What do you get when you go through a global pandemic that disrupts freight and postal services around the world with a massive increase in online shopping? The answer: a lot of lost and delayed packages.
If this has happened to you, don’t panic. There are several things you can do to get compensation (although your safest bet is to order what you need well in advance).
You may be entitled to compensation in certain circumstances.
Can I get a refund if my package is delayed?
It depends. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), if a business has accepted payment for an item, they must provide it to you on the date you specified or within a reasonable time (if no time limit has been specified. ).
But due to the supply chain and delivery delays caused by COVID-19, “a reasonable amount of time” is longer than usual these days.
While companies are not obligated to reimburse just because the product you purchased takes longer to arrive, you are entitled to compensation if they are no longer able to provide it.
Due to the supply chain and delivery delays caused by COVID-19, “a reasonable lead time” is longer than usual these days
You may also be eligible for compensation in certain circumstances.
“Australia Post and other providers will sometimes pay fees in limited circumstances,” says a representative of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, who handles consumer complaints about certain sectors of the postal industry – in particular Australia Post (including StarTrack), FedEx Australia (if the complaint refers to something that happened before April 2021), Check-Mates and D and D Mailing Services.
“For example, they may cover the cost of reissuing a passport required for urgent travel to replace one that cannot be located,” the representative explains.
How to make a complaint
Your first stop should be to try to resolve the issue with Australia Post or the courier company responsible for your package.
“Our advice to people facing a delivery delay is first to complain to the service provider”, specifies the mediator.
“If the supplier does not give them a timely or satisfactory answer, the consumer can contact the Office [of the Ombudsman] Make a complaint.
Our advice to people experiencing a delay in delivery is first to complain to the service provider
“Ultimately, a delayed item may be declared lost, in which case a consumer may be entitled to compensation under Australian Consumer Law or if they have purchased additional coverage.”
Australia Post encourages its customers to contact them at auspost.com.au/help if they have delivery issues. In many cases, they will compensate for a lost item if its value is $ 100 or less. For anything more expensive, Australia Post recommends that you purchase additional coverage before sending the package.
Contact the retailer
The ACCC also suggests that you contact the company providing the package you were supposed to receive, as a company has an obligation to provide the goods and services you paid for.
While the company itself is not responsible for the loss of a package if the loss is the fault of Australia Post or another courier, many companies will be happy to work with their customers to find a satisfactory solution.
Border closures and staff shortages have had an effect on deliveries.
Why are the packages so delayed at this time?
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused all kinds of delays across the country (and around the world).
Whether it’s international and interstate border closures, postal and shipping facility closures due to COVID exposures, or staff shortages due to isolation or other health requirements, all had an effect on deliveries.
The pressure on the system has become so acute that in early September Australia Post suspended all services to e-commerce retailers in NSW, Victoria and ACT in an attempt to clear the backlog.
The rise of online shopping
To complicate matters further, Australians are shopping online more than ever. In fact, in 2020, more than four in five Australian households (nearly nine million in total) purchased online – a trend that continued to grow in 2021.
“Last December we delivered 52 million parcels, the biggest month in Australia Post’s history,” an Australia Post spokesperson told CHOICE. “That was passed in August of this year and early indications are that this Christmas will be our biggest yet.”
All carriers under stress
And it’s not just Australia Post that’s feeling the pressure. Courier companies are also hampered by border closures and staff shortages caused by the pandemic.
In addition to all this, some workers go on strike to try to improve their working conditions. For example, at the end of August, 7,000 Toll employees left their jobs. Since then, workers at Star Track (owned by Australia Post) and FedEx have also gone on strike.
Will things get better before Christmas?
It seems unlikely. Much will depend on keeping NSW and Victoria on track for their respective COVID reopens, as well as sentiment among individual businesses and their workers.
Australia Post has announced plans to hire 5,000 more workers ahead of the busy Christmas season and expand weekend deliveries to new areas to meet demand, which could ease some of the pressure .
The system is still likely to be quite overloaded during the holiday season
But realistically, in light of the continuing pandemic and resulting border closures and staff shortages, the system is still likely to be quite overloaded during the holiday season.
In short, ordering your Christmas presents in advance is probably a wise decision.