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Bundy man takes on Australia Post over damaged violin

A VIOLIN that gave great pleasure to a Bundaberg's man's wife - who continued to play while gravely ill - was broken just months after her death by Australia Post.

Alan Corbett took out extra insurance cover with the post office when he sent the craftsman-made violin to a Brisbane valuer and violin maker.

As to his wife's wishes, Mr Corbett, a Moore Park Beach resident, intended for the violin to find another good home with a musician or someone learning to play.

His wife had owned the violin since 1999 - paying more than $3000 after it was crafted by a Blue Mountains instrument maker.

Posting it at the Bundaberg Post Office, Mr Corbett said it was in its hard case and packaged by "10m of protective bubble wrap".

He did it this way after he first got advice from post office staff.

"Two days later the valuer said it was received but had been badly damaged in transit," Mr Corbett said.

"Then when I tried to claim my insurance Australia Post rejected it out of hand, saying it was not adequately or appropriately packaged. But what does that mean?"

Damage included a soundpost crack on the front of the violin and another crack from the bottom of the treble sound hole going towards the endpin.


The violin was insured for $3000 under Australia Post's Extra Cover Insurance. But Mr Corbett believes its real value was $10,000-$12,000.

As he diligently persisted in chasing up his insurance, Mr Corbett was astounded to be told by an official that packages using Australia Post must be able to survive a 1m fall onto the ground without being damaged.

And they must packaged to withstand other parcels weighing up to 22kg being dropped on to them from the same height.

"They don't tell you that anywhere," Mr Corbett said.

"This information was not made available to me by staff at the time I posted the instrument nor was I advised about these expectations when I took out the insurance.

Frustrated, annoyed and dissatisfied at having his claim so quickly rejected, Mr Corbett complained to the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

As a result of its intervention, Australia Post finally paid out the insurance in September.

Agreeing to pay the $3000, and apologising for any stress caused, an Australia Post officer informed Mr Corbett that the first damage report advised his violin was not packaged correctly.

But postal staff in a subsequent inquiry did recall seeing the package and advised it had been sufficiently packaged.

Mr Corbett said he wanted to warn others about the reality that despite paying for insurance ,your valuable parcel may not be covered.

"What annoyed me was there was no sense of responsibility being taken and the shoddy way the matter was treated," he said.

"There must be lots and lots of claims rejected on the fact they were not adequately packaged.

"Australia Post must be more transparent, upfront with its parcel terms and conditions."

He said they should be available at every post office, not online where for many they are not easy to access.


Weary about his dealings with Australia Post over his wife's broken violin, Alan Corbett made a Freedom of Information request concerning its Extra Cover parcel insurance.

It was refused.

Australia Post Freedom of Information officer Anna Oliver said access was exempt under the FOI Act and cited commercially valuable information essential to the profitability and viability of its parcel business.

She said its competitors may use the information to undermine its parcel business.

Mr Corbett's questions included:

  • How many parcel damage claims since November 2015 had been made by customers.
  • What percentage of claims for damage have been rejected due to the parcel having been, in the opinion of Australia Post, not "adequately or appropriately packaged".
  • On what basis is a determination made by a customer care consultant or any other employee that a parcel has not been adequately or appropriately packaged.
  • Since November 2015 what is the total compensation sought for parcel damage and what is the total amount that has been paid?

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