Case studies

Namita* sent a parcel overseas with Extra Cover, which is optional protection sold by Australia Post for items of more than $100 value. The tracking information showed the parcel was delivered to the destination country but had been held by the destination country’s customs authority for several months.

Namita contacted Australia Post and asked what options were available. Australia Post said it would seek to have the parcel returned and if the parcel could not be returned, it would pay the value of the item to the complainant because they had purchased Extra Cover.

Australia Post traced the parcel and confirmed it had been seized by the overseas customs authority. Australia Post advised the customer that because the parcel was seized by an overseas customs authority and had not been lost or damaged, it considered that compensation was not payable.

Namita contacted our Office as the PIO to lodge a complaint and we investigated the matter. In response to our enquiries, Australia Post advised the overseas customs authority had held the parcel for 5 months but then destroyed it because the applicable customs duties were not paid. Australia Post explained it is the sender’s responsibility to check whether duties apply when sending items overseas.

Upon review, Australia Post agreed that it should have advised Namita to contact the overseas customs authority. It acknowledged that Namita likely did not contact the overseas customs authority because of Australia Post’s advice that its staff would take steps to assist.

On this basis, Australia Post agreed to provide full compensation of $3,200 covering both the value of the item and the cost of postage.

*This case study has been de-identified to protect the privacy of the complainant.

Posted February 2024

Edward* was studying a bachelor-level course and wanted to study a trade at the same time. He enrolled in a trade course with a private education provider and paid over $6,000 in tuition fees and application fees. The trade course provider was aware that Edward was enrolled in another course.

Edward attended orientation with the trade provider and tried to arrange a suitable timetable to fit into his schedule but was unable to do so. Edward emailed the provider to advise he wished to withdraw and request a refund. He sent several follow-up emails, but the provider did not respond.

Edward contacted the Office as the OSO to complain. The Office investigated the complaint and assessed the terms of the provider’s written agreement with Edward. The written agreement did not comply with elements of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) legislative framework, and included terms that appeared potentially unreasonable, as it only permitted refunds in very limited circumstances.

The Office was also concerned that the education provider accepted Edward as a concurrent student, knowing that Edward was studying full-time with another provider, without:

  • giving an indication of available study times
  • counselling Edward about his obligation to meet course requirements for both courses while on a student visa
  • providing Edward the opportunity to withdraw without penalty if the study timetables did not permit him to attend both courses.

In our view, international students wanting to enrol in concurrent studies should not bear all the risks of not being able to proceed. Education providers that accept these students into a second course should be aware of the challenges of successfully engaging in concurrent study and accept some of the associated financial risk.

As a result of our investigation, the provider agreed to pay Edward a refund calculated in line with legislative requirements and update its written agreement template to ensure compliance with the ESOS framework. The provider also agreed to amend its process for accepting students in concurrent study to ensure students have a better understanding of the challenges and are allocated a fairer distribution of risk.

*This case study has been de-identified to protect the privacy of the complainant.

Posted February 2024

Geraldine* purchased a year of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) from Allianz, underwritten by Peoplecare, ahead of her studies in Australia from March 2020 to March 2021. However, her flight to Australia was cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and she was unable to enter Australia for the entirety of her OSHC cover period.

After travel restrictions were lifted in 2022, Geraldine arrived in Australia and contacted Allianz to request a refund of her unused policy. Allianz asked her to complete a refund form and provide supporting documentation. Geraldine provided the form and documentation to Allianz on the same day but did not receive a response or acknowledgement from Allianz. She followed up with Allianz by email on 3 occasions but did not receive a response.

Geraldine subsequently lodged a complaint with the Office as the PHIO. We referred the complaint directly to Allianz for further resolution. Under the Office’s assisted referral process, the insurer should contact the person within 3 working days to give them an update on the case and respond to us when this is completed.

Following our referral, Allianz contacted Geraldine and provided her with a refund of $529 for her unused policy.

*This case study has been de-identified to protect the identity of the complainant.

Posted February 2024