CHOICE membership

Even snail mail is too much for Australia Post

Last week I ventured in to a nearby post office with a birthday card that I intended to post to England. From some years back, I found a stamp for $2.95 that I affixed, but I thought I should check at the counter, expecting the postage would inevitably have gone up in price.
The employee said “ it’s $3.50” so I asked for stamps to make up the cost, please. She opened her drawer and replied, “well I haven’t got anything like that, it’ll have to be $1.10. “ Seeing my slight surprise at what she seemed to find an outrageous expectation, she asked” well, can you do $1.10?”
I didn’t want the card to be any more delayed than I am sure it has been, so I nodded, and saw a $1.10 stamp ripped out and a hand outstretched for payment.
So my $3.50 purchase was up sold to $4.05. Or else, a trip in the car two suburbs to the next post office, in hopes.
Is there something wrong here, with what used to be a “service”? Or am I a wimpy idealist?


reveals how limited they have become, and for international ‘top ups’ →

Unless indicated otherwise, international post charges are GST-free. A range of specially designed GST-free stamps are available for international mail. If you use a postage meter to apply postage to international mail, you are required to apply postage at 10 percent above the published rate to offset input credits you may claim. If you wish to use domestic stamps on international mail, then you are required to affix postage at 10 percent above the published rate, for GST purposes.

Basically your old $2.95 international stamp was GST free so IF you could buy a domestic stamp to top up to $3.50 international, the domestic stamp would need to be $0.55+10% GST ($0.60 rounded) or a total of $3.55 postage mixing international and domestic stamps ! They don’t want to deal with the possible variations of international and domestic so they don’t.

As an aside, years ago the USA (no postage tax applies) solved the problem by issuing a Forever Stamp. As time passes it always represents the current cost of postage, and is priced at the current cost of postage at time of purchase.

Unlike the USA, our governments only see that they would be losing money they claim is rightfully theirs (ie. Auspost’s) and won’t have any of the simplicity such a stamp would provide.


A few years ago Australia Post changed from having a range of stamp denominations (starting at 5c), to stamps of the value for standard letters (starting at 60c upwards in the exact amount of standard postage).

We used to buy small denomination stamps (5c, 10c etc) and take them as gifts when we travelled overseas. These days have long gone.

Even postage outside standard letter values, the post office no longer issues stamps but a printout of the postage on a stick-on type docket. Dockets aren’t a collector’s dream item.

Those who stamp collect may find opportunities within Australia decrease over time.

It isn’t a reflection of service, but streamlining to save costs.

Adding $1.10 stamp is correct as indicated by Australia Post, as it is the easiest and cheapest way to meet the current UK postage using an old stamp. The $0.60 stamp, while possible, would only be an option if you are a concession card holder…as they can only be purchased by concession card holders. I have tried to get $0.60 stamps myself for a concession card holder I was buying for… to no avail, and had to get the concession card holder go to the PO to buy their own stamps. Bureaucracy gone mad might be more correct than reflection on service.

1 Like

This page on the Australia Post website seems to have a range of stamp denominations available for International use.
I was not offered a machine docket for the top up value, and I didn’t think quickly enough to ask. It would have been acceptable, as I was only concerned to post the item, not in having pretty stamps. Nor was I asked about concession entitlements.
My take is that the post office I visited did not keep a range of stamps and so preferred to deflect the request by rudely indicating it “couldn’t be done.”


I wasn’t aware of these being available online, but they can’t be purchased individually. They have a minimum online order size (such as min 20 for 5c international stamps).


Back to nothing but the best service for us? One might reasonably expect a PO could sell/dispense just one, not demand a bulk purchase?


Indeed. The minimum online order is about $1 worth ( 10 @10c, 5@ 20c, 4@ 25c, 3@ 30c,) but the 50c minimum order is 1.
The accompanying information says “ The 50c International Stamp is best used to make up any shortfall to the full cost of sending your postal item overseas using existing international stamps.”
It would be helpful if one could expect to buy it from a designated Australia Post Office.


In retrospect, you could have bought the smaller denominations online, but, with ‘standard postage’ to get it to you, may have had to pay possibly the same amount as that in the post office to get them delivered. Purchasing online becomes practical and cost effective if one had a bunch of old stamps.

I suspect local post offices don’t hold these stamps as they aren’t frequently used and thus there isn’t a need driven by demand. Most consumers wouldn’t have old stamps to top up their value and would be purchasing stamps based on the full standard postage rate?

This approach is similar to many other retailers where some items are online purchases only, and not available in store. When I have asked why in the past at another retailer, it is for reason outlined above…lack of demand for product in store.

1 Like

Most of us realise Auspost has been made to operate as a for-profit business not a public service and is a de facto monopoly for letters, unlike the myriad businesses that manage their inventory, or the competing parcel/courier services.

That is an explanation, but should (not does) it hold water?

I have these ‘valuable’ stamps I have been tempted to use now and then, but each time the make-up postage was always too inconvenient to impossible so keep them we do. They might become collectors items for my great great great grandchildren so they are kept in a safe place, removed from their safe place to scan at great risk for this post. :expressionless: I think the wrong finger is extended.


Several replies here treat your experience as typical of the whole postal service at all times, can anybody show me that is so? Is it possible that on the day that particular PO had only a very narrow range of stamp denominations available?


If there was normally a ‘solution’ at that PO or LPO, wouldn’t one expect there would be more than a single ‘solution’ to top up the postage? That would be the reason I assume they cannot be bothered and it is how they operate.

The bit I don’t understand is why they could not [can not? would not? ] print any arbitrary amount of postage to stick on, and did so.


AP has been on a continual path of changing it’s levels of service, postage rates and packaging options. Or so it would seem. Clearly a frustration for those with unused stamps.

We post stuff occasionally. As we use a PO Box it’s not inconvenient to simply pay postage over the counter as needed. For larger items there has always been good advice on the cheapest or most expedient option from our LPO franchisee. Those wanting to skip that option will find two post boxes outside the LPO entrance. Don’t look anywhere else for one.

I doubt we have a supply of unused stamps, although if of unused lower value they may be useful for the stamp album or swaps in the not too distant future,


Thanks everyone for the interesting input. But I can’t help thinking some of the replies might be different if I were reporting a retailer who refused to honour a gift voucher because "we don’t sell that value now”. Since when has an old stamp not been able to be used at its face value, however it might need to be topped up?

My mother for years amused me by sending letters with multiple stamps obviously retrieved from stamp albums and tallied to the current price.

Until Australia Post publicises that postage needs to be via current stamps only, I will continue to expect Australia Post to enable postage, of any denomination, to be purchased from their post offices. Anything less is a denial of service. Does anyone seriously suggest that keeping several sheets of 5c, 10c, 25c etc stamps is a serious drain on their inventory? I can buy cookbooks, soft toys, mobile phones and computer backup drives from Australia Post, but not small denomination stamps? What is their core (monopoly) business???

I still have some old Christmas stamps that I hope to use, or top up, in future. I’ll keep you posted (pardon the pun)…


Delivering dividends to government is their only KPI as best I can tell.

If you cannot, I could put them in my safe place with my 2 x $0.75 stamps to preserve for when they might become valuable collector items.

More seriously have you lodged a formal complaint about your experience and the seeming absurdity of it? I have made complaints by form as well as phone over the years. Some resulted in observable action, some black holes, but if there is nothing in their complaints register ‘it’ never happened in their world.


This isn’t your experience. They accept older stamps. Is what you are proposing that Australia Post should honour the value of the postage stamp when bought rather than that of today…for example, if it cost $2.95 to send a letter to the UK when you bought the stamp, they should allow you to use a $2.95 stamp even though a letter has increased in price to $3.50? That would seem to be unreasonable.

And then you are proposing that Australia Post have any denomination of stamp available at all times, just in case someone has an old stamp and decides to use it, but it is insufficient to cover the increased postage.

While it would be ideal that Australia Post has every possible denomination of stamps at every AP outlet, why should a business provide perfect solutions for customers who don’t use the stamp when purchased. It seems to be possibly a customer issue as well as a AP issue, and it is reasonable for AP to cover every customer scenario possibly not resulting from AP actions?

This is different. If you bought a $50 gift card which you could buy a toaster for 3 years ago…but the toaster is now $65 when you redeem the gift card, should the retailer sell you the toaster for $50 as this is the value assigned to the gift card on its purchase. One couldn’t expect this being the case.

If a customer only wanted to buy using gift cards, should a business retain every possible gift card denominations to cover changes in prices (say a $15 gift card even though it isn’t a standard amount for a card). This would be possibly seen as being a unreasonable expectation.

1 Like

My reading is all that was expected was the ability to buy the postage required to top up from $2.95 to $3.50, no GST required.

FWIW that is how the US Forever Stamp works. An offset is that the USPS has the value of that $(eg) 2.95 for potentially years before its use is called in. From your post can we assume what is reasonable and implemented in the US is unreasonable? Or is it a simple solution to a problem of people having postage stamps and the rate periodically increases. BTW, the USPS dispenses all sorts of small denomination stamps in addition to the Forever Stamp as a service to those needing top-up postage, and they can also print postage as required. Aren’t we equally deserving of ‘service’ rather than T&C that provide anything but, if that is what has happened?

Responding to that, why not? They can (or should be able to) print whatever value is required, no stock required.

1 Like
  1. My goodness, it is not uncommon when posting a parcel at a PO that has run out of most-efficient-value stamps, to be given, say, 6x 50c for $3. It doesn’t matter, as long as the job is done! What is an affront is finding that the PO, the official seller of postage, bluntly asserts that 55c “ cannot be done” and that it will “have to be $1.10”, certainly a discouragement to anyone presuming to use an old stamp. You will be out of pocket.
  2. The analogy with gift cards would be the retailer announcing that a $15 topup of my $50 gift card “could not be done”, and that if I wanted the $65 toaster , I would have to pay their preferred topup of $25, thus making them a neat profit on the transaction.

That is exactly what would happen with gift cards, if there wasn’t a $15 gift card available.

What you are seeking is the retailer having a greater range if gift cards to suit a limited number of customers.

If Australia Post currently sold standard stamps which didn’t meet the value of the standard postages…eg. a $2.95 stamp when no article could be posted for $2.95, then yes they should have denominations which can be added to a $2.95 stamp to make it up the standard postage. Australia Post doesn’t currently sell such stamps and smaller denominations aren’t required. They are only required for a limited number if customers who may have kept stamps for many years, where standard postage has changed significantly.

For smaller denomination stamps, the cost of production (and waste when not used) will likely exceed the face value of the stamp. It isn’t good business practices to produce something only to sell it at a loss.

While it is unfortunate in @malabar case that a stamp was kept for too long and the standard post has increased for letters now sent to the UK, AP shouldn’t be responsible for customers who keep stamps too long before using. What is being asked is a business should carry out its activities to suit every customer. This is unreasonable as one could argue that a supermarket also sells butter in 453g blocks of butter because a customer has an old recipe which requires a pound of butter. Such is unreasonable proposition, just like expecting AP to keep a significant range of different stamps to meet those customers who chose to use old stamps.

It would be interesting to know why this couldn’t be done. It is possible that their docket system mirrors stamps where only set values, based on standard postage, can be issued. It could also be that a mix of dockets and stamps aren’t accepted universally in other countries. Only AP will be able to answer this.

1 Like

It is all defined in the Universal Postal Union conventions.

1 Like

They are able to print a label with a postage charge, as asked further above why wasn’t this option made available to the poster?

They simply asked for a stamp to cover the required difference, but were told nothing but $1.10 was available. I would think the printed label qualifies as a postage stamp for the purpose of mailing an item. Hence a 55c label should have been made available.