Waipapa Vs. NZ Post Is this another win?

It appears we've passed the Commerce Commission crazy nut-bar test, and been escalated to management for further scrutiny. I asked for a follow-up email, to my follow-up phone call, which is C&P'd below.

Some of you have been following this saga I have been chipping away at, which is a little complex, so the full story is below - and with this little breakthrough, I am a wee bit excited. 



Re: Courier Post rural delivery surcharge on standard courier routes

Our home address is absolutely rural, and to have a package couriered to our home address attracts a rural surcharge which, as of 1 July 2017 for Courier Post, is $3.70 per package. This is because there is no standard courier run in our area and packages must be handed on to the rural postie, meaning two people must be paid for the delivery of the package and fair enough.  To avoid paying this rural surcharge we have packages sent to my husband’s workplace, which is located in a very busy shopping and industrial area, Skippers Lane, Waipapa, 0295. 

Waipapa, about six minutes from Kerikeri has a very large Warehouse store and chain stores such as Postie Plus, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Noel Leeming, Lighting Direct, Stirling Sports, as well as hairdressers and beauty salons, cafes, boat building yards, car sales yards, mechanics and farm machinery repair and suppliers – so a very busy, bustling area.  And an area that Courier Post, through their address checker deems to be rural and therefore needs the surcharge paid to have a package delivered there.

To be perfectly clear, the business/industrial area of Waipapa is serviced by the rural postie who in their red van delivers letters and other NZ Post items once a day, Monday to Friday, any package (not in a NZ Post pre-paid package) delivered by this red van attracts a rural surcharge.  

The Courier Post drives a yellow van and picks up and delivers from my husband’s workplace up to four times a day on a standard run.  The other main player in this area is NZ Couriers who also, despite having a standard courier run in this area, have an address checker website that advises this area requires a rural surcharge to be paid.
No other courier or delivery company deems the business and industrial area of Waipapa to be a rural address.

Courier account holders check addresses using the address checkers provided by these businesses and of course charge appropriately.  They have found that when a mistake has been made on an address or when some people, trying to avoid the rural surcharge been dishonest, have omitted the RD and the rural surcharge is then back-billed to the account holder.  Therefore, telling sellers that the business and industrial area of Waipapa does not work.

Early in May 2017 I emailed Courier Post customer services and received this reply:

"Thank you for contacting CourierPost.
I am sorry to hear this. I am currently following up further with our Whangarei depot as to why your address is classed as Rural when our courier services it and I will contact you within two working days with an update."

This was followed by a phone call informing me that the area is rural.  After some discussion I asked my issue be escalated upline and, about ten working days later, I received a phone call from XXXXXX, Business Manager.  We discussed this issue and he told me he had spent his Christmas Holidays in the area and was surprised to hear it was considered rural and also that he was aware of similar issues in other areas.

I followed this up by email on 7 June and received the reply below on 8 June:

“There is an issue between couriers and the Postal codes still unfortunately.
I can confirm that the charge is not applied by Courierpost to the addresses mentioned but until the NZ Post post codes change it will show as rural.
Having spoken to the team who action this they are aware there is an issue but until postie runs change it will continue to be an issue.
At this stage they are unable to give a time frame but from my understanding that if Waipapa continues to grow then it will change. I cannot see Waipapa decreasing in size so I am hopeful that this will change sooner rather than later.

I understand this does not help today but at some stage it will be changed.
Of course this will be difficult to explain to a sender of parcels in the meantime.”

So, Courier Post are informing customers by their website, and their call centre customer helpline that the Business and Industrial area of Waipapa is rural delivery and requires payment of a rural surcharge of what is now $3.70 per parcel. This is despite knowing that the parcels are not handed to a rural mail postie and are delivered by a standard courier run. Courier Post are charging for a service that does not exist.

By reply email I informed Mr XXXXX that I will be pursuing this matter through a number of avenues, the Commerce Commission, Fair Go and the Minister of State Owned Enterprises Hon. Todd McClay.  Mr XXXXX reply follows:

“Just to clarify Courierpost is NOT charging rural delivery fees to the Waipapa address you gave me.
NZPost or mail deliveries are considered as a rural delivery address to the same address.
If a sender sends an item to you without a rural ticket attached, on a Courierpost item Courierpost will NOT process a rural charge on it.
Unfortunately the NZPost address finder states it is a rural POST address which is correct for NZPost products.
The charges are being applied by the sender (in error) due to a cross over in post codes and not by Courierpost. This will be due to the postcode finder showing the address as rural which is correct at this stage.
What this same postcode finder does not show is the courier does not treat this address as rural.
This will only change once the address becomes a non rural postal delivery address which I am unable to provide a timeframe on.
Hopefully my explanation give a bit more clarity around rural deliveries to the Waipapa address. I have provided feedback to the postcode team and they are aware of the issue and when the postal runs change this will be updated.”

In my reply to Mr XXXXX I included the link to the Courier Post address checker as it seems to me that surely a stand-alone company would have their own address checking software https://www.courierpost.co.nz/tools/address-checker/  Mr XXXXX reply:

“NZPost are the owners of Courierpost.
The Courierpost website uses the NZPost postcode finder for reference on the Courierpost website. As such there can be cross overs as NZPost treat Klinac Lane as rural yet Courierpost does not treat the address as rural.
To break it down further if the delivery is done by a rural NZpost driver (usually in a red van or similar with NZPost branding on the side) they have a scanner in their vehicle to show the rural team delivered and as such this is when the rural charge would be applied. The yellow Courierpost branded vans in general do not have a rural scanner and as such no rural charge would be applied and nor would the standard 2-3 day rural delivery delay to deliveries apply.
I can see and I understand that there is a cross over between Courierpost and NZPost due to Courierpost treating the address as non rural but NZPost treating it as rural.
Until the NZPost rural delivery team change the postcode from 0295, which as you can see from the link below encompasses a very large area around Waipapa and beyond this confusion and issue will apply.
The rural delivery team are aware of the issue regarding Waipapa but I cannot give you a timeframe of when this may change.”

At the end of the above email is this statement:

“As you can see above that if a parcel is sent through the Courierpost network to the Waipapa address Courierpost will not add an extra charge even though the Courierpost website suggests that we will.”

Of course most sellers do not know this, and have been caught out too many times to believe a buyer telling them this, and Courier Post is pocketing an extra $3.40 and from 1 July 2017 $3.70 per package on each sellers “error”.

The Fair Trading Act 1986 makes it illegal for businesses to mislead consumers, give false information or use unfair trading practices[1].
Every aspect of the address finder, the help-desk call-centre information and the business manager saying there won’t be an extra charge even though the Courier Post website says there will is misleading to consumers, gives false information and is unfair trading practice and it seems the Waipapa Business and Industrial area may be the tip of the iceberg.

The Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 guarantees that good or services should match their description[2].
The rural surcharge is for the service of having packages forwarded on to the rural postie who then delivers in rural areas.  Courier Post is advertising that customers pay for, and accept money for a service that simply does not exist.

The Commerce Act 1986 prohibits anti-competitive behaviour, such as price fixing[3].
The two largest and most easily accessible nationwide couriers who should be operating independently are the only couriers charging a rural surcharge for the Waipapa Business and Industrial area. . I believe it is probably not a coincidence that both Courier Post and NZ Couriers are charging a rural loading, but delivering on a standard courier run.

There are many businesses in this area and thousands of parcels are couriered in every day. It is fundamentally dishonest for Courier Post and NZ Couriers (who I have not made contact with, but who also follow this practice) to charge a rural surcharge for the area but deliver using a standard courier van.  The Courier Post depot is a five minute walk from my husband’s workplace and the NZ Courier depot a five minute drive!




I have not heard back from Fair Go, I even had a front-person who along with their business was prepared to be on TV, because I'm certainly not.
I have not heard back from the Minister of State Owned Enterprises Todd McClay, I know it's the opposition MP's that stir, but I am keeping some reserve.
I have not heard back from John Campbell. 

I have heard from the Commerce Commission, and here it is - 

Dear Susan
RE: Enquiry Number 503078 – Courier Post
Thank you for your telephone call this afternoon regarding your report.
Your report has been referred to our Screening Team for further assessment. They will assess whether we consider there to be a potential breach of the Fair Trading Act, and whether we wish to pursue the issue further.
(ends)

And we will go from there!

17 September 2017
Update.
I've just been on to the NZ Courier address checker and the Business area of Waipapa is now showing as standard delivery. Well done NZ Couriers. 

5 December 2017
I managed to get a couple of Journos interested, one from the Spinoff (or so she claimed), a lot of initial noise, then the long drag to silence. Another from a local paper, again a bit of noise descending to the long drag of silence, with a claim of 'just so busy' on the way. 

NZ Post, by it's own admission is charging fees for a non-existent service, that is stealing from people in our area, and they are aware it is happening in other areas too and no one cares. I've been chasing this for about six months.

I've spoken to a businesses in the area who find it a real problem, one actually has things sent elsewhere to avoid the rural loading added to the parcels delivered on a standard run. To add insult to injury, the Courier Post depot is in the same 'rural-zone' area, 5-7 minutes walk. 

We vote in a new govt who have set about passing new laws, yet we can't even have the ones we have enforced. 

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So I received a phone message,which I returned and left a message asking for correspondence to be by email. 

4 March 2018

Hi Susan, 

Further to our phone messages, you have requested I outline our position in writing. 

The rural charge is applied to NZ Post and CourierPost parcels to offset the costs of delivering to remote or low density delivery areas. A rural area is not defined by the mode or mechanism of delivery, and we reserve the right choose to use whichever delivery method is most appropriate (e.g. a motorbike, courier or rural contractor).  

There are a number of factors that are considered when determining whether an area is deemed rural. We regularly review our network, including rural areas, and we expect that Waipapa will be reviewed in the future to confirm if the current definition is appropriate. However, at this time, Waipapa is considered a rural area, and therefore the rural charge applies to parcels delivered there. 

I wish to apologise again for any confusion caused by previous correspondence, and we have followed up internally to ensure all customers are provided with correct information about our services.  

It is appreciated that you have taken the time to bring your concerns to our attention.  I do hope this information has provided some clarity in the matter.

Kind regards


Head of Parcels
New Zealand Post


5 March 2018

Thanks for your reply.

Your explanation is completely opposite to the correspondence I have had with a Business Manager of Courier Post, copied below. 

6 June 2017
"There is an issue between couriers and the Postal codes still unfortunately.
I can confirm that the charge is not applied by Courierpost to the addresses mentioned but until the NZ Post post codes change it will show as rural.
Having spoken to the team who action this they are aware there is an issue but until postie runs change it will continue to be an issue.
At this stage they are unable to give a time frame but from my understanding that if Waipapa continues to grow then it will change. I cannot see Waipapa decreasing in size so I am hopeful that this will change sooner rather than later.

I understand this does not help today but at some stage it will be changed.
Of course this will be difficult to explain to a sender of parcels in the meantime."

8 June 2017
"Just to clarify Courierpost is NOT charging rural delivery fees to the Waipapa address you gave me.
NZPost or mail deliveries are considered as a rural delivery address to the same address.
If a sender sends an item to you without a rural ticket attached, on a Courierpost item Courierpost will NOT process a rural charge on it.
Unfortunately the NZPost address finder states it is a rural POST address which is correct for NZPost products.
The charges are being applied by the sender (in error) due to a cross over in post codes and not by Courierpost. This will be due to the postcode finder showing the address as rural which is correct at this stage. 
What this same postcode finder does not show is the courier does not treat this address as rural.
This will only change once the address becomes a non rural postal delivery address which I am unable to provide a timeframe on.
Hopefully my explanation give a bit more clarity around rural deliveries to the Waipapa address.
I have provided feedback to the postcode team and they are aware of the issue and when the postal runs change this will be updated."

15 June 2017
"NZPost are the owners of Courierpost.
The Courierpost website uses the NZPost postcode finder for reference on the Courierpost website. As such there can be cross overs as NZPost treat Klinac Lane as rural yet Courierpost does not treat the address as rural. 
To break it down further if the delivery is done by a rural NZpost driver (usually in a red van or similar with NZPost branding on the side) they have a scanner in their vehicle to show the rural team delivered and as such this is when the rural charge would be applied. The yellow Courierpost branded vans in general do not have a rural scanner and as such no rural charge would be applied and nor would the standard 2-3 day rural delivery delay to deliveries apply.
I can see and I understand that there is a cross over between Courierpost and NZPost due to Courierpost treating the address as non rural but NZPost treating it as rural.
Until the NZPost rural delivery team change the postcode from 0295, which as you can see from the link below encompasses a very large area around Waipapa and beyond this confusion and issue will apply.
The rural delivery team are aware of the issue regarding Waipapa but I cannot give you a timeframe of when this may change.
(Address checker link supplied)
As you can see above that if a parcel is sent through the Courierpost network to the Waipapa address Courierpost will not add an extra charge even though the Courierpost website suggests that we will. "


As Courier Post account customers, who send to Waipapa without paying the rural loading, aren't back-charged, while Courier Post account customers who send to actual rural areas without paying the rural loading are back-charged - I tend to believe the explanation given by Business Manager from Courier Post. 

Perhaps you could have a quick look at a map of Waipapa to ascertain where the parcel depot is in proximity to the Waipapa shopping area and Kerikeri (which is not considered rural).  

There is no possible way the Waipapa business area, essentially a suburb of Kerikeri, 5 minutes drive through built up area from central Kerikeri, could, or should be considered rural, especially since it IS delivered on a standard courier run (as confirmed by Business Manager).

To quote you: " The rural charge is applied to NZ Post and CourierPost parcels to offset the costs of delivering to remote or low density delivery areas. A rural area is not defined by the mode or mechanism of delivery, and we reserve the right choose to use whichever delivery method is most appropriate (e.g. a motorbike, courier or rural contractor). "

Remote or low density areas, again there is the proximity to the Courier Post depot (right in the Waipapa Business Park), there is nothing remote or low density in the Waipapa Business Park. During our phone conversation the Business Manager mentioned that he spent his 2016/17 Christmas holiday in the area and was very surprised to hear it was classed as rural, he also mentioned that he was aware of other areas in New Zealand experiencing similar rural delivery cross over issues as Waipapa.

There has been a very large Warehouse there for 18 years and it has many businesses, such as Noel Leemings, Stirling Sports, Kerikeri Colour Centre, Car repair mechanics, panel beaters, automotive parts distributors, machinery suppliers, two hire centres, plumbing shops, several farm supply stores, boat builders, Bed, Bath and Beyond, a $2 type shop, Postie Plus, Cafe's and takeaways, NOSH, a fruit and veggie shop, an artisan butcher, a Grow and Brew Shop, Lighting Plus, several designer decorating stores, Caroline Eve women's clothing retailer, Bedstop, a thriving bookshop, hairdresser, beauty salon, dive shop, pharmacy, doctor, several lawnmower retailers, a Carter's building supplier, a liquor retailer, pub and restaurant, several car sales yards, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.  

I live in very rural, very remote and low density, North Hokianga. Any parcel that is sent or couriered to me at home attracts a rural loading because it has to be passed on to the rural postie to be delivered and both workers must be paid. That is the understanding for rural loading. That is what your website says and it that is what your customer service team also advises (as per advice above from Guruav above).

It is simply not acceptable for Courier Post to continue charging a rural loading to an area serviced on a standard run and I certainly hope that after weighing all the factors, changes will be made as soon as possible. 

I look forward to hearing from you. 


8 March 2018


Hi Susan,
It is correct that the NZ Post addressing system references the post code. Both CourierPost and NZ Post deem the address 2 Klinac Lane to be rural due to the area it is within. The information previously provided is therefore inaccurate in terms of your specific address and we apologise for any confusion caused.
You have been incorrectly advised that the application of the rural charge is dependent on who delivers it.  I.e. if delivered by a courier this the charge is not applicable, and if delivered by a rural contractor it is. Rather, our definition is based on the costs involved in delivery to remote locations.  Clarification has been given to those previously involved to ensure correct information about our services is being provided.
We will continue to review our network and thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Kind regards
Head of Parcels
New Zealand Post


8 March 2018


Thanks for your reply. 

You state, "Rather, our definition is based on the costs involved in delivery to remote locations". 

I will reiterate, as sadly it seems the reality of the of the area in question is a problem. 

There is no possible way the Waipapa business area, essentially a suburb of Kerikeri, 5 minutes drive through a built up area from central Kerikeri, could, or should be considered rural.  

Remote or low density areas - again there is the proximity to the Courier Post depot (right in the Waipapa Business Park), there is nothing remote or low density in the Waipapa Business Park. There has been a very large Warehouse there for 18 years and it has many businesses, such as Noel Leemings, Stirling Sports, Kerikeri Colour Centre, Car repair mechanics, panel beaters, automotive parts distributors, machinery suppliers, two hire centres, plumbing shops, several farm supply stores, boat builders, Bed, Bath and Beyond, a $2 type shop, Postie Plus, Cafe's and takeaways, NOSH, a fruit and veggie shop, an artisan butcher, a Grow and Brew Shop, Lighting Plus, several designer decorating stores, Caroline Eve women's clothing retailer, Bedstop, a thriving bookshop, hairdresser, beauty salon, dive shop, pharmacy, doctor, several lawnmower retailers, a Carter's building supplier, a liquor retailer, pub and restaurant, several car sales yards, two service stations, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

There is no more cost involved in delivering to the Waipapa Business area than delivery to central Kerikeri, in actual fact the costs will be less, as the Courier Post depot is in Waipapa, the businesses are grouped in a much smaller area than Kerikeri.

It is interesting to read your explanation that " clarification has been given to those previously involved to ensure correct information about our services is being provided".  EVERY single person that I have had contact with at NZ Post, aside from you, explains the rural charge is because packages need to be passed on to a rural postie, meaning two delivery people need to be paid.  

Your explanation simply seeks to obfuscate the issue which is that the Waiapapa business area is neither remote nor rural and nothing you have said justifies the $3.70 rural surcharge on every parcel delivered there. 

I'm going to introduce another problem.

From your website: https://www.nzpost.co.nz/personal/receiving-mail/rural-delivery








Yesterday my husband received a phone call from Courier Post informing him they didn't service the address on the parcel and could he supply another address. 

Which he did.






The parcel was delivered today with a NZ Post Express Delivery sticker on it - which is even more astounding because...


Even though Mill Lane is 5 minutes walk from the Kerikeri Post Shop in central Kerikeri.


For your information LY 083 973 554 NZ

The services we receive from NZ Post and Courier Post are abysmal - only ONE address that we use is actually rural (our home address), another receives no mail delivery and the third (a busy shopping centre) is subjected to arbitrary and unjustifiable so-called rural delivery charges.  

Head of Parcels, your replies so far have been unsatisfactory.

Regards,
Susan


Head of parcels, as promised, refused to continue communication and I actually have a life, so I left it. 



28 April 2019
Spotted on a Facebook page


I'd like to consider my agitation may have had something to do with the decision... 


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