Five Australia Post parcel delivery alternatives

Sendle founder James Chin Moody. Photo: Eddie Jim
Sendle founder James Chin Moody. Photo: Eddie Jim
Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour wants Australians to pay up if they're late to collect parcels. Photo: Jesse Marlow

Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour wants Australians to pay up if they're late to collect parcels. Photo: Jesse Marlow

Australia Post's decision to start charging people who don't pick up their parcels on time has not gone down well with its customers.

There has been outrage on Twitter at posties' lack of scruples in doing "drop and runs" with parcel delivery cards, leaving customers with no choice but to front up to a post office outlet and wait in line, often during business hours.

Some have questioned the legality of Australia Post entering into a contract with the parcel receiver – who, after all, may be receiving an unannounced gift – and are comparing it to ransom.

The decision potentially spells bad news for small businesses concerned about losing customers who don't want a $9 bill on top of their online purchases.

Thankfully, there is a handful of disrupters muscling in on Australia Post's parcel delivery cash cow.

Many of these start-ups piggy-back off courier companies in innovative ways. Some even offer cheaper rates than Australia Post, with door-to-door delivery in a shorter time.

They'll also work for consumers who just want to send a pair of knitted socks to their grandson without making him pay for them.

We checked out what it would cost to use some of these alternative services to send a 1kg parcel, 20cm x 20cm x 20cm, from the offices of The Age in Docklands, Melbourne to The Sydney Morning Herald in Pyrmont.

Keep in mind these are consumer prices and for central locations. Some services will offer cheaper options for bulk orders, or vary in cost-effectiveness for longer journeys. Some won't deliver to remote areas while Australia Post will.

Australia Post - $13.95

Our benchmark comparison – regular Australia Post parcel delivery – would take four business days and cost $13.95 to deliver our imaginary parcel from Melbourne to Sydney, using our own packaging.

If the recipient misses the delivery, they'll need to go to their nearest post office during business hours and collect the parcel within five days. After six days, they'll be charged $3. After 10 days they'll be charged $6, and after 15 days, it's $9. After 30 days, the parcel will be returned to sender.

Sendle - $10.75

To use a tiring cliche, Sendle could be described as the "Uber of couriers" – a delivery company that owns no vans*. It leverages partner courier companies' spare capacity to make small-order deliveries at a fraction of the price.

Our imaginary parcel delivery would cost just $10.75, door to door. Sendle does not deliver to remote locations.

If the receiver misses the parcel, they'll get one free re-delivery on a day that suits them, or they can opt to pick it up from a nearby collection point.

Here's where it gets ambiguous, because Sendle uses multiple courier companies, including Fastway Couriers and Couriers Please. That means collection points may vary, as may each courier's rules on how long they hold a parcel before returning it to sender.

Sendle is carbon neutral.

WizMe - $10.69

WizMe claims it's "always cheaper and much quicker than Parcel Post". For our job at hand it offered a national flat rate of $10.69 plus a small cost of a dollar or less for a box.

If they miss the parcel, the receiver has five working days to nominate a re-delivery day or to pick it up from a nearby newsagency. There are around 450 participating outlets nationwide. They'll have seven days to pick it up after that. And they'll be contacted by email and phone in the interim, WizMe says.

The service also offers parcel lockers called 'PopStations' – similar to Australia Post's parcel lockers – in partnership with CouriersPlease.

Officeworks Mailman - $12.00

The ubiquitous office supplies giant delivers parcels through Fastway Couriers. It's cheaper than Fastway, but you'll need to go to an Officeworks store in person to drop the package off.

Officeworks quoted us $12.00 and one to two business days for the Melbourne to Sydney delivery.

Uncollected parcels are returned to sender after seven days, as per Fastway's terms and conditions.

E-Go - $13.75

e-go.com.au just undercuts Australia Post's price at $13.75, but it offers door-to-door, overnight service.

Generous discounts apply for repeat users, or if the sender and receiver drop off or collect at a depot.

Depots are scarce compared to some other services – around 100 nationwide – but the receiver can elect for their parcel to be re-delivered on a suitable day if they miss the postie the first time around.

There's a generous grace period of 28 days to hold a parcel free of charge at a depot before returning it to sender.

ParcelConnect - 13.95

A subsidiary of Fastway Couriers, ParcelConnect said it could deliver our parcel for the same price as Australia Post, $13.95. However, unlike Australia Post this includes door-to-door delivery, and weekend and out-of-hours pick-up from collection points.

If the recipient isn't home they'll have the option to get the parcel re-delivered on a day that suits them, or they can pick it up from the nearest collection point.

Collection points are few and far between in rural and non-central areas. Parcels are returned to sender after seven days at a depot.

This story Five Australia Post parcel delivery alternatives first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.