CHOICE membership

PO Box deliveries

We do quite a bit of online purchasing in our household (due to a lack of things being available locally that we want to buy), either via eBay or some other small or big retailer. We also have a post office box where we prefer to have our deliveries sent to. We do however come across quite a few places that will not deliver to PO box addresses. Some say it’s because they use a courier instead of Australia Post, even the ones that use Startrack which is in fact owned by Australia Post and one that happily delivers to PO box addresses, and others who just decide they won’t allow PO boxes even though they use Australia Post to ship the items out to their customers. Whenever we add our PO box as the shipping address, if there are any problems, the order forms usually tells us, or we get a call or message from the seller asking for a different delivery address.

Then there was the experience I’ve just had from a UK supplier (again, due to the item not being available locally). There was absolutely no mention of the item being shipped via a courier, the online form happily excepted our PO box address, and we received no messages asking for an alternate delivery address. We also didn’t receive the package.

From what others in Australia were telling us, their packages of the same item from the same UK supplier all arrived within a week. One person told me a week ago that their package arrived via Fastway Couriers, which set off some extra alarm bells for me. 9 weeks later from the initial date of purchase, we’re still awaiting delivery. I attempted to contact the supplier, Eaglemoss Modelspace UK via their online form, which on all three occasions generated an automated reply stating that someone would get back to me within 48 hours. This didn’t happen. I then tried contacting them via their Facebook page and eventually was told that they’d ask customer service to respond to my queries.

Finally, yesterday, I got an email that said they had attempted to send the package twice, and on both occasions it has been returned as undeliverable. They also mentioned that all overseas orders are sent via DPD couriers and I should probably give a different address to use as DHD won’t deliver to PO boxes.

So not only did the seller accept a PO box address for a courier service that doesn’t accept PO boxes, but the courier also accepted the parcel, knowing full well that they won’t deliver to PO boxes, and they even sent it off to Australia regardless. Unsurprisingly it was sent back to the seller in the UK as undeliverable. To fix the problem, the seller didn’t make contact with me to get an alternate address to deliver to. They instead chose to try and post it off again, using the exact same PO box address that they had been told, by the courier service, couldn’t be delivered to. The courier company then happily took the package again, knowing full well that they wouldn’t be able to deliver it again and sent it off to Australia AGAIN!!! When it was returned as undeliverable for a second time the seller then decided to respond to my queries about where my package was. So hopefully it will arrive at my home address sometime next week. I dread to think what condition it might be in now after it’s made two return trips from the UK so far.

We have a PO box because it’s a more secure option for us. Most parcels go to the post office, the staff put a card in our box to let us know we have something to collect, and we then bring the item home. If we use our home address then packages can get left in the rain, or in view of passers buy who may decide they need the parcel more than we do. We also have multiple entrances to the house and couriers simply can’t figure out that the door on the front of the house is probably the best one to use, so packages have been left, from time to time, in strange locations that we sometimes don’t discover on the same day the delivery occurred. It can be a hassle though when some suppliers insist on using a courier instead of parcel post. For those that use Startrack, if no one’s home, the parcels get taken to the local post office for collection anyway, which shoots large flaming arrows at the sellers explanation that they can’t accept a PO box address if they end up using Startrack. :confused:

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Well speaking as an employee of an Australian company that ships physical items (and the one who wrote our freight calculation software), PO Box deliveries can be fraught. I’m not surprised that an overseas company didn’t know the ins and outs of Australian deliveries - it would be like us having to know everything about the rabbit warren of some asian overseas delivery addresses we deal with.

Our system rules out a PO Box delivery address if any item in an order is deemed too big, and only allows Aus Post as the courier for deliveries to PO Boxes. Also it attempts to make a best guess about if an address is a PO Box at checkout (when the customer is offered delivery options) but that can be tricky with PO Boxes, GPO’s Private Boxes, etc.

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Also sadly given Aus Post’ historic track record with our deliveries we now have any customers asking for a delivery via Aus Post (e.g. to a (PO) Box) click a waiver clearing us of liability for delivery troubles, before they can select Aus Post.

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I don’t have the problem with overseas purchases as I make very few. I do have very similar problems with most couriers nonetheless. We live in a rural area and they don’t want to go off the main road. They consistently take delivery of parcels showing our rural address and THEN start to negotiate another deliver point. Usually the offer is to drop it off at some shop on the main road or in town. If I say “you took deliver knowing it was rural so you should deliver it” I am likely to be abused.

I wouldn’t mind if the vendor caught this at the start by saying that they cannot deliver to my home address or that there will be added fee for doing so. I don’t expect to get extra service for nothing but I do expect those who contract to provide a service should honour their contract and not expect to vary the terms afterwards. So far I have made zero progress with this issue.

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I have all my mail and deliveries sent to the PO Box - I rarely if ever even give out my home address as so many clowns out there don’t understand that a postal address is for posting things to. I also have a parcel locker, and registered for PO Box notifications (email when there is something to collect, which actually works really well). I work half an hour (plus or minus accelerator) out of town and there is usually nobody home during the day, so post works as well as anything.

In the case of Ebay, I’ve had a few tell me after the sale they don’t do PO Box (in some cases it’s hidden between a couple of countries they don’t deliver to) and in the cases of Chinese deliveries they have always come via post anyway if I supply an alternate address - so they just have something against PO Boxes? anyway, I’ve cancelled a few orders on that basis.

Where it’s definitely a courier, I just ask them to ship to depot and call me. This works fairly well, especially now I have offspring who can drive. There’s no point in delivery to home address - stuff just doesn’t survive in this town if left.

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This probably is a really dumb question, but do the Auspost Parcel Lockers work with PO Boxes? If they do would it be better to use them instead of your PO Box addresses (assuming a Parcel Locker is there or at a nearby location)?

You can save the Parcel Locker address with Paypal, which I have done for certain deliveries.

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I registered with the AP online account - free of charge - you can register parcel collect and parcel locker, but they are completely separate to PO box (which does cost, and is also linked to my online account, but just as another address).

When you register the parcel collect/locker you get a fixed number that identifies your service so just use that as your delivery address, ie Parcel Locker 12345678, 33 Smith Street, Smithville, 9999 - so 33 Smith Street will be your post office address, ie the location of the parcel lockers. Depending on the size of the parcel, when it arrives they will load it into an appropriate size box and enter the details into the system - you get an email and text saying your parcel has arrived, together with a one time access code that in conjunction with your mobile number will open the box they put the parcel into. I guess for parcel collect, which is collected from a human, you’d just quote the number. You aren’t supposed to use it for letters - they get stroppy.

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Ahh I just use mine instead of the home address (don’t have a PO Box so didn’t know how that worked). So many times APost and Startrack used to just leave them outside regardless if it is marked Signature Required. I got the Locker to avoid that issue as it is considered signed for when in the secure locker.

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I’m just wondering how legal that is getting customers to tick a box clearing your business of liability for delivery troubles when it’s actually an attempt to over-ride consumer protection laws that state if anything goes missing in transit, even via Australia Post, it is the seller’s responsibility to sort it out with the delivery company or provide a replacement or a refund to the customer. You have the right to refuse to deliver to a PO box, but you don’t actually have a right to change the consumer protection laws to avoid liability if something goes wrong in transit.

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Interesting, I’ll have to check my memory of what our message says. Of course, it wouldn’t be conscionable to expect business to just wear the costs of all delivery failures without guaranteed recompense from the carrier, if it was their failure (e.g. It was provably received by them and provably not delivered/not delivered correctly by them)

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Whether or not a business can recover the cost from the delivery service is the concern only of the business. The business needs to ensure they have protection from failed delivery whether by insurance or by contractual terms with the delivery service/s. You could incorporate insurance costs into your delivery fees ie the shipping and handling costs.

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Indeed it looks to only be $1.50 or so atop Aus Post costs, so I’ll suggest it to the boss. I’ll also have to check what our deal is with Toll Ipec in terms is included insurance.

Of course any small business is generally at the mercy of freight companies, who may internally blacklist a client who has too many/too successful claims against them if they make mistakes. I’d trust Aus Post not to do that, slightly more.

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Looking at the terms and conditions for po boxes, they are supposed to be only used for postage paid mail/services.

It appears that postage paid mail is that franked or stamped by a postal service, and not those delivered by paid courier services. This may be why couriers can’t deliver to PO boxes…with exception of Australia Post parcel services or their overseas equilivants.

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Yeah, that I understand. :slight_smile: My main issue in this instance is that the seller accepted a PO box address and shipped the goods via a courier company who also accepted the parcel with a PO box address. Looking at the website for this particular courier, now I’ve been informed via an email about who they are, they make it quite clear that they can’t, won’t and don’t deliver to PO box addresses. I’m quite happy to provide a home address if needed, but it was never suggested anywhere during the purchase or checkout process that a courier would be used, otherwise I would have simply not given them the PO box address as a delivery address. The fact that it got re-sent after being returned as non-deliverable because of the PO box address, and was accepted again by the courier company was the sour-cream on the cake for me.

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I’ve been looking at the laws concerning missing in transit items and it appears to be one of those fuzzy areas that’s handled on a State level, so the rules are different from state to state, if a state law exists concerning it at all in some instances. The main theme is that the seller is responsible for organising compensation on behalf of the customer from Australia Post or the like if a package does vanish, but a refund or replacement is usually up to the discretion of the vendor, who may or may not want to maintain a reputation as doing the right thing by their customers. So check the State laws for wherever the business resides and see what applies in your instance. You may well actually be within the law to expect a waiver to be ticked.

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Signed a form at local post office to not deliver
expected registered family certificates package as we would be absent overseas for two weeks. Called post office on returning and was told package had not arrived. Our neighbour then gave us mail left in our unlocked mail-box and there was our registered parcel which was not signed for or no card requesting us to collect from post office.Its been a week now and after emailing our complaint Australia Post still say a card was left and please supply registered number on card THAT WE NEVER RECEIVED. Frustrating.

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I suppose being a UK seller, they may not know the restrictions of PO Boxes in Australia…if it was an Australian business, then they should know.

Something one needs to keep in mind when buying overseas and not knowing how product will be shipped (courier or postage paid service).

Also do you know that the parcel was shipped to Australia where it ‘bounced’? It is likely the local contractor picked up the parcel, it went back to the main despatch centre where it was refused and sent back to the sender. The sender probably didn’t know why it bounced, checked the provided receipent address which looked okay (even though it was a po box) and then tried shipping again. The second time they realised there was something wrong with the address.

These sort of problems will arise when trade/purchases become more global. It would even be more problematic where there are language differences as well.

This reminds me a bit of when we lived in China we sent home about 20 Christmas cards…and after about 4 weeks, about half were returned to sender (us in China). We couldn’t work out why they had been returned by Australia post and as we were returning to Australia shortly thereafter, we visted our local post office to find out what the problem was. We were told that since China Post had stuck some stamps on the back of the envelope where it clearly said sender, Australia post could not deliver the cards as they were confused who the sender was. We were not terribly impressed when it was clearly marked on the envelope who the sender was and also when the local post office said that it was China Post’s fault for sticking stamps on the back of the envelope. I replied that China has 1.5 billion people and this is how they send mail, it is Australia which got it wrong not understating how one of the world’s largest counties sends and stamps mail.

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Another recollection I just had with our checkout P.O. Box handling: we ask for an address, and we specifically ask the customer to tick a box to let us know if it’s a PO Box.

They aren’t always truthful; maybe they knowingly give the wrong answer there, maybe they just didn’t notice it, or maybe in their mind Box != P.O. Box != GPO Box != Private Box != Locked Box

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I’d like to be optimistic about it, but the UK based courier company they use specifically states on their web site that they can’t deliver to PO boxes, so it’s not just an issue with parcels destined for Australia. Also, the seller did tell me that it had bounced back because of the PO box address, so they were obviously informed about it by the courier company when they got it back.

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The silliness of this was apparent when I recently switched phone companies and they said they’d send out the new SIM. They wouldn’t send it to a PO Box and so wanted the home address. The courier couldn’t deliver it to me at home because I was at work during the day. So they left a card in the letter box and dropped it off at the nearest post office - which has my PO Box directly outside it.

I’m starting to think ‘Choice’ needs to add a ‘WTF?’ award to the Shonky’s.

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