Sarah Whyte Consumer affairs reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald
The prices of prepaid Australia Post packages have been raised by up to 30 per cent to take advantage of the online shopping boom.
For the first time, most of Australia Post’s revenue comes from parcels instead of letters, and 70 per cent of parcels are from online transactions.
The rises, which come into effect on Monday, also mean the cost of getting a signature on delivery, a requirement for most online sellers, almost triples from $1 to $2.95.
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Online retailers say the changes are a ”direct hit” on their businesses and they have no option but to charge customers more.
Australia Post defends the increases, saying it is ”operating in a challenging business environment with increasing external costs”.
Jackie Harper of Dubbo, who sells cloth nappies online, said she would now have to pay more than $11 every time she sent a package. Last week it was about $7.
”These prices are passed on to the customers and need to be paid each time an order is sent,” Ms Harper said.
Many online business owners say they were told of the increase only last week and have had no time to adjust their prices. Others are concerned their customers will go to more attractive sites overseas.
Until Monday, it was cheaper for online sellers to use Australia Post satchels and the signature service than their own packaging and stamps.
More than 1000 online retailers have signed a petition in the past two days to protest against the changes.
In one year the value of the online retail market has grown by $2 billion. It is now worth $13.1 billion, according to figures from the National Australia Bank.
Australia Post is only too aware of this, having paid $408 million to Qantas in October for the remaining 50 per cent of freight provider StarTrack.