Australia Post meets the X-Files

I have posted in the past about my difficulties with Australia Post (most recently in this post).  I realise that this may be boring for other readers, so if you have time pressure issues I suggest the back button is a good idea, right about now.  However by spreading my experiences it may suggest solutions to some other folks problems and most importantly forms an archive of what has happened for my own records.

Cutting to the chase, my various administrative documents now seem to be recognised by Australia Post (AP) on-line systems.  How has this happened?  I don't really understand at all but here is an outline of what has happened.

Shortly after Christmas I drew the problems to the attention of our local MP, Dr Peter Hendy.  They drew this to the attention of someone in AP and I was contacted on 9 February by Andrew from AP.  We had an interesting conversation in which I was able to brief him more fully on what had gone on and he undertook to follow up with the Product Manager, Mail Hold and Redirection.  A crucial bit of information is that AP has subcontracted the matching of official records of people's identifiers  (eg drivers licence number) to information supplied when requesting a mail hold to an Agency, of which Andrew didn't know the name.

He rang back and said that the Product Manager had suggested that the best thing I could do was contact the RTA and the Passport Office respectively to find out why my reference numbers might be matching for identity checking purposes.

I expressed amazement at this suggestion since going to either of those two places and saying in effect "Some Agency whose name I don't know can't match my drivers license number to material held by Australia Post.  Why not?"  The answer I would expect to get would be more or less on the lines of "Go forth and multiply."  I commented to Andrew that the Manager appeared to be trying every trick she could to avoid admitting there was something wrong with their system.  The problem with her suggestion of faults in other systems was that my drivers license had worked satisfactorily in the past.

She also suggested trying the final trick of my Medicare Card number.  So I invented a mail hold and went ahead with the intention of stopping before I authorised any payment.  To my astonishment this worked in that I passed step 2, verification, and got to the payment page.  So I then thought I would go back to the start and see what happened with my drivers licence.  Very difficult to navigate backwards (the cancel button appeared not to work) and the system kept "remembering" all my details and not sending me into the Verification page.

This all took a lot of time and Andrew was most excellent in his patience and efforts to help with this.  He suggested trying to put in a mail redirection (again not paying anything) to see if my drivers licence worked.  With some trepidation - since I wasn't sure what would happen if I changed an address with Australia Post - I did this and it validated with no problems.

I thanked Andrew and commented that the only thing I could think of was that somehow in investigating the issue the online services people had fixed up the problem.  Why this was so required either a belief in:
From my point of view two other, possibly contradicting, issues come in to play:
  • The words of Bernard from Yes Minister "In any public enterprise when faced with a choice between incompetence and corruption, put your money on incompetence every time."
  • The written words of Joseph Heller (in Catch #22) "Just because you're paranoid, does mean they aren't after you.
Take your pick!  It will be very interesting to see what happens in a few months time when we go on a trip and want to hold our mail! 

This post gets logged brickbats (for Australia Post generally) and bouquets (for Hendy's office and Andrew of AP)


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