New Zealand Post

I’m not really surprised

I just sent a envelope Air-Post to France, containing a tiny circuit board. It was just thick enough that it wouldn’t go through the letter guide, due to a bit of bubble wrap inside. I sent a $9 item weighting a few grams, charged $10 shipping and payed NZ Post $12.90.

Because it’s not really a letter, they have to print a giant postage sticker that the teller has to attach to the envelope which already has the delivery address printed right in the middle.

I don’t really mind because it’s another customer. But it does highlight how stupid NZ Post is and how little they value this type of business. NZ Post must win some sort or achievement award for being one of the least efficiently managed and run companies in New Zealand.

Being big business, I guess nobody feels responsible; a growing problem. It’s always someone elses problem, or needs a command decision from mythical managers at the top of the building. Maybe the maximum letter thickness is too small. Does it make more money by allowing higher charges for more letters, or does it drive customers away? Maybe it’s not a “big business” decision so it gets left.

It’s probably going to get worse as fewer people use NZ Post. It would only need the couriers to get together and offer a export mailing service for anything bigger than a “NZ Post letter” and they’d be screwed. Well, only until they did something to compete and started a destructive price war.

Maybe NZ Post is no longer considered critical infrastructure with the rise of email and internal couriers. What is the bulk of export mail; Christmas cards, postcards and the occasional letter to granny in some far off land. What will NZ Post do when there is not enough small mail to justify keeping the machines going. If you want to actually send anything, it will have to go by courier. It’s just as well we are quickly moving to being a country that only imports 🙂

Update – July 2014

NZ Post have made some changes – not for the better IMO.

The lowest cost international shipping is now International-Air for small parcels. It doesn’t really matter what they call it, and I guess it makes sense that the bulk of mail goes by air. It seems as if there has also been a price increase; although they keep it all complicated enough that you can’t really tell.

There is no tracking on International-Air parcel as standard and no option to add it. Courier and Express are the only tracked options at a much higher cost.

I recall that all NZ-Post labels and receipts used to include a tracking type ID number. Even if not tracked, it was still an ID. My latest receipts only have a transaction code. I will see what the actual package label has on it next time out.

IMO, International-Air parcel  should include tracking as standard. I would expect that once the system was in place the scanners and computers would take care of it. You can buy a $10 item out of Asia which includes free shipping and can be tracked, at least through major hubs.

My main problem is that I want to be able to export small packages weighing less than 1Kg at a reasonable price and have some idea of where they are along the way; at least be able to provide the customer with a tracking number that their local post system may be able to use.

Update – July 2014

NZ Post international-air labelI got a photo of a International-Air post label at the post shop.

Air-mail is now the lowest cost overseas small parcel shipping and no tracking. Tracking is not even an option. If air-post is reliable, and it generally is, then tracking is probably not needed. Except, that many customers like to receive a tracking or package ID number.

The air-post label now only has a transaction number printed on it. Probably nothing that the delivery postal service could use to ID or track the package. IMO they should print a tracking bar-code or number on the label even if it’s not used by NZ Post. This label is really just a big stamp.

According to NZ-Post, for tracking we must use Courier or Express. There are a few significant problems with this for small low value packages.

  1. Cost: 4 to 6 times the cost of International-Air post.
  2. The amount of paperwork and forms required to be filled in for each package.
  3. The size of the package needed to attack all the paperwork.

I’m sure the Express/Courier forms were designed by a committee or half blind chip monks.

As a small item exporter, it’s difficult to compete on price with Asia, who are now mostly offering free shipping. They build the shipping cost into the product price, but their shipping is cheaper so it has less effect.

Why is our export mail shipping so expensive? Is it because NZ post have to cover the cost of incoming mail delivery out of outgoing mail charges? If there are 50 or more incoming for each outgoing item, then this is obviously not sustainable. What happens when the few remaining small item exporters give up?


  1. If a package is too small and not a letter, it’s more likely to go missing.
  2. If a package it large than it needs to be (to attach paperwork), it takes up more space and costs more to ship.

Possible Alternatives – just ideas

  1. What if a courier company, or several courier companies together, set up a service to ship packages overseas and then post them. They could receive small parcels up to a maximum size/weight/value each, keep them for a few days until they have enough to go, bulk- ship them to a post friendly country and put them into the postal system there. It would be up to the sender to label them for post and get them to the courier depot or a collection agent. In theory this should be cheaper than NZ Post as the courier is not using outgoing mail pricing to subsidize incoming mail deliveries.
  2. If NZ Post is using outgoing pricing to cover incoming deliveries, and we are importing far more than we are exporting, maybe they should start charging for import deliveries. If I had to pick up my incoming post from a Post-Shop or agent and pay $2 per item, I wouldn’t mind if it meant we could compete on postage prices and service with other exporting countries.


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