Ask LH: How Can I Make Sure Packages Actually Get Delivered?

Hey Lifehacker, How can I stop couriers and Australia Post from falsely marking packages as “Attempted Delivery” and leaving a card to collect from the Post Office, even though someone was available to receive the delivery? It seems like the delivery drivers aren’t even bothering to ring a doorbell because it takes longer than just leaving the card, but their actions then waste my time and the post-office staff time too. How can I prevent this selfish behaviour? Thanks, Post Off

Dear PO,

Unfortunately, this seems to be an annoyance of epidemic proportions that is affecting neighborhoods all around the country. Back in my days as a freelance reviewer, I would regularly receive “attempted delivery” cards despite being home all day long. With multiple deadlines mounting, an unnecessary trip to the post office is the last thing I needed. Tch, eh?

Here’s what Australia Post has to say on the issue:

In some cases we may not be able to complete delivery of an item, including: 

  • if no one was home to receive it
  • if it didn’t fit in your mailbox and it was either not suitable to safely leave at your address or was a rural mailbox delivery where the driver is not allowed to get out of their car
  • if special delivery instructions could not be completed or if they indicated we should not leave the parcel.
    In these instances you may receive a card in your mailbox or under your door letting you know which Australia Post retail outlet you can collect your item from.

Curiously, “the postman could’t be arsed” does not appear among the litany of excuses. Go figure.

If you want to go on the warpath, one solution would be to rig up an IP security camera on your front porch to catch the non-delivery “attempt” in the act. You can then send the evidence to Australia Post and demand that its postal workers lift their game. Australia Post aims to resolve most complaints within 10 working days, so you should receive a response. If you go down this route, be sure to follow the relevant surveillance/privacy laws that relate to your state. You can find an overview of rules here.

Alternatively, you could invest in a parcel locker service such as the My Parcel Box Vault and Pakman Parcel Delivery Box. These are ruggedised outdoor security lockers designed for parcel delivery. Unlike a PO box, they don’t require you to travel to an offsite location and can log deliveries electronically, which negates the need for a physical signature.

On the downside, parcel lockers aren’t particularly cheap with prices starting at around $200. Some also require a weekly “service fee” which can add up to $50 per year. Plus, you’ll still need to put your faith in postal workers to actually use the device properly. Can you really trust them to use an electronic security locker when something as simple as a doorbell appears to give them trouble?

One other possibility is to use your work address. You may find this has a higher success rate; especially if your workplace regularly receives postal deliveries. If you’re in a relatively small business, you can ask the boss directly. In larger organisations, check existing HR documents or ask your manager. If you decide to give this a go, it’s definitely a good idea to activate delivery tracking on orders. This will ensure you can see when the item is due and that it’s signed for when it arrives, which should cut down on parcels mysteriously disappearing between the mail system and your desk.

If any readers have additional suggestions of their own (or just want to vent about crap postal delivery in their area), let PO know in the comments section below!


Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].


45 responses to “Ask LH: How Can I Make Sure Packages Actually Get Delivered?”