News on Street Addressed Carded Articles

Australia Post has received submissions with regards to Carded Articles from POAAL and POAAL has advised its members that it is disappointed with the response. I understand that AP is not being commercially realistic in relation to their offer of compensation for this service.

MEANTIME AP OFFERS CHRISTMAS ADVICE TO LICENSEE’S ON HOW TO MANAGE PARCELS OVER CHRISTMAS

*Call or SMS customers who have parcels.

* Don’t wait five days to re-card do it after two days.  - In your free time?

* Create a daily report to monitor overdue items RTS after 10 working days.

* Utilise the Parcel Management Guidelines.

* Extend your trading hours or create a dedicated parcel collection area in your store.

* Always put safety first.

So the message is be careful with that overweight oversized parcel as it is your problem now as well as do this on our generous budget of 29.3 cents each including GST.

Yes! AP is being very helpful with its suggestions, but of course the extra cost is yours, and the benefit is more non – paying customers coming to your shop, preventing paying customers doing business, the real bonus here is they bring their hostility with them, because the contractor never attempted delivery and you, the Licensee, get the bill as well as put yourself at risk legally under OH&S requirements.

Good suggestions and very Helpful! What do you think?

Most Licensees I speak to advise that if paid fairly at a commercial rate for Carded Articles they would provide this service but all of them do not want the agro that goes with Street Addressed Carded Articles. The most workable solution is not to attempt street delivery, and card to the LPOs in the first instance, using the $1.60 paid to the mail contractor to attempt street delivery to increase the payment to Licensees.

This solution has the potential to remove the agro from your office and pay for the appropriate level of service, and gives the Licensee a profit.

2012 has seen a number of Licensees successfully resolve their issues with regards to Street Addressed carded articles by withdrawing from this optional service.

However in some rural areas AP has resisted the licensee and have initiated an LPO 11 dispute ensuring further delays. Here in some cases AP has no alternative delivery point and maintain that they have no capacity to pay more than 29.3 cents per article, which leaves the Licensee to fight at mediation at significant cost and delay.

Please see separate article re Woolgoolga LPO in FAQs - St Add Carded Articles.

Mediation, if AP is fair will resolve the matter, but with no increase on AP’s 29.3 cent per article for the service, Licensees cannot continue to provide this service when providing it will see them financially ruined.

Parcel lockers and the oversize network have substantially decreased over weight and oversized parcels in city areas, but not completely, and not at all in rural areas. The LPOs in the bush are getting it in the neck, as well as their backs, as they struggle under the large sizes and increased numbers.

Who said there was a 20kg weight limit? Not in the bush.

The many Licensees who have withdrawn from the Street Addressed Carded Article Service on the whole are very pleased they did and report improved profitability, and with the very big bonus of much less stress. Overall, the comments from them are ‘we should have dumped the service sooner’.

The results of this year’s disputes in this area are that Australia Post still refuses to pay fairly for this service in deference to its obligation to do so. But it has been established that if AP refuses to pay fairly, then the Licensee has a legal right to withdraw from what has been established as an optional service.

WHAT HAS AP DONE

Warning

As a direct result of Licensee’s withdrawing from Street Addressed Carded Article Services on the basis that the service is optional under their existing LPO Agreement, AP, in new LPO Agreements, has changed the status of Delivery of Carded Articles. On assignment of an LPO, AP is making this service mandatory by inserting the word ‘yes’ in the Mandatory column next to the service in Annexure A of the Agreement.

This is highly inappropriate and I wish to point out the following.

The key here is that to be a mandatory Service by AP's own definition, Delivery of Street Addressed Carded Article must be a service preformed by all Licensed Post Offices, not just some. So Mandatory means all, and optional means those offices that AP nominates. It’s their definitions under the LPO Agreement that creates this distinction.

The facts are:

1. The Delivery of Carded Articles fee has never been a Mandatory Service under the LPO Agreement. If it were, it would be referred to and listed as such as such in section 2.2.2 of the LPO Manual.

2. Delivery of carded Articles is an optional service as outlined in Section 2.2.4 Optional Services of the LPO manual. Though not specifically mentioned, it comes under this heading by the definition given, and I quote:

The availability of some Australia Post services at Licensed Post Offices is subject to operational requirements associated with specific services being met. Such services cannot be provided without Australia Post approval.

Whereas Delivery of Carded Articles cannot be considered as Mandatory under AP's definition of same, under Section 2.2.2 of the LPO manual where, and I quote, Mandatory Services are defined as

'products and services which must be provided through all Licensed Post Offices’.

Therefore Delivery of Carded Articles, because it is not a service required to be performed by all Licensed Post Offices, cannot and is not, a Mandatory service under the LPO Agreement.

3. By putting ‘yes’ in the Mandatory column of Annexure A of a new LPO Agreement subject to an assignment, AP are in effect making a variation to the Licensed Post Office Agreement. To do so AP would have to have gained the agreement of POAAL under the Consultative Agreement between AP and POAAL. Agreement to this variation would then require that all Licensed Post Offices provide this service by reason of it being defined Mandatory. There is also a requirement, under Clause 19 of the current Licensees LPO Agreement, that the purchaser is entitled to a similar Agreement to the one currently in place, and to change the Agreement would require AP to enter negotiations with the purchaser for such change, and these negotiations could not be done under duress. It also is a condition under 19b of the LPO Agreement, that Australia Post cannot unreasonably withhold consent to the assignment of the LPO Agreement, and AP requiring the Purchaser to agree to an amendment as advised as a precondition of approval would be held by a court to be unreasonable.

4. To change the status of Delivery of Carded Articles from optional to Mandatory would require, in addition to consultation and agreement with POAAL, Australia Post advising of this change within the Disclosure Document and in this case no advice to this change has been given in this document.

5. In all LPO Agreements ever issued up until June 2011, only the standard annual rate has been included in Annexure A next to Delivery of Carded Articles. This currently being $381.82. The reason for this is that with reference to the manual this is an annual rate for up to 25 per week, and the Agreement with, reference to the manual, gives a descriptive detail of the rate, and for what it is paid. In the new version AP has inserted their nominated rate for the service for this particular office, and in doing this it is incumbent on AP to explain how this rate is derived, and for what number of articles on a per annum basis outlined. This would require more detail than the simple amount given, and a requirement of the Franchise Disclosure Legislation is to fully detail how, and on what basis, a payment is derived and made and this detail should be advised in the Disclosure Document which it is not, in this case, and in Annexure A again, not disclosed.

Licensees should note that this is a blatant attempt by NSW AP management to change the LPO Agreement, without consultation and agreement, with the effect of both gaining a commercial advantage over the Licensee, and removing existing rights held under the agreement by stealth, without proper disclosure, in breach of AP's obligations under the LPO Agreement, Consultative Agreement with POAAL, and the Australian Consumers Legislation 2010, with reference to the Franchise Disclosure provisions and Section 20 & 22 relating to

Unconscionable Conduct.