Thursday, 23 October 2008

That doesn't help me, it helps you

I just got off the phone with Australia Post and I'm not happy. Even though they were very polite to me, they failed to provide a good customer service experience. This issue requires a bit of backstory.

While in Melbourne last weekend, I'd bought two half-cases of wine and paid for them to be delivered. I have no car, so I left explicit instructions for the parcels to be left on the back doorstep if I was not at home.

I got one of the little blue cards in the post yesterday, telling me that they tried to deliver one of the parcels to me in the 1 hour when I was out of the house getting some lunch. I figured that the winery must have forgotten to put the "in case not at home" message on the parcel, so today I decided to just fetch it from the post office.

I damaged my knees fencing, a couple of years ago, so walking eight blocks while carrying a heavy box is painful for me. My arms and knees both ache, now, but I got the parcel home... only to find a second little blue card in the mailbox.

The parcel from yesterday clearly has the "in case not at home" instructions printed on the outside, so I figured I'd call up Australia Post and see if they could actually do what I paid them to - which is to deliver my second parcel to my house.

I called them up and waded through their long telephone menu-system to get to a real human being. The man at the other end seemed kind enough, but the only option available to him was to allow me to lodge a complaint against the contractor who failed to follow the given instructions.

I don't really want to lodge a complaint - I just wanted my parcel delivered - which is what I paid for.

I asked the man if he could find anyone that would be able to help me get what I wanted. He went back to his supervisor, leaving me on hold, and returned to tell me that the only way I could get it redelivered was to call up the people that I originally bought it from (some winery out in the Yarra valley - I don't know which one as the parcel is still sitting in the aussie post office), and to get *them* to call aussie post and figure out if their contract supports "redelivery-on-failure"...

Good grief! From my POV it's pretty simple:

  1. I paid for delivery to my home
  2. Aussie Post stuffed it up
  3. Aussie Post should find a way to get it right

Instead of finding a way to get my parcel to me, they kept insisting that they were helping me by starting up a complaints process and making sure it "never happens again". If you want to reprimand your contractor, that's your business. It will help you improve your own processes over time, and no doubt his non-instruction-following is the weak link that broke in this particular chain of events...

But doing this isn't going to help me. Getting my parcel to me helps me - that's all I want, and Aussie Post wasn't willing ot help in that regard. I was a customer on the line right then and there with a problem that Australia Post caused - and wasn't able to get any resolution that actually solved that problem.

I was left with the feeling that Australia Post wasn't willing take responsibility for this mistake and do something about it. Instead they wanted to shift the blame to the contractor, and then claim that responsibility was out of their hands.

This reeks of bad customer service.

If you want to leave a good impression with your customers, follow one of the basic rules of human conduct: if you stuff up, take responsibility and try to fix it. Whatever you do, don't just give a reassurance that it won't happen again... we won't believe you. After all, you've just proven that you can't be trusted. At least if you try to find a way to give me what you promised in the first place - it'll go a long way towards reassuring me that you can act in good faith.


Brad said...


I really feel for you.

I was an Australia Post Parcel Contractor from Nov 2006 to Jan 2008.

Once, I forgot to pull down the back lift-up door in the van - drove away and a carton of wine fell out and broke all over the road.

I cleaned up the road, went to the local bottle shop and tried to replace as much as I could. When I arrived at the delivery address, I told them what had happened. They were over the moon.

I guess I'm saying that, there are such people in the world that take customer service very seriously. I would suggest speaking with your local Delivery Centre Manager - not the local post office manager.

Good luck!

Taryn said...

Hi Brad - wow, that's amazing customer service, I'm impressed.

I certainly agree that there are people out there that truly believe in serving the customer - I try to be one of those people myself. I guess that's why I feel so let down when other people don't also feel the same way.

Thanks for the advice, though - I'll see if I can get in touch with the DCM instead. :)