Saturday, March 31, 2007

Australia Post Billpay

I have had an Australia Post PO Box for 15 years or so. I had an Australia Post mail redirection service for several years but since they failed consistently to redirect my mail I let that lapse because it was a waste of money.

The only online way to pay Australia Post for their PO Box service is to use Australia Post's own Post Billpay service. The only way.

I hate using this service. The only bill I want to pay with this service is the only bill I have to pay with this service. Australia Post's own goddamn bill.

As a result, every 12 months I have to get my password reset because I can't remember what it was 12 months before.

This year, the user id and password lookup function failed. I tried all 4 post codes that it could have been, different spellings of my mother's maiden name and different ways of writing my birth date. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that their system had actually forgotten about me. So, I created a new account, I registered my payment details (again) and I attempted to make my payment to Australia Post.

No can do. Error message: Australia Post requires payment by 31 March 2007.

I check the time: 22:30, 31 March 2007.


So, I find a complaints form and vent my spleen for the umpteenth time about having to use this useless service.

I have to say though, at least the complaints system worked.

I hadn't even finished writing up this blog post when I received a call from Australia Post's payment processing service offering to take my payment over the phone. Given the completely obnoxious nature of the rest of the service, that is nothing short of astonishing.

Postscript: On April 10, I received a final notice from Australia Post, dated April 1, demanding payment of the bill that I actually paid on March 31. D'oh.


Blogger The Localmalcontent said...

Happy April, Jon.

If it is any consolation, maybe you will win the Toyota Prius being given away on the Earth-hour website (provided you can sign up whilst having neither lights nor computer monitor on).
Sadly for the Earth however, 18 million cattle all farted at once when the Sydney lights were dimmed. Dammit!

1 April 2007 at 12:19  
Blogger The Localmalcontent said...

Is everything alright, mate? Haven't read anything by you in some time; I'm hoping that you are well.
I linked your site on my blogsite, because I enjoy reading your quintesential Australian viewpoint, and thought that readers of the Localmalcontent site (both of them- :D) would also your site.
Take care, post soon!

15 April 2007 at 10:16  
Blogger Jon Seymour said...

Yeah dude, I'm fine. Hope you are well too.

Silence from me in this forum usually means that I am immersed in more constructive things and thoughts.

The one who is not is still in my thoughts, but at a very distant point of a very eccentric orbit.

15 April 2007 at 14:06  
Anonymous The Other One said...

I have been using APO PostBillPay for the last several years.

Admittedly I haven't run into the race conditions which you found, probably because I pay my bills well before they're due, or I tell the site to pay the bill on the day it's due. Nevertheless, this speaks of sloppy programming. Perhaps they have a cutoff time (e.g. 6pm) and anything after that time is treated as having arrived the next day.

I use the site for our post office boxes and also for Sydney Water.

My main gripe with the site is that it doesn't allow me to specify automatic bill payment. I'd just like to set it and forget it. But no, that's not possible with PostBillPay. They have to email me saying "you have a new bill to pay" then I have to visit the site and click on "Pay" and then it pays the bill.

Given that Sydney Water won't just bill my credit card, an automatic payment through PostBillPay would be the next best thing. But no, I'm forced to login to their site every few months and click "Pay". They already have my bank account and CC details, so it's not like I need to tell them how to pay it.

7 May 2007 at 10:21  
Anonymous The Other One said...

Just to wrap up this whole story, Australia Post have emailed me saying they're cancelling the whole PostBillPay service due to lack of use.

I guess they expected to end up owning the market and didn't.

Unfortunately they are also going to delete all my stored bill data - I have to download it all before the site vanishes. Thanks a lot, Australia Post.

20 July 2007 at 18:18  
Blogger Jon Seymour said...

Really? A victory for sanity! Whoo hoo!


20 July 2007 at 19:26  
Blogger Jon Seymour said...

I've just checked out the Australia Post site and noticed that they have replaced it with a single page, single button credit card payment solution - no logon required.

That's excellent design! It's what they should have done in the first place. Indeed, if they had done that and allowed keen users to store a payment profile they might have actually found people who would use the damn thing because it was actually more convenient than the alternative.

I think it is quite amusing that they have decided to ditch the remainder of the UI having finally found a UI concept that might actually draw a reasonable amount of traffic in their direction.

20 July 2007 at 20:02  
Anonymous The Other One said...

One thing they did do right was permit a user to pay a _paper_ bill before converting them to electronic format.

I usually decline electronic invoices because there is no "standard format". One company sends plain text, another one PDF, and another one HTML email. I don't want to have to muck around converting HTML or plaintext into PDF - and PDF's not machine-readable anyway (i.e. if I wanted to automatically process the payment).

At least with paper I can scan it and file it away for tax purposes.

21 July 2007 at 12:57  

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