Australia Post and its subsidiary StarTrack have admitted they likely engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct when they failed to accept compensation requests and incorrectly advised some business customers that no compensation was payable to them for lost or damaged articles for four years until October 2022.
In a court-enforceable undertaking accepted by the ACCC, Australia Post and StarTrack (together, Australia Post Group) have undertaken to provide compensation for lost or damaged parcels to about 10,500 affected business contract customers and fewer than 1,000 recipients of StarTrack deliveries.
The total compensation is estimated to be about $2.9 million.
Under the consumer guarantee rights in the Australian Consumer Law, consumers can request a remedy if a product is not of acceptable quality or a service is not performed with due care and skill, fit for purpose or supplied within a reasonable time.
The law exempts certain transport services for the purpose of a business. In October 2018, that exemption was amended with the effect that from that time, consumer guarantee rights applied to the transport of goods to a recipient who is not carrying on a business in relation to the goods.
Australia Post Group failed to apply the amended exemption correctly, and on that basis did not accept claims from businesses which had articles lost or damaged in transit.
“The failure by Australia Post Group to provide business customers with the remedies they were entitled to is extremely concerning, but we acknowledge that Australia Post self-reported this conduct to the ACCC,” ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said.
“We are pleased that Australia Post Group has undertaken to provide compensation for this error and to put systems in place to ensure similar errors are not made in the future.”
Between 26 October 2018 and 31 October 2022, Australia Post Group failed to accept some compensation requests from business contract customers for lost and damaged articles. It also incorrectly advised some business contract customers that no compensation was payable to them.
“Business contract customers who sent goods to customers without a business purpose which were lost or damaged in transit with the Australia Post Group have been entitled, and continue to be entitled, to consumer guarantee rights,” Ms Carver said.
Australia Post Group reported this breach to the ACCC in May 2023.
In the undertaking, Australia Post Group has also committed to implementing a compliance program, including staff training and informing the ACCC about the progress of the compensation program.
A copy of the undertaking is available at Australian Postal Corporation and Star Track Express Pty Limited (Australia Post Group).
Information for businesses and individuals eligible for compensation
The remediation program will provide compensation to business customers who were potentially affected by Australia Post Group’s conduct. Business contract customers can claim the cost of postage plus interest. Receivers of StarTrack deliveries identified as potentially affected by the conduct will also be able to claim an amount for the value of goods lost or damaged, plus interest.
Many business customers will automatically receive compensation. The Australia Post and StarTrack websites will explain who is eligible for compensation and whether they will need to take action. The websites will also feature a claims portal through which to lodge a claim.
Australia Post Group will not provide clickable links or phone numbers and will not ask for email or text message responses, as these are methods that are frequently used by scammers. Customers should report these to Scamwatch.
It will directly contact around 10,500 business contract customers and fewer than 1,000 receivers of StarTrack deliveries it has identified as potentially affected, and will provide them with automatic remediation or a unique reference number and instructions on how to lodge a claim.
Business customers who made claims for compensation from Australia Post Group for lost or damaged articles between 26 October 2018 and 31 October 2022 will be contacted within 2 weeks and invited to submit claims, or will receive automatic remediation.
Eligible customers may receive a credit to their account with Australia Post Group, a credit to their nominated bank account, or be sent a cheque. If the cheque is returned to sender or not deposited within 12 months, the amount will be paid into a state or territory unclaimed monies fund.
Non-business customers, whose articles are lost or damaged, may have rights to receive compensation under consumer guarantees. Consumers who have questions about their experiences with Australia Post can contact (03) 9640 1791.
Claims need to be submitted within 6 months from the date a customer is contacted by Australia Post Group.
Further information is available at the Australia Post Group Claims Portal or on (03) 9640 1791.