered PPO has a document setting out their terms and conditions for the payment of compensation. These are generally available from the operator's website and/or may be part of any paperwork given to the customer. For example, the terms and conditions for Australia Post are available on its website.

There is generally a maximum payable amount for compensation depending on the mail service used. If your complaint relates to the amount of compensation paid or offered for a service failure, check the documentation (written or online) for the product or service you have purchased. If you have applied through the operator's processes but are not satisfied with the way your claim has been handled, you can contact the PIO.

Prohibited items

Some items are prohibited from carriage by the postal operator's terms and conditions. An example is Australia Post's prohibition on bullion. Other items can only be carried subject to conditions: for example, you can only send banknotes through Australia Post by the registered post service, and then only up to the face value of $200. No compensation will be payable if you send prohibited items, or do not follow restrictions on the way items may be carried.


How you package your item also has a bearing on whether any compensation is payable.

You should check with the guidelines provided by the postal operator for the correct packaging of your item to reduce the chance of rejection of any claim for compensation due to damage.

Who can claim for compensation?

Australia Post

Generally speaking, the addressee is the one who claims for damage to a mail item. This includes where an item has arrived, but the contents are missing. Where the item is lost the sender is the one to claim.

The logic behind this approach is that where an item disappears, the sender is in the best position to confirm that it was indeed posted, and also the sender paid for the postage so it is the service they paid for that failed. The addressee may also have a right, in a commercial transaction, to require the sender to replace the item.

If the item is delivered, it may reasonably be considered to have become the responsibility of the addressee, so if it is damaged, the addressee can claim compensation.

The person with primary entitlement to claim compensation can usually transfer their right to claim to the other party in writing. For example, the addressee of a damaged item can transfer their right to claim to the sender. This is not the case for certain international mail services.

Private Postal Operators

Refer to the terms and conditions of service for information about who should lodge a claim for loss or damage.

Consequential loss

Consequential losses which arise from lost or damaged items may be excluded by a postal operator's terms and conditions. This includes such things as payment of late fees on bills, the costs involved in chasing up replacement items, and payment of fines resulting from non-payment of driver licences. If you are sending an item and are concerned that loss or delay may cause you financial loss, you should check with the postal operator's terms and conditions to see whether consequential loss of this nature will be compensated for.

International post

Australia is a member of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) which makes rules for the transfer of mail between member countries. Australia Post is required to follow these rules, which may affect whether compensation is payable for loss and damage, who should claim, and how much is payable. You can refer to Australia Post's International Post Guide on its website for more information.

International carriage by a PPO will be governed by its terms and conditions of service, in the same way as domestic carriage.

Redirections and holds

Before contacting the PIO with your complaint, we ask that you pursue the matter as far as possible with the postal operator.

Processing and acting on your redirection or mail hold is predominantly a manual process and human error may sometimes occur.

How to reduce the risk of delivery errors

  • Check that the address you redirect mail to has a mail delivery service. In some rural areas you may need to collect your mail over the counter at the local post office.
  • Double-check that all the details on the form are correct before submitting your form, with particular attention to:
    • where there are multiple people in the old residence, and you only want your mail forwarded (there is a checkbox especially for this)
    • both the from and to addresses
    • the start and end dates.
  • If your redirection is permanent or long-term, make sure that you change the address with all possible senders, especially important ones.
  • Contact the tenants at your old address and provide them with your new address, asking them to send on any mail they receive by mistake.
  • Renew your mail redirection before it expires, if required.

If you suspect that your redirection is not working, contact Australia Post or the responsible PPO as soon as possible, providing them with any reference number on your paperwork.

If the postal operator is unable to resolve the problem, we may be able to investigate to find out what has gone wrong and whether the postal operator can fix it.

Consequential loss

Australia Post does not pay compensation for consequential loss for such things as fines incurred for non-payment of accounts. It is up to you to ensure that your accounts are paid if you anticipate they are due. This is especially the case with driver licences, car registrations, rates notices etc.

Delayed mail

If a postal operator does not guarantee a delivery timeframe in the terms and conditions for the service, it will usually not offer compensation for delay in delivery.

If a postal operator guarantees a delivery timeframe, it may offer compensation for delay. The compensation is usually limited to a postage refund or a replacement prepaid satchel/envelope.

Most of Australia Post's services do not guarantee a delivery timeframe. Some of its express mail services do, but the terms and conditions vary in delivery guarantees and compensation for delay.

Lost or missing mail

Before contacting the PIO with your complaint, we ask that you pursue the matter as far as possible with the postal operator.

For the sender

Common reasons for articles not arriving at their destination include:

  • the item was not posted
  • the item was not addressed correctly, and the person at the address it went to did not return the item to sender
  • the item was incorrectly delivered and the person who received it did not put the item back into the mail stream.

For Australia Post, where an article can not be delivered, the item will be returned to sender or to the Mail Redistribution Centre (formerly known as the Dead Letter Office). Private Postal Operators also have procedures for processing undeliverable mail—this may vary between companies.

If a postal item has been incorrectly delivered or incorrectly addressed, and it was not returned to the mail stream, the addressee may report the mail as missing.

In investigating a complaint about lost mail, the PIO usually approaches the matter by asking whether the postal operator has done all it reasonably can to find the item. This may include a manual search or a combination of manual and electronic searches. Where it can be determined that the item was delivered to the wrong address, or given it to the wrong person, there may be an attempt to retrieve the item.

What is a 'reasonable' search may depend on the value of the item: not just monetary value, but whether the item can be replaced or not. There may be a point where we accept that a reasonable search has failed to locate the item. The question is then what compensation is payable under the operator's terms and conditions.

Australia Post cannot track normal mail through the mail stream. Therefore, it is usually not possible to initiate a search for an ordinary mail item that has not reached its destination, because of the large volume of mail handled daily and the number of different places that it could have become lost.

Items which have a barcode can be tracked to a certain extent, and can sometimes narrow the search for the lost item. Courier services generally have a track and trace system for all carried items and can usually provide a fairly accurate account of an item's location within the mail stream.

For the addressee

Generally, responsibility for inquiring about a lost mail item, and entitlement to compensation for it, will rest with the sender.

You may have received a notification card advising you of an attempted delivery. Sometimes, items cannot be found by the postal operator after the card has been left. This still counts as loss of the item, and the sender should usually make inquiries about. We would expect the postal operator to make inquiries on behalf of the addressee to see whether the item can be located for collection.

Australia Post has recently introduced a system where large parcels can be left in a safe place if they do not fit in a mail box. A card should be left in the mail box stating where the item is. Read any such card carefully to see whether you can locate the item referred to—it may not have been taken back to the post office.

As indicated above, if the article has been misdelivered or incorrectly addressed and the recipient has failed to return the item to the mail stream, it may not be possible to locate your item and the sender can apply for compensation.

To reduce the risk of delivery problems, double check that the delivery address you are supplying is correct.

Damaged mail

Before contacting the PIO with your complaint, we ask that you pursue the matter as far as possible with the postal operator.

Common reasons for damage include:

  • the item being too fragile for the post (for example, fine glassware)
  • packaging not being sufficient to protect the item against the normal stresses of mail handling
  • accidental damage caused during the processing or delivery procedure (for example, a package being crushed by a fork lift)
  • malicious damage (for example, vandalism of street posting boxes).

The information on this website about compensation may also be relevant to complaints about damage.

If you are sending mail, or having something sent to you, refer to the terms and conditions and any packaging guidelines the operator may have. The terms and conditions may provide information about compensation for damage and any exclusions from liability. Packaging guidelines have been developed based on experience in handling mail items and take into account handling practices at all stages of transport, processing and delivery.

If you are complaining about a damaged item:

  • check whether the packaging complied with any packaging guidelines (this may be something you can take up with the sender)
  • take photographs of the packaging and the damaged article if possible, and retain all the packaging
  • report the damage to the postal operator as soon as possible after it is discovered.

We may be able to investigate a complaint if:

  • compensation within the limits applicable to the service purchased has been refused without explanation
  • the postal operator refuses compensation on the basis of inadequate packaging, but the packaging complied with relevant guidelines.

Mail misdelivery

Before contacting the PIO with your complaint, we ask that you pursue the matter as far as possible with the postal operator.

At times mail may be delivered incorrectly or returned to sender. This can be for a variety of reasons, including:

  • the address is not easily decipherable or is incomplete
  • similar addresses in nearby locations - for example where numbering re-starts at 1 on a long road passing through a number of suburbs, or the same name being followed by different street types such as 'Acacia Avenue' and 'Acacia Court'
  • changes to sorting processes or addressing standards - for example when a post code or street name is changed - and senders are unaware of the changes
  • human error.

Often related to problems with mail delivery is getting someone else's mail and what to do with it - a topic which is discussed in other common complaint themes on this site.

To improve the chances of your mail being correctly delivered:

  • request senders to write addresses clearly and in full, using the postcode
  • ensure your house/unit/flat number is clearly visible from the street
  • if you want mail delivered to a PO Box, make sure potential senders are aware of this and address items to you accordingly.

If you have a recurring problem with incorrect delivery, complain to the postal operator and make it clear that the problem is repeating itself. If the postal operator cannot fix the problem you can complain to the PIO.

We can investigate to see whether there is a systemic or ongoing problem that is affecting mail delivery, and to try to address any such problems. If the issue comes down to human error, we may be able to ask the postal operator to put management controls in place to supervise delivery officers to see if this improves matters. We can never guarantee that problems caused by human error will not recur in the future.

No street delivery

Australia Post does not provide street delivery in all areas. In rural or regional areas, customers generally collect their mail from the counter of the local postal outlet, from a PO Box or roadside mailbox.

Customers may request that Australia Post provide street delivery to their area. Australia Post may then hold a poll to determine whether there is enough support from residents to change to street delivery.

Please contact Australia Post for information and instructions on requesting street delivery, or refer to its document Group mail poll delivery policy on the Australia Post website

Getting someone else's mail

Before contacting the PIO with your complaint, we ask that you pursue the matter as far as possible with the postal operator.

Mail may be received at an address for past occupants, or may be incorrectly delivered to an adjacent or similar sounding address. These are two different issues: in one case the mail is being delivered as addressed; in the other it is not.

As a general rule, Australia Post completes delivery of a postal article when it places the article in a mail box at the addressed premises, or hands the article to a person who is apparently a responsible resident of the premises. This also applies to private mail boxes, where delivery is completed when the article is put into the mail box. Australia Post does not have an obligation to ensure that the addressee lives at the address. These arrangements are in keeping with Australia Post's terms and conditions.

What to do with mail that is not for you

Australia Post will no longer accept customers' requests that mail for previous occupants be automatically returned to sender (RTS). Australia Post's policy is to 'deliver as addressed'. This means that Australia Post will generally deliver a mail article to the address on the article, irrespective of the name of the addressee, unless there is a mail redirection or mail hold in place for those addressees.

Where a former occupant has left an address and does not have a redirection or hold in place, their mail will generally continue to be delivered to their former address. The current occupant should mark the front of the article as 'return to sender' and 'no longer at this address' and, optionally, 'please update your records', and re-post it to the sender. Mail must not be opened. There is no fee for returning to sender unopened articles.

Alternatively, if the current occupant knows the former occupant's new address, the current occupant may choose to forward the article to the former occupant by crossing out the old address, adding the new address, and re-posting the article. Mail must not be opened. There is no fee for re-posting unopened ordinary letter articles in this way. There is a fee (standard postal charges) for re-posting mail other than ordinary letter articles (for example, parcel or Express Post articles) to anyone other than the sender.

The current occupant may wish to raise with the former occupant, if known to them, the option of putting in place a redirection or hold with Australia Post.

Can I just throw it in the bin?

Australia Post is the only body that can legally dispose of mail and there are specific guidelines under which they do it. Interfering with mail may be an offence, so you should return incorrectly delivered mail as advised above.

Unaddressed junk mail

The Postal Industry Ombudsman cannot investigate complaints about unaddressed mail (sometimes called 'junk mail'). The Commonwealth Ombudsman can investigate these complaints only if Australia Post delivered the mail.

In general Australia Post should not deliver unaddressed mail if there is a sticker or sign on the mailbox stating "no unaddressed advertising material" or similar. However, Australia Post may deliver unaddressed mail if the mail is a 'community notice' such as mail from:

  • local, state or federal governments or their agencies
  • political organisations
  • religious or educational institutions
  • charitable bodies (including benevolent and welfare societies).

These exemptions are authorised under Australia Post's terms and conditions (Schedule 3, clause 2.7). The terms and conditions are established under part 4 of the Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989.

Basic Postal Rate

The introduction of a Regular and Priority letter delivery service for consumers and an increase in the Basic Postage Rate from 70 cents to $1 came into effecton 4 January 2016. Australia Post will continue to maintain the concession stamp price at 60 cents and the seasonal greeting card rate at 65 cents. Information concerning eligibility for the concession stamp, is available here.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has responsibility under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 for the prices oversight of Australia Post’s notified letter services [currently Australia Post’s reserved ordinary letter service which includes the basic postage rate]. On 9 December 2015, ACCC released its decision to not object to Australia Post’s price notification. You can read more concerning the decision here.

Price setting and the introduction of the two-speed letter service are commercial decisions for Australia Post which were considered and approved by established regulatory processes. As a matter of course, we typically do not investigate commercial/price decisions taken by Australia Post.

What about issues that cannot be resolved by investigating my complaint?

We try to resolve your complaint and achieve a better practical outcome for you. Sometimes we may not be able to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction. There are different reasons for this, for example:

  • the terms and conditions limit the compensation payable for loss or damage of 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.

We monitor and analyse the information from all complaints and our investigations. From this we can identify broader issues in policies, procedures and systems. We work to resolve these with Australia Post through our liaison with operational and executive areas, and through more formal channels such as special investigations and reports by the Ombudsman. Even if we are unable to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction, your complaint is valuable for its information and evidence which help in our broader work.