Australia Post charges fines

I got a nasty surprise in the mail today. I got a notification from Australia Post that a card I had posted had insufficient postage. I had paid $1.20 when they said it was an irregular size so the postage should have been $2.40. Fair enough, BUT in addition to paying the extra $1.20 to get the postage up to $2.40, I was fined $2.50. This is completely unreasonable (and possibly not even legal), as I was unaware that it was required. It was an honest mistake; had I been wishing to deceive AP I would not have put my return address on the back of the envelope.
I am one of the few people that I know that still sends cards. Australia Post now has me rethinking the value of doing this - they may well have just lost another customer from their ailing business.


While you might consider it a semantic difference, it is a documented ‘service charge’ described at this hotlink. Relevant text follows:

Will my mail still be delivered if I incorrectly calculate my postage?

Australia Post can carry an item with insufficient postage that was lodged in a red street posting box, and then issue an Underpaid Mail invoice to the sender to claim the amount of the deficient postage plus a service fee.

We may also decide to take other actions depending on the circumstances, such as withholding the item for delivery until the deficient postage is paid or seeking payment from the addressee when a sender is not identified.

Where we take such actions, we will communicate this directly.

You can read more about recovery of postage on underpaid items under Section 28 of the Australia Post Terms and Conditions (PDF 725kB).


The $2.50 is a service fee for their time and costs advising incorrect stamp value has been used.

Underpaid mail - Australia Post.

$2.50 seems reasonable as they had to prepare the notice and get it to you.

Australia Post publishes letter sizes and weights covered by standard postage rates. It is important when sending a non-standard size, such as that which exists for some cards, to find out what the appropriate amount is.


Yes, possibly not even legal if it were a “fine” - which is why they call it a “service charge”.

Whether “$2.50” is a reasonable service charge is debatable but no-one is going to take legal action over “$2.50” so your options are
a) cease sending snail mail (boycott their monopoly service), or
b) suck it up.

Attempting to interpret the rules is one option. As far as I can tell, a “Standard Letter” for $1.20 is “Small letter or postcard - Up to 130 x 240 x 5mm - Up to 250g”. So I would imagine that the OP’s envelope had as its smaller dimension a length exceeding 130 mm or its larger dimension a length exceeding 240 mm. Perhaps @Oceanmapper could clarify what the dimensions actually were.

(Because all standard letters are sorted automatically, there can be a genuine extra cost in processing anything that fails the automatic sorting process.)

Another option is to post it through a post office (rather than in a street posting box). That way you have a receipt covering exactly what you were sold, and you are far more likely to be paying the right amount.


It is our responsibility to be an informed customer. We ought to take a good look at the informations published by companies and if we’re still not sure on how to proceed call in or phone them and ask.
So many of the posts in the community reveal that only too late they’ve seen negative comments on product review about those goods or services they are now having a problem with, and that’s only one example. Doing a good research before hand would save consumers a lot of money and trouble.


This may not be convenient for you, but my solution is to go to the post office to pay the postage for every item.

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One also needs to look carefully at the small print!
AP also refers to regular/irregular letters. A reference to the shape of the posted item. It’s to do with the ratio of the length and width. Note: 1

Hopefully AP correctly measured the posted item.

As infrequent as it is these days, rather than keep stamps we post over the counter. Lucky to still have one, the LPO is located in our small shopping village along side the Chemist, Butcher, Hair specialist, etc. Inconvenience minimal.