Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Australia Post closed today, upsets customers

Mark Fletcher
December 29th, 2006 · 30 Comments

Government owned Post Offices are closed today. Customers at Forest Hill this morning were angry and came into our newsagency venting. The closure is odd given Australia Post’s community service obligation; requirement to operate on a commercial basis and that it justifies the sale of stuffed bears, calendars, greeting cards and the like on the need to subsidise its mail service. Maybe if it opened on usual commercial days it could better cover its costs.

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The closure today is proof of benefits Australia Post it receives through Government ownership. They access trading and lease terms unavailable to small business. They abuse their customers by closing on a regular trading day. They hurt small businesses around them by turning off traffic.

If other businesses had full access to the Australia Post exclusive range, Australia Post would not close today.

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Category: Australia Post · Newsagency challenges

30 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Thomas // Dec 29, 2006 at 11:31 AM

    The day off is apart of their EBA because of the extra hours worked up to Christmas

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  • 2 mark fletcher // Dec 29, 2006 at 11:35 AM

    Australia Post should be able to roster to cope with this. Businesses need to operate. Australia Post has an obligation to the community.

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  • 3 Clem // Dec 29, 2006 at 2:15 PM

    Crap! Extra hours are paid in overtime. This is an outdated practice and it is arranged by the children running the lollie shop. You have the bosses negotiating with the workers for them all to have a holiday!

    You local LPO (not run by the government, but by small business owners) is told by their AP manager that they have to open, so there are around 3000+ post offices open and only 865 (whatever) that are closed around Australia.

    I believe the ground swell of disapproval is reaching mainstream media and that is why the LPOs are told to open, and the corporates will probably loose this entitlement in the near future. They are talking on their new EBA now, so stay tuned!

    Happy New Year to all :o)

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  • 4 Leigh // Jan 3, 2007 at 7:47 PM

    Australia Post is expected to work around the clock right up until Christmas. Majority of Australia Post Staff are also unable to take holidays over Christmas.

    If you tried working for Australia Post over Christmas you wouldn’t know what hit you!!
    Whether it’s in a Post Office, Delivering Parcels,clearing Street Posting Boxes or in the Customer Care Centre, no one gets a chance to breathe – even top management come down to help the frontline staff!

    Majority of Outlets may have closed for the day, however there were more than enough open to cater for everyone. The extra day off was such a relief for staff and their families and was greatly appreciated!

    Think of how many private Businesses are closed for a week or 2 over Christmas/New Years!

    Australia Post took 1 day off, I don’t think it was unreasonable considering the hard work they put in over Christmas.

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  • 5 mark fletcher // Jan 3, 2007 at 7:54 PM

    Leigh, If the staff don’t like it they can work elsewhere. Newsagents are open 365 days a year. They work 16 to 18 hour days. Most newsagencies open no later than 7 and close usually by 6pm. Many are open much longer hours. And newsagents do this for an average annual salary of $40,000. Yeah, Aussie Post staff have nothing to complain about. All the best, Mark

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  • 6 CJW // Jul 26, 2007 at 9:56 PM

    Mark, concentrate on running your small business, rather then whinging about what is ouside your area of control or change, If you do not like it, life is to short, get out and enjoy something you do!

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  • 7 mark fletcher // Jul 26, 2007 at 10:04 PM

    CJW, Thanks for the advice. What I can try and change is the government use of the monopoly it created to compete unfairly with my newsagency and others like mine. I owe my employees and other stakeholders that. Mark

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  • 8 brett woods // Dec 24, 2007 at 12:39 PM

    that is pretty poor form australian post xmas eve not on

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  • 9 Ben // Dec 27, 2007 at 8:41 AM

    Mark,

    Or perhaps you could increase your sales by having a ‘post-Christmas sale’ on the day that Australia Post closes (once again, one day every year).

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  • 10 Charles // Jan 1, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    Why can’t Australia Post simply put a note on their website about what days they are open and closed including industrial action?

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  • 11 Jim // Jan 1, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    Leigh & CJW,

    As apologists for Australia Post you pair are full of crap and fail miserably!

    We found out at 7pm Wednesday night (via this blog)that our long distance runs covered by contractors would not be operating because the poor darlings at Australia Post considered themselves overworked and in need of a day off, ostensibly because there would be NO mail to deliver which sort of flies in the face of Leigh’s comments about how hard the cosseted angels of AP work at Christmas. Never mind that these contractors work out of an LPO and had other freight to carry.

    Can you imagine the chaos if every business in Australia gave up the ghost the day before New Year because they had worked so hard. No road freight, no deliveries, etc, etc, the list goes on but these poor bastards operating under an Australian Government protectionist policy take a day off at short notice! What a joke!!!

    Mark has continually blogged here about the inequities of a government-owned business continually ignoring its charter and core business at the expense of small business – those privately-owned businesses operating outside a Government-supplied safety net can hardly be compared to a people-owned, taxpayer-funded, (supposedly) community-minded business operating under a monopoly to provide a core service. Your argument leaks dangerously Leigh.

    CJW – you obviously don’t know shit from from clay (you’re probably enjoying your long weekend courtesy of AP) – go find another forum e.g. http://www.dropkicks.com – they love people like you!

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  • 12 clem // Jan 2, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    The day is the same time every year, just like the Bank holiday, mechanics holiday, and all the other Union negotiated holidays in different industries.

    Our local delivery guy still serviced his regular customers on New Years Eve. He is the AP contractor, but he respects the other customers he has and still comes out that day (A 65 km journey to here and he goes further along also). Your contractor did not have short notice, he just didn’t remind you that he wanted, as a private operator, to have a day off from servicing all his other regular bread and butter customers. Have a go at him, it is his choice.

    As far as putting on their website when closed for industrial action, maybe the media could have been a bit better at relaying to the public all of AP’s media releases that they had more then enough staff plus casuals to get the work done. I ordered an item from New Zealand on Thursday 17th Dec, and it arrived on Monday 21st Dec.

    No delays for the most part. I reality the snap strikes and illegal pickets were soon taken care of and most items went through very quickly.

    Most of the delays were, as usual, because people like to blame Post when they are too lazy to actually post the item. Many times people get caught out lying when the labels show exactly what time and day the item was lodged.

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  • 13 Jim // Jan 2, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    Clem,

    The reason our contractors didn’t work is that the LPO they work from was closed (apparently in breach of their contract if what I read here is correct). Too bad for those wanting to pay tax commitments, etc prior to year end.

    I think you are referring to what is quaintly known as the Australia Post “picnic” and it has never happened around here at this time and has always been advertised – not this time. As for the “picnic”, I’ll guarantee the AP boys were eating caviar on toasted multigrain (thanks to the overtime you mention) – most of us who work for a living probably ate shit sandwiches – that’s if we had time to eat.

    But this blog isn’t just about days off – it’s about the continued abuse of small business perpetrated by AP under the protection of government-subsidised monopolies, piss-weak politicians and successive governments who not only tolerate but seem to encourage this abuse. Have you spoken to your local federal MP about it – I have tried 3 times to get a written response from my local MP but it ssems she is too busy organising numbers for Tony Abbot to even acknowledge e-mails let alone respond in a suitable manner – I guess at least I now know where SME’s sit on her agenda.

    Oh – and has anyone heard from our erstwhile associations on this topic – it seems that whenever an email is cc’ed to particular VANA executives, the email is mysteriously never received. I guess if you ignore something or someone for long enough they might eventually disappear.

    It just goes to prove that politicians and association representatives aren’t really all that different – some just tell better lies than the others!

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  • 14 Chris // Jan 3, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    Hey Jim,
    Lets also blame the Global Financial Crisis on the Associations!!
    Why not? If the bear shits in the woods lets balme the Associations. If the Pope is not a catholic, lets blame the Associations.
    I hoppe those sandwhiches didnt taste too bad.

    Chris
    Reservoir

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  • 15 clem // Jan 3, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    I thought this blog was about a range of different subjects, mainly newsagent related, but you say:

    “But this blog isn’t just about days off – it’s about the continued abuse of small business perpetrated by AP under the protection of government-subsidised monopolies, piss-weak politicians and successive governments who not only tolerate but seem to encourage this abuse.”

    Mark actually does bring up other subjects, which are often interesting and entertaining, but some of the followers here just tilt at the same windmills all the time.

    My point was that your delivery contractor, and apparently the LPO, decided to not provide a service to their other customers. That may be worth taking up with them to make them realise that it it not good business practice.

    That AP has for many years allowed the Union to negotiate a picnic day like many other industries has little to do with the Government and a lot to do with Union strength.

    I personally think all these picnic days and many other public holidays are ridiculous, and as a small business person that worked all day on the 31th Dec, same as every year, I hate the whole thing.

    My main original point was that the delivery guy here isn’t lazy like some, he actually cares to service those customers that support him all year, just like many LPOs do that actually stay open even though most of their town’s businesses have closed between Christmas and New Year, and half of the population has gone to the coast.

    By the way, either the holiday has happened every year and was advertised, or it didn’t ever happen and wasn’t advertised.

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  • 16 clem // Jan 3, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    Oops, make that I worked on the 31st, not 31th! It was dead quiet and very boring, but my customers that come in all year around deserve that service. They are good to me and it is not a good idea to take a day off just because others are, that is not the lot of a small business that appreciates everyone that comes through the door.

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  • 17 Mark // Jan 3, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    Chris,

    As a Director of VANA you had an opportunity to engage in more useful dialogue.

    You and I have discussed the role of associations several times in the last year. You asked what VANA should do – as have directors before you.

    VANA should focus on being an association. It should stop fighting with GNS. It should stop trying to be a supplier.

    Maybe Jim and others would be less critical of VANA and the ANF if they actually serves as associations first.

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  • 18 Jim // Jan 3, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    Touche!

    Clem – I gather we all agree and I guess you are lucky that the LPO’s in your area weren’t that over-stressed and in need of a day off (having finished a 4 day break just 3 days earlier).

    Chris – before you became a director of VANA, a ticket was successful in putting 3 new directors onto the VANA board on the promise that things would change for the better – well, we still see VANA focusing on pseudo-commercial issues in direct competition with GNS, where has VANA been on the News Ltd contracts, where has VANA & the ANF been on the Australia Post vs small businesses issue – I think I know who has been on a picnic.
    The only change in VANA’s direction and efforts has been the names and faces, certainly not the results!
    P.S. The sandwiches were vegemite but the look & taste was the same!

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  • 19 TONY FAZOLI // Jan 3, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Chris at least you are having a go. Too many armchair critics out there. Thank you for giving your time and energy

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  • 20 Chris // Jan 3, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    Jim, you are way off the mark if you think that vana, anf or any other assciation for that matter are not fighting as hard as they can for newsagents. There has been tremendouis work done behind the scenes and sometimes results of this nature take time to come to fruition. My argument with you is that you need to stop blaming associations for everything that is wrong in your world. People have put tremendous hours in to help the plight of newsagents. Its not as simple as clicking your fingers and presto, Australia Post stops becoming a retailer. No fair minded person wants the government as a competitor, and it may take many years of lobbying to get some result. In any case be assured that there are many people involved in all associations doing a commendable job of fighting for newsagents.

    Vana does focus on being an association, and has accumulated a vast amount of tools to help its members.

    Chris
    Reservoir

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  • 21 julie // Jan 3, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    Behind the scenes is the excuse used by vana for years. They were working behind the scenes on bill express and did nothing. No, they did not do nothing, they told me to keep paying the lease. They were wrong. They were not doing anything behind the scenes.

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  • 22 VANA SUPPORTER // Jan 3, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    CHRIS YOU ARE AT LEAST HAVING A GO AND ALSO KEEPING US INFORMED. I CONGRATULATE YOU. TOO MANY PEOPLE THROWING CANS FROM BAY 13.

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  • 23 Mark // Jan 3, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    I am not seeing Chris keeping anyone informed. He is critical of people who criticise VANA for its failures. The is only one way to stop the criticism.

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  • 24 David // Jan 3, 2010 at 6:12 PM

    Oh pleaseeeee what has Chris spoken up about here? He just sooks when people criticise vana.

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  • 25 Nick // Jan 3, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    Chris is always available by telephone and email if I need help. He has been very willing to invest in the industry with both his time and a brand new store to show how a newsagency is run. I know several people who have gone to his store to see him to get personal advice and he even tried to talk me into joining the marketing group he is in. I think he is great for our industry and I know he works hard for vana members as I hear from others in the industry that he goes into bat for them. I suppose there are things that have to be kept behind closed doors until they are ready to be announced. It would be good if everyone worked together, but that never seems to happen with us newsies

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  • 26 Jeremy Barnes // Jan 3, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    I have an AP around the corner from my shop and I use it as a point of difference. Just like newsagents there are some good ones and not so good ones. I am cheaper on most items and make sure I price check. I even buy stamps from a wholesaler and sell a lot of them. i have them covered in most cases and customers tell me they prefer my shop. there are also a lot of combined newsagents and post offices aren’t there, they get the best of both worlds?

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  • 27 Jim // Jan 3, 2010 at 11:04 PM

    Chris,

    My criticisms are not aimed at you personally – far from it.

    Likewise I am not blaming associations for everything that is wrong in my world – what I am criticising is inactivity or, if there is some claimed activity, ineptness on the part of associations where they can have influence and effect. I don’t expect them to go to bat for me on every single issue I face but I do expect them to be proactive on industry-wide issues and I don’t believe any of those I have touched on fall outside this category.
    If I thought associations were to blame for every issue I face I wouldn’t bother to keep paying my membership. I actually believe in associations and the need for them but as a rank & file member I also believe I am entitled to take a shot at the organisation when required.

    It is easy to say that there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes and I understand the need for confidentiality on some of this but how long do we have to wait for positive results. We do seem to get lots of negative results. Name one issue since you joined the board that has been resolved in favour of newsagents (and please don’t mention N-Stock or whatever it is called now).
    No-one expects miracles or instant solutions – plain, sound advice would suffice but this has hardly been the case e.g. Bill Express – and don’t dismiss that one as history. There is enough egg on the collective faces of ANF and VANA to make a million omelettes over that one.

    In the particular case of Australia Post, if the associations are fighting as hard as you claim, why hasn’t this been conveyed to members – not the nitty gritty details, just the fact that something is happening – or is it??

    Finally, how can VANA be focused on being an association when it devotes dollars, time and other resources to commercial activities that are in direct conflict with newsagent-owned entities?

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  • 28 John // Jan 4, 2010 at 8:02 AM

    The debate on this blog whilst sometimes petty shows me a lack of understanding of retail. I’d be glad to take on a government run business, they are easy to beat as they are mostly heavily unionised, attract a lot of the wrong people and when you compete against them they fold like a house of cards. Sure they have some advantage but in the case of Oz Post they are also dealing with a very mature and outmoded model with their front of house, thats why they are pinching a lot of your customers and stock ranges to give them life, whilst they are innovating behind the scenes.

    I am in the supermarket game and have thought about coming into your industry. After doing my homework, I am asking myself the question, should I just take it like a lot of your competitors are doing.

    SMEs are hard at the best of times, but what the newsagency industry lacks is a point of difference from existing competitors and the fact there are too many of them.

    Too many poorly run newsagents and not enough good ones to hold back the tide of opinion.

    Its not up to associations or politicians to make you a better retailer, its incumbent on the retailer to compete, find new markets of find a USP or point of difference. Most people who come into small business including supermarkets and buy themselves a job and expect a huge gain at the end when they sell and they too do not survive just as many of you struggle.

    I thank you all for letting me read your comments and give my point of view in return for being able to read yours.

    John

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  • 29 Mark // Jan 4, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    John, As my posts here on Australia Post show, I’m happy to compete. My core frustration with Australia Post is that the federal government has taken its network of 850 or so government owned stores outside offering postal services and into my space. They leverage their monopoly protection in pursuit of my customers.

    No amount of being a better retailer can compete with the protection of their monopoly

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  • 30 John // Jan 4, 2010 at 7:15 PM

    It will get even more interesting with Ahmed Fahour as the new MD of AP

    http://www.auspost.com.au/BCP/0,1467,CH4822%7EMO19,00.html

    If he privatises like Japan Post in will be even more competitive and take even more market share. Ahmed Fahour is a world class business leader and someone who really makes it happen.

    John

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