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

Australia Post branded ATMs

australia_post_atm_smelb.jpgSticking out of the window of the Australia Post shop on Park Street South Melbourne is an Australia Post branded ATM.  This ATM has appeared in an area well serviced with ATMs by banks and other commercial operators.

There was no need for Australia Post to enter a well serviced marketplace, no need for this government owned monopoly to leverage its protected name and status to take business from private enterprise.

This is what Australia Post has been doing for years – under successive Governments.  There appears to be no stopping of the extent to which this wholly Government owned and protected enterprise will go to take revenue from the private sector.

The only value associated with this ATM is the Australia Post brand.  The Australia Post brand only has value because of its government protected mail service.  The government backing and guaranteed foot traffic makes it easier for Australia Post to make this move.

There is no point in complaining about this to the regulators, they will look into it and say that Australia Post is acting within the Act.  I have been down that road before.  This is a political problem which requires a political solution.  What we need is politicians who care about business and, in paticular, small business.

Where will one of these Australia Post ATMs appear next?  I will be interested to see how far this network grows.

I am grateful to a reader of this blog for the tip and photo.

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  1. Sarah

    What if we all wrote to our local members – many voices is louder than one. Also, maybe forward some of your info to the QNF. They are pursuing these sorts of problems.

    We are tired of seeing the Australia Post shop in our centre introducing new lines that we are already selling (selling the same cards, ink, photocopying, faxing, gifts – and all only after we had them first).

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  2. Luke

    Sarah, I know you cannot change the price of cards, but even at good margins we have found we are a lot cheaper on all our lines compared to the Australia post stores. Thier achilles heel is that they cannot lower prices at individual stores so as long as you are cheaper then I would shout it from the rooftops.
    We have a large sign in our shop that states ” don’t be ripped off by Aust post, we are the specialist”.
    Again you do not have to give up margin as our prices are always better, and you will not get into price war because they all government owned stores need to be on the same pricepoint.
    Just a thought, go after the buggers.

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  3. Daniel

    Devil’s Advocate: Is it better for Aus Post (and it’s 35,000 staff) to be unprofitable and solely supported through tax dollars, or to be profitable through a wider range so as not to draw from the public purse as heavily.

    By using less Government revenue (via profits on other lines) the Government is less reliant on increasing their key sources of revenue…i.e income tax and business tax.

    Just a thought……..?

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  4. Angelo

    Luke, Like you I do shout it from the rooftops via large A Frames doubled sided posters out the front of my newsagency with fantastic results. Daniel Tax dollars pay or should pay for all Government activities why should Aus Post be any different? In my view it is down right disgusting that a Government is competing against small business like this.
    I can barely tolerate the LPO’s and appreciate there are needed in small towns but I’m afraid this type of blatant one sided competition is uncalled for.

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  5. Daniel

    Angelo, I can’t agree. Of course tax dollars should pay for Government activities, but you have to remember that ultimately YOU, WE, ALL OF US are paying for these services through our business taxes, personal taxes, stamp dutys, capital gains tax and so on and so forth. If you remove the profitability of Aus Post, or other Government run businesses, (for example, Telstra before it was privatised) you are basically saying that you want your taxes to support the staff at these businesses…for AUs Post this is around 1.5-2 billion dollars in wages alone, not including the requirements for superannuation, holiday and other leave payments etc.

    This would be an extraordinary burden on ALL facets of the economy. And you forget that LPO’s are small businesses as well….just like newsagents. They too have mortgages, families, insurances and so forth and are completely entitled to act as competition in the marketplace. Why should you be a protected species? LPO’s are not corporately owned…they are licensee run.

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  6. Y&G

    Competition? More like exploitation.

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  7. Luke La

    Daniel, my understanding of Australia Post is that it is there to carry out a service – mail delivery. I didn’t realise that they were in the small to medium size business arena competing with small businesses as well???

    OK, say Australia Post should be profitable and going into the lines that small businesses already service (are they going to add milk and bread, too?) – what will happen to small businesses once they put them out of business? There won’t be any business tax revenue then, will there?

    On another point, instead of increasing competition and squeezing small businesses just to make it viable, why not look at limiting the politicians’ wining and dining etc limits?

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  8. Michael

    Another point is producing a huge profit then putting stamps up 5c, Why?

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  9. Angelo

    Daniel, I can’t buy stamps from our local Post Office because I am too close to them. They get way better POS collatoral for mobile phones even though I hundreds of handsets more than they do. I can’t offer any postal service products because they are Aust Post exclusive. Aust Post stores don’t suffer any penalties from landlords for not opening on Public Holidays. I can go on for a while…..Who are you kidding about being a proteced species? I know about LPO’s and stated that I can tolerate them. It is the corporate owned stores that burn my shorts.

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  10. Brett

    Australia Post is running a profit! It should run cost neutral. It can do that on postage products alone. The Govt should hang their heads in shame for competing with Mums and Dads who have put their homes on the line and who live or die on small margin stuff.

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  11. Mark

    The Act under which Australia Post operates makes for interesting reading as I have covered in this blog before. My view is that it does not permit Australia Post to go as far as it does in its corporate stores. I made representations along these lines to the Minister responsible some ready ago – Helen Coonan. For some reasson, politicians do not seem interested in fixing the problem and are happy to permit the protected business to compete on unfair grounds.

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  12. Julie

    It is about time the politicians reined in Aussie Post. They should sell stamps and deliver mail and stop takeing our sales on the back of protection.

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  13. Nahcoob

    LPOs around here (in Perth most smaller suburban post offices are LPOs, while bigger shopping centres have the GPOs) are fine. Just a very limited range of Cards and Stationary, and various trinkets sorta impulse buys (kids toys and books). GPOs get on my nerves because the service is rude, the line is long and for everything they sell on the side, good luck getting info about it from the drones behind the counter. The fact that they’re selling things like PC Monitors and Netbooks really show how extremely far away from the Act they’re operating.

    Those ATMs would be a money spinner too. Say they charge $3 a transaction.. then yea, I say no more.

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  14. Thomas

    Do the ATM’s offer any extra services that may not be on Bank ATM’s? There could be a real market for delivering some of the services (like banking) through these and free up staff to serve customers who are trying to use the postal service.

    Trying to do simple things like collect and send mail are now painful experiences thanks to the Post Office wanting to be everything to everyone, but conveniently forgetting that they are there to be a postal service.

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  15. Y&G

    Thomas, you’re right. It’s enough to make their customers go all postal…

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  16. Jarryd Moore

    Daniel,

    The postal services provided by Australia Post should essentially be run as a “cost recovery” enterprise. That is, the money charged for protected postal services should cover the costs involved and the controlling entity (Aus Post) should make little or no profit from this.

    All aditional activities are using legislative protection as an advantage to compete with private sector retailers. Retailers aren’t asking for protection. They are asking that Aus Post not use their protection to lessen true competition.

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  17. Jarryd Moore

    Mark,

    From my perspective this isn’t a legislation problem ,but rather a political one. The Act governing Aus Post is ambiguous and does provide some scope for its current activities without expressly defining the limitations of those activities. As long as the government supports it no judiciary is likely to rule against the actions of Aus Post.

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  18. Mark

    I agree. While the Act is the structure through the problem occurs, it requires a political decision to resolve. Hence my long-held view that lobbying is the only way to turn this around. The federal ministers I have discussed this with agree – but they gave little hope of change.

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  19. Sarah

    So why aren’t we lobbying? We would be better to try and fail then to have never tried at all. Surely there would be enough newsagents who could take this to federal members to get some sort of response.
    Even if there is no resolution it would still be worth doing so politicians know that we have a voice.

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  20. andrew

    Ausralia Post is a monopoly that only runs it’s own course but creates and dissolves business growth as the current political party sees fit. These parties are from both sides of politics and are partial to industries that suit the party at a given time .The closet to any sort of private sell of post services was with the Howard rule but even his desire was going to be limited due to the powerfull union forces that are connected to the communication industry , ie: the CEPU. It is this union that holds all the trump cards whos structure goes well beyond the LABOR party.In basic terms Aust Post make their own rules and control most media regulation of content to regulate flow of business trends through the Australian economy.

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