Man left with $2500 legal bill after deed to house lost in Australia Post bungle
A Victorian man says he has spent months dealing with an Australia Post "nightmare" that began with a mystery signature and ended with him being forced to foot a $2500 legal bill.
At stake was an important document lost in the mail – the deed to the Geelong home of Colin Chapman and his wife.
When the couple paid off their mortgage in November last year, Chapman said he asked staff at the Commonwealth Bank if he could come and personally collect the certificate of title for the property when it was ready.
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"I was told, 'No, we have to send it to you by registered post,'" Chapman said.
Chapman told 9news.com.au he was following the tracking information closely on the day the deed was due to arrive at their home.
After getting to work in the morning, Chapman said he checked the tracking number and saw it had already been marked as delivered.
"I called my wife, who was at home, and asked her if she had received it. She told me nothing had come," he said.
Puzzled, Chapman said he immediately went down to the local post office to ask what had happened.
That's when things grew even more strange.
Chapman said he was shown a copy of the delivery signature supposedly signed by his wife at 8.30am that morning.
"I looked at it and said, 'That's not my wife's signature'," Chapman said.
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Chapman said both he and his wife were at home at the time the delivery was supposedly made – but neither heard a knock on the door.
The gate at the front of their property was also locked, making it impossible for the delivery driver to enter, he said.
"We weren't expecting it (the delivery) to come that early and the gate was still locked at 8.30am."
What followed, Chapman said, was five frustrating and stressful weeks dealing with Australia Post's customer service department.
"What I had to go through with Australia Post was just a complete nightmare," he said.
"It took them three-and-a-half weeks just to get them to admit it was lost in transit.
"They kept trying to say that it was delivered, that my wife had signed for it, and that the driver had dropped a 'pin' outside our house.
"Well, my wife didn't sign for it – but the question is, who did?"
"I lost sleep, it was so stressful. I reckon I sent about 60 to 70 emails, and spent 100 hours of my time to get an answer out of them."
Australia Post eventually acknowledged Chapman's delivery had been lost, but there was still the problem of the missing deed.
Chapman said his solicitor advised him a new deed would need to be applied for, along with a supporting affidavit from Australia Post to confirm the first certificate of title was lost in transit.
All up, Chapman estimated he spent about $2500 on legal fees to get a digital certificate of title issued, which he finally received in January. The deed lost in the mail was a paper version.
Chapman said Australia Post had offered just $100 in compensation after his ordeal – but added his dissatisfaction was not just about the money he had lost.
"Australia Post need to be held accountable for all of the stress they have caused us. They have pushed us pillar to post and it seems like all they are concerned with is protecting their brand."
An Australia Post spokesperson said the service was sorry for Chapman's experience.
"Australia Post sincerely apologises to the customer for this issue," the spokesperson said in a statement to 9news.com.au.
"Our processing and delivery teams work hard to deliver every item with care, and the vast majority of items make it to their destination safely. In this instance, unfortunately the item has been lost. We have reached out to the customer to offer compensation."
Chapman's experience with Australia Post comes just weeks after the Federal Government announced it was conducting a sweeping review of Australia Post and the services it provides.
At question is whether Australia Post's unprofitable letter delivery service should be scaled back to allow more focus on its fast-growing parcel service instead.
While Australia Post is entirely government-owned, it is also self funded. It is under obligation to deliver letters to Australian homes five days a week and operate post offices close to homes.
Contact reporter Emily McPherson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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