Australia Post’s parcel service has been thrown into chaos after the shipping and tracking service failed on Monday.
Small business customers were met with an error message when trying to log into the eParcel service on Monday as the nationwide fault brought warehouse staff and small business owners to a complete standstill.
It is not known whether Australia Post has experienced a technical error or a cyber security incident, or whether there has been a security breach. The issue had still not been rectified by 10pm Monday night.
Retailers told MySmallBusiness they were greeted with an error message when logging into their eParcel accounts around 12.30pm yesterday. This prevented them from sending orders via the eParcel service for the entire day. Some online retailers are concerned about losing repeat business after not being able to fulfil express and next day post orders.
The outage prevented online retailer Ben Porter from fulfilling 62 orders on Monday. The founder of online cufflinks store Cuffed says he spent hours yesterday trying to log into the Australia Post system.
“I kept getting the error message when I tried to print labels. I just hate letting customers down, with some customers paying for express postage, but they won’t be getting it.”
The Sydneysider, who quit his job to focus solely on his small business three years ago, ships mostly within Australia.
Porter was unable to get any response from Australia Post, which he says is frustrating as a regular customer.
“Australia Post should be getting in touch with their customers so that we can communicate with ours. I just hope this isn’t an indication of what we can expect at the busy Christmas period.”
An Australia Post spokesman confirmed on Monday that the cause of the national outage is under investigation, but would not be drawn on a reason for the fault nor when it would be fixed.
The eParcel service enables Australia Post customers to log onto the system, create a customer label and barcode and print out a shipping label.
Other parts of the Australia Post business have also been impacted by the fault, with the company posting this message on its website on Monday afternoon:
“We’re currently experiencing technical issues that may impact customers’ ability to access particular services, including Bulk Mail Lodgement, Load&Go cards, PO Boxes and Western Union money transfers. We are working to resolve this as quickly as possible and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Customers vented on the Australia Post’s Facebook page, with many of the complaints focused on the company’s lack of communication. The last company update was posted to Facebook about 2.5 hours after the national outage, with no updates posted since. The company still hadn’t posted anything about the eParcel outage on its website late Monday night.
This isn’t the first time, according to the owner of online retailer Gifted Memories, Jane Browning. .
She urged Australia Post to send regular updates via email or SMS message during outages.
“It really isn’t good enough, and I know most business owners would agree.”
Fellow online retailer Wes Blundy was also left without answers yesterday, saying he was unable to fulfil about half of his 200 orders yesterday. Calls to Australia Post went unanswered.
While the founder of online bra store, Curvy, accepts that technological issues are all part of running a business, as a small business customer, he feels let down by the lack of communication.
“Most businesses reliant on technology have a status page to update customers in these scenarios, but I’ve been left in the dark. Your electricity provider will let you provide an update every 30 minutes or so if there’s an outage, or let you know when they expect a resolution. To not get an update from such a major service provider is surprising and extremely frustrating.”
Porter agreed, acknowledging that technology can be tricky for businesses of all sizes.
“But when the communication is also broken down on a service you rely on to run your business, it’s really disappointing. It would be very easy for Australia Post to provide regular updates so that we can tell our customers.”
Australia Post posted on its own site that it expected intermittent interruptions to API Authentication over the weekend for scheduled maintenance, but posted that this had been completed on Sunday.
A call to an Australia Post office confirmed the system had been down nationally since about lunchtime Monday. “They (Australia Post head office) can’t tell us what’s happening, other than they’re working on it. If it’s down for us, it’s definitely down for all post offices. We just recommend that customers keep trying,” he told Fairfax Media.
While the fault was frustrating, online retailers were still able to send items in satchels or the regular mail service. Whether or not Australia Post will provide compensation for the disruption is unknown.
An Australia Post spokesman said the company “will endeavour to keep customers updated on our social channels and the company website”.
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