Sunday, 9 May 2010

fiddler in the post: a serious violation of trust

In the developed world we entrust much to others. Over centuries we have built up a system of agencies which provide services and act for us which works only because they are trusted by the community.

The postal system is exactly one such thing. In this blog article I examine how what appears to be just rough postal handling is perhaps a disguise for the opening and pilfering of contents of my packages. The evidence is quite compelling. Naturally I am also taking this up with Australia Post and I will post updates of this as they come to hand. This blog post also serves for me to document my experiences while the memory is fresh and I am certain of what I found.

When I left Finland I posted back to my home many boxes of stuff, as a quick cost analysis showed that without "connections" in shipping it was economic (if still expensive) to use the postal system.

I packed all items well, wrapping most extensively in bubble wrap and some in camping mattress foam then bubble wrap.

When the first of my boxes arrived I was quite shocked to see how badly they had traveled. For example:


I was quite saddened that my boxes were carried so badly and at the same time worried about what else (more fragile) would be destroyed (such as our wedding champagne flutes, which were indeed destroyed).

Of course these boxes have come an uncertain route from Finland to Australia, so I could not have been certain as to exactly where the rough handling happened, but clearly this box was patched up by Australia Post.

I was at first thinking that some Aust Post worker had found the box gaping or torn and had patched it for me ... for which I was grateful.

However as I unpacked one of the more beaten examples I discovered this:

If you can't for some reason watch that video, I have found another postal item packed inside my item.

and here is that postal item in a little more detail.


Exactly how does an item posted from Finland back in early April end up containing an item that was posted in Ipswich Auatralia in late April?

Its also interesting that the other persons package was also opened and did not contain his contents (it contained some other items).

So at this point we have:
  • at least this package of mine opened unofficially and searched as well as having items it contained destroyed (and perhaps something missing, we are still assessing this)
  • another party's postal item, from Ipswich, opened unofficially and his items stolen
  • the items of yet another (third) persons materials poked into the tube of the above mentioned party from Ipswich.
Its interesting to note that the postal date on that item would seem to be the 28th of April and this box was made available to me at my post box on the 8th of May. So clearly at least that item (if not the box) had been sitting around in a postal center (while the fiddler got a chance to fiddle in private) since around then.

The sender of the postal tube tells me he sent this from Ipswich and the destination was Nerang.

So now I'm quite confident that the damage occurred in Australia. In fact some of the barcodes placed on the item for tracking in Australia (at point of entry in Melbourne) were so scuffed and abraded that the postal worker at my post office was unable to read them with his bar code scanner. As all of the boxes are like this its further evidence that the bashing took place in Australia.

However I suspect strongly that the damage was deliberate, done to mask what would be obvious signs of intrusion and searching on otherwise well presented boxes. I know that I packed things in these boxes carefully and used the shapes of objects to make a nice tight jigsaw puzzle holding the interior together.

This also allows a bit of cross referencing of the likely points of meeting of the two items and as I'm in Brisbane, it must be around this area where the fiddler is.

After the shock of this revaluation I began examining my other boxes more carefully. This box (which I had re-sealed to allow me to carry it)


With the light of the above revelations I noticed that this box shows a very tidy hand hole in the box to allow someone to grope around inside the box.

There is an interesting "fold" in the box there, indicating its been dropped heavily on that end. I don't believe this hole is anything other than man made.

Now sadly since this occurrence I've been doing some Google searching and I find that this is not a rare or unique occurrence.

Further (unlike one cockheads reply to this youtube post) this is neither something we should learn to live with or something we should tolerate. It is infact a criminal offense with a 5 year jail term.

Compared to the postal service of Finland the Australia post service is pathetic. In Finland any damage or resealing is identified on the post item and even where it happened is notice. They seem to offer a trustworthy and honest service.

Now Australians would be quick to ridicule third world ex-soviet and developing countries as being exactly the sort of places you would not want to send anything by post which was valuable or delicate because "you could be sure it will be pilfered" along the way.

Well it is seeming to me that Australia is now falling into that category. A quick Google on this topic will show many many more issues.

Folks, this is rapidly heading to be something which I feel warrants as much of an enquiry as the corruption in the Police has warranted.

More to follow...


GummieBear said...

I strongly feel your pain. As someone who sells on eBay regularly, lost items are all too often. Unfortunately not much can be done about it. At least Canada Post is good with their insurance policy and refunded most of the lost items to the insured value.

I hope your blog post will make an impact so that a positive outcome will result to reduce this kind of incidents from happening.

Aleks B said...


What anything of value taken from the box? OR was someone just 'looking'

Noons said...

Definitely worth pursuing.
It seems to be a regional thing, with some post offices suffering more from this than others.
The worry is of course that whatever mechanism was used before to prevent this sort of thing from happening, is not working now; this is becoming more and more common.
So far, we've been lucky around here with only the odd delay. But it doesn't mean it won't happen in future!

Anonymous said...

ok if it has come from Finland anything may of happened in its journey. Why you would send wine flutes in that fashion has me totally confused did you really think that nothing would happen to them in transit??????? As for the hole it may of happened in a number of ways and the repairs seem to be legitimate from the Aussie post end. As for the tube you will find that some customers actually remove items from them and leave them at the post office which may explain that. but over all Australia Post is one of the world leaders in parcel and mail delivery unfortunately this does happen. and as for the cases of it happening that you found on google........well of course you will find out when something has gone wrong but how about all the satisfied customers???????? they don't seem to pop up as they dont have anything to complain about!!!! Please don't take this as me having a shot at you just stating the obvious! what has happened could of occured anywhere on your parcels travels and when they come into the country customs actually screen every parcel and they do have the right to open them if they register on the banned substance or suspicious item list. so i think you may want to check what items are missing and cross refer them to the banned list!!!!!!! Just don't lay the blame on Post without having all the facts first.

obakesan said...

Dear Anonymous

Firstly, you sound like a postal worker defending the family.

Secondly, take a good long think about the logic of how a postal tube from another customer (whom I have contacted by phone and whom says the tube never reached its destination) could get into my box and where that may be... it has no logical place except within the mail sorting or transport of Australia Post.

sorry sunshine, but its looking very bad.

Aleks ... sofar it seems nothing is missing, so they appeared to be just looking ... with the wrong things stuffed back in it could be that they were disturbed in the act and had to cover up fast.

Ohh and Anon

the flutes were in a steel box, wrapped in multi layers of bubble wrap, taped and packed with the Z shaped foam peanuts

the box was in a central location packed around clothes yet still it had been battered.

I expected rough handling, but I got more than I bargained for.

sorry mate, but AustPost contractors have a bad reputation and they seem to deserve it

Nothing in my packages was "banned" and before you start ranting and frothing at the mouth at me with multipls !!! yellings please note I did not rant in my post.

Also worth addressing is if postal workers know just how much something is going to be bashed perhaps they could do more to show their clients ... not everyone who posts things is as experienced as others. Perhaps education would be good rather than saying useless (and quite relative) stuff like "pack it well" ... what is well?

I swear if some people saw how stuff was treated by the post they would never send anything.

Lastly Anon I feel required to ask you to go work in another country for a while ... I'm expecting you have not and from the position of being just a Flag Waving Aussie leap to defend Aust Post as being the best.

Go work in Finland and see how much better they run it over there.

Its an attitude which is prevalent in Australia. We look to England or Italy or China and pat our selves on the back as being the best.

Ignorance is bliss my friend ... and since we appear to be going downhill I'd suggest that this bliss will prevent us from putting the brakes on the situation till way too late.

obakesan said...

PS Dear anon ...

>country customs actually screen every
>parcel and they do have the right to
>open them if they register on the banned
>substance or suspicious item list. so i
>think you may want to check what items
>are missing and cross refer them to the
>banned list!!!!!!!

they also (as I understood it) have the obligation to state that they have done this ... in writing.

Perhaps you're not a postal worker after all ... you don't seem to know a real lot about it.

You are right however that people seldom publish the good stories, but if you're expecting to get patted on the back for every correctly delivered letter, well mate perhaps you should think we expect you to do your job as much as everyone expects me to do my job properly too.

Anonymous said...

I have, unfortunately, also had some very strange experiences with Australian Post. Items bought on eBay have not arrived and important letters requiring to be signed at delivery didn't reach me. One time my postie left a card in my mail box with both the First Notice and the Last Notice boxes ticked! When I went to the post office to collect it, it turned out the letter had been there for a couple of weeks already. Since I wasn't working at the time and was at home every day at the time mail was delivered, I know for sure the postie didn't even try to deliver this particular letter.

I have also gotten parcels that have been opened in customs; they were very well marked with stickers and a notification inside the parcel informing about the opening.

I have 30+ years of experience with Finnish Post, and not once have things like these happened to me in Finland. However during the 8 months I have been living in Australia now, these things have happened to me several times.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to mention that i have also had items inspected by customs and both times it was clearly marked with what happened.

This stuff up is clearly from someone in the south east Queensland mail exchange, i would suggest you file a complaint, as they most likely have a staff member pilfering goods.

Anonymous said...

ok you have me there if it wasn't stated that your parcel was opened you do have a case. As for your packaging i am now aware that you have done all you can to ensure their safe arrival. Also i must say yes to the fact i am a Post employee and i feel for you in the fact that something so special to you has been damaged and whilst being able to be replaced doesn't hold the same sentimental value. I can't speak for all employees of the company but i can let you know that there are far more of us that take pride in the place and customers items that are being sent. It is an ever growing concern that items are being damaged and the company is forever trying to cut down on these things happening. When the damage has occured to the items within the package i am unsure of but the tube destined for another person is a concern which i feel should be taken up with the postal delivery centre from which your parcel was delivered from. Once again from an empolyee that takes pride in the job he does i can only appologize to youabout what has happened but unfortunately can't do anything about. And yes i agree that some of the contractors are suspect at best but most take what they do seriously. Please don't take my prior post as someone trying to defend just someone trying to get all the facts before making an oppinion.

obakesan said...

Dear Anon (the postal worker)

thanks for your reply. You may notice throughout my blog that I take a detailed and reasoned approach to what I do and what I write about. However I fully understand that is not the case with 90% of the "general public".

The reason I take seriously this situation is that I think you will find that (for historical reasons) postal workers are regarded highly by our "community"; in that the courts and the police will take their word as witnesses with greater regard than an "ordinary" citizen.

It is precisely because postal workers must be of trusted character that they get this privileged bestowed upon them.

If one apple in the barrel is rotten then every other apple should be vigilant in observing and working towards weeding that out. Turning a blind eye to it is accepting it and tantamount to agreement with it.

Anonymous said...

I have spoken to a few higher ranking staff from within the facility at which i am based and they also agree that this is an issue of which should be taken up and brought to the attention of the Delivery Centre from which your parcel was distributed from as the tube for another customer being in your parcel is a concern. Once again i can only sympathize with you over what has occured as it is unfortunately an area from which i in my daily duties have no control over. But also it is an issue that the company needs to be made aware of so as they can monitor the contractors and also customer satisfaction. I hope that any of my words have been helpful in anyway and you feel that you have not spoken about this in vane. I hope further experiences with Australia Post are more pleasant and maybe you could post something about a more pleasant experience.

Kindest Regards

Anon (the Postal Worker)

Anonymous said...

P.S there are a few rotten apples but they are weeded out and removed and trust me the rest of us wouldn't be employed if it wasn't for a rigorous screening process. We are all police checked prior to being allowed on site (Postal Employees) unsure about contractors.

obakesan said...

Dear Anon *(the PW)

Thanks for your diligence on this. Rest assured that the matter is already in the hands of AustPost (within a day or two of writing actually) and I believe is being investigated.

I will be publishing the outcomes of this but not the private details such as the investigation numbers or names of people. I am personally a big believer in open and transparent in the processes of government. Further I believe in sending positive feedback where warranted as well (see my post on Finnair).