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Change of Address Protocol / Rules in Canberra

By Jethro - 17 November 2011 34

So I moved house in Canberra about 2 years ago.

For a fair time after moving I received, on average, 10 letters a week addressed to the previous residents of the house. For the first 6 months or so I made the effort to write ‘Not at this address’ on the front of the envelope and pop the mail back in an Australia Post box once a week.

Doing this was annoying. Australia Post has a service, which doesn’t cost much at all, that redirects your mail. I have always paid for this service when moving house, as I don’t think it is reasonable to expect that the people who moved into my old abodes should be expected to redirect my mail.

After about 6 months I got fed up and just piled the letters up, doing a bulk post of these letters every now and then. I’m getting sick of doing this. Admittedly, quite a few senders realised that they should stop sending mail to the previous residents to my address. Nonetheless, I’m still receiving at least 3 letters a week for these people.

So, my questions are… am I forever obliged to redirect these letters? What are the laws regarding dumping this mail? What if I just ‘don’t see’ their letters in my letterbox and they happen to get eaten by snails? What strategies do other people use to deal with the influx of un-redirected mail?

My thinking is, if it’s against the law not to ‘return to sender’, it should also be against the law not to redirect your mail when you move.

As for those of you who don’t redirect their mail.

You suck.

What’s Your opinion?

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34 Responses to
Change of Address Protocol / Rules in Canberra
breda 1:55 pm 17 Nov 11

Many organisations use mailing houses to maintain their address database and send out their mail. The mailing houses have no incentive to delete names, especially as they charge per unit sent out. I worked for one of these places years ago, and they had literally rooms full of returned mail – and two little old ladies working three days a week (on very slow old computers) going through box after box deleting addresses. In the end, the mailing house rented extra space to store the returned mail as the piles grew bigger and bigger. It’s pretty clear where the financial incentives are to maintain bloated lists.

And yes, I know from experience that AP’s redirection service can be hit and miss.

So, I do the right thing for 12 months or so, then bin it. No-one can prove that you ever received any particular item anyway, and how would you remember the details of every item you had RTS? ; )

Watson 1:55 pm 17 Nov 11

I cannot find an official source that quotes the law relating to disposing of incorrectly addressed mail though.

Grail 1:21 pm 17 Nov 11

Although it is in theory illegal, I simply shred any mail to previous resident after the first 12 months. The evidence of my crime can be found in the back yard, being eaten by worms and pooped on by chooks. You’re welcome to it.

After the first dozen “no longer at this address” returns, I feel that I’ve done enough to satisfy any form of social contract that might be in place to help mail get delivered to the appropriate recipient.

The worst part is that some friends I was living with for a while are still getting mail from one of my super funds, long after I have ceased to have any superannuation with that fund.

gertel 12:55 pm 17 Nov 11

We paid for a redirection earlier this year but then found some items weren’t being redirected (the senders contacted us by phone when the mail was returned). I put in a formal complaint wiht Auspost (first in my life – for anything). They eventually conacted me via phone, suggested they’d investigated and found no problems and that we should keep any future mail for proof… I said – you are kidding – that’s the whole point – I am NOT getting the mail!!! Top stuff.

At the new digs some mail arrived from the Electoral Commission addressed to John Anderson (of the fmr Deputy PM variety). I think he left that address in 07 when he retired from politics. Trust a pollie not to have all his AEC details up to date 🙂

Watson 10:59 am 17 Nov 11

I did the ‘not at this address” thing for a few months after I moved into my current house, over 4 years ago. Now anything that doesn’t have my name on it gets treated as junk mail.

I question the legal weight of that Australia Post advice. And it’s not as if the postie is going to hide behind your bin to catch you in the act!

If they don’t bother changing their address for that long, they obviously don’t care about this mail and won’t mind if it gets binned.

djk 10:36 am 17 Nov 11

Same story here, although we only get one or two a week.

Funnily enough though, when the government was sending out the $900 GFC bonus, the previous owner’s son actually came around and knocked on the door at 10pm on a Friday night looking for their money. I informed him that all letters addressed to them were put back in the post with Return to Sender on them. This was apparently not good enough for him (and he obviously thought we had somehow cashed the cheques and stolen the money) so he wandered off muttering loudly and then decided to bag it up on the gravel at the front of our house before speeding off.

Sleaz274 10:28 am 17 Nov 11

Pay? for a free service being provided by you. Hahahahaha

Why companies still send out physical paper mail anymore bemuses me seeing as they now require a million bits of contact information just to register on a website.

Email, text, autonotification popups…it’s the way of the future hahahahahaha

Westpac for instance sends me my account info still even though I’ve asked for no mail updates, by the time it has arrived it is a month behind and bears no real relation to my accounts. Why do they provide this redundant “service” when with about 30secs of effort I can do internet banking or phone? Telstra ruined my credit report and forced me to launch a formal investigation through the ombudsman because they mailed an old address (with incorrect information) for 6 months for a $101 closing bill even though they had my new address, mobile number and government email.

My regular email addresses have changed not once in 6 years. My phone number once after living in Thailand. My address however has changed every 3-6 months due to the ubiquitious shared living arrangements in this town.

Seriously to the OP chuck it in the bin, who gives a f***

Waiting For Godot 10:26 am 17 Nov 11

Reminds me of when I had a temp job at the Dept of Finance. On the mailing list was Rene Rivkin who committed suicide more than five years earlier. I asked someone whether I should delete the address and I was told that addresses could only be deleted or amended if the recipient personally requests it.

rescuedg 10:23 am 17 Nov 11

If anyone knows Simon Standing can you please tell him to go back to when he lived in a Turner apartment and have his mail forwarded, I get 3 letters a day for him. Have written return to sender, no longer at this address, please adjust your records etc and still get the same mail. Some of the mail seems somewhat important (govt departments etc) and a lot of crap direct advertising and catalogues. My real estate agent says the landlord has no contact details for him. If he is dead will I keep getting his mail into perpetuity?

devils_advocate 10:22 am 17 Nov 11

Seems to be a lot worse in rental/ex share houses. However, I bought a place 5 years ago and did what you did and was still getting mail up til a few months ago. I perservered though and eventually the mail from the former resident dried up.

Lazy I 10:16 am 17 Nov 11

“Return to sender, recipient deceased”

Problem solved. 😉

woppadingo 9:31 am 17 Nov 11

Absolutely not. You are under no obligation what so ever to forward the mail. If the people who previously lived there have not bothered to put in a change of address at the post office, they obviously don’t care for the mail that was being sent. Chuck it in the bin. Throw it on the street. Let them or the senders get fined for littering.

BethiePrice 9:19 am 17 Nov 11

“So, my questions are… am I forever obliged to redirect these letters? What are the laws regarding dumping this mail? What if I just ‘don’t see’ their letters in my letterbox and they happen to get eaten by snails? What strategies do other people use to deal with the influx of un-redirected mail?”

If you read the Post Indusrty Ombudsman’s information (, it will tell you, you aren’t allowed to throw out the mail. My suggestion would be to bundle it up, write RTS (return to sender) on the front page and then only take it to Australia Post when you are actually going there. Most people will start wondering why they aren’t receiving mail/bill notifications/statements and contact the companies that send them. Seeing as you aren’t technically redirecting anywhere other than back to where they came from your argument could be that you don’t have the time to be going to the post office everytime the letters come back so one bundle every six months should suffice 🙂
In saying that my partner has the theory that if it’s addressed to his house he can open it… and I say if it accidently gets stuck with the junk mail when i throw it in the stinky bin…I’m not retrieving it 😛

Genie 9:18 am 17 Nov 11

I know people who have lived in their house or 5-10 years and still get letters roughly once a month for previous tennants/owners.

It’s not that hard !

gp 9:14 am 17 Nov 11

Keen to get some info on this myself. 10 years after I moved in, I still get letters from businesses and super funds for past residents. I have starting adding some colourful langauge under the ‘Not at this address’, but they keep sending. Sadly, the ‘snails’ have gotten a few in recent times.

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