Australia Post ‘loses’ woman’s $55k cheque
A MELBOURNE woman was left feeling physically sick from stress after an Australia Post bungle saw her inheritance money vanish for six agonising weeks.
Canadian-born Claudia Ruhland was expecting a registered letter containing $55,000 in bank drafts that was mailed from her home country with tracking on December 19, 2017.
It was due to arrive within ten days - but the mother of two feared the worst when it failed to show up.
The money was her inheritance which was sent to her after a three-year court battle, and the mother of two said the strain had taken a toll on her health.
"The stress of the waiting alone was unbearable and I feared the worst, that the bank drafts had been stolen," she said.
"My Canadian lawyer advised that if this was the case, there was nothing they could do and we would have to accept the loss.
"I was devastated and could not believe this could have happened."
Ms Ruhland said the money had been sent in the form of bank drafts instead of an electronic transfer as she had been advised this was the best option.
But after receiving a tracking letter stating the letter had arrived in Australia on December 30, the trail went cold.
On January 19, Ms Ruhland opened investigations with both Canada Post and Australia Post, but days went by without hearing a word about her money.
Finally, on February 2, Ms Ruhland contacted Australia Post again and was told the letter had been located after a 46-day mystery absence - in Lake Grace, Western Australia.
She was told the letter had somehow ended up in WA and had been "bouncing back and forth" between the mail sorting centre in Perth and the Lake Grace post office for weeks on end.
She was so overwhelmed to hear the letter had been found she burst into tears while speaking with an Australia Post employee over the phone.
But Ms Ruhland is still not sure what caused the letter to be sent to Lake Grace in the first place, let alone why it kept being incorrectly sorted and returned to the WA post office again and again.
An employee at the Lake Grace post office said she had sent it in the express mail bag in the hope the error would be sighted by a human employee instead of a sorting machine and sent to Frankston.
Ms Ruhland asked the woman to instead place the letter in a separate overnight express envelope, write her address clearly on the front, remove the tracking sticker, then text or email the tracking number to her once it was re-posted to Victoria.
Finally, after a torturous wait, the letter and cheque arrived on February 8.
Ms Ruhland said she was speaking out to raise awareness and encourage Australia Post to investigate the incident thoroughly to protect other customers.
"I cannot believe the continuous errors and bungles that occurred with this single valuable item. I am so disappointed with Australia Post and how this was handled," she said.
"It wasn't the fault of actual staff - clearly, it was caused by a mechanical glitch - but at some point you have to rise above what is procedure and use some common sense.
"The Australia Post technical system is clearly flawed as the letter did not reach its destination in a reasonable amount of time and instead simply went around in circles. It wasn't until I, the recipient, intervened that a sensible resolution was implemented."
Ms Ruhland said the ordeal had caused "tremendous and unnecessary stress" and that she had continuously been left in the dark despite Australia Post having her address and contact details on hand.
An Australia Post spokeswoman said customers with lost mail were encouraged to log an inquiry at auspost.com.au.
"Australia Post takes great pride in the efficient delivery of mail, with the vast majority - over 98 per cent - arriving safely and on time," the spokeswoman said.
"Obviously something has gone wrong here.
"We have contacted the customer and will investigate this further."