When a package goes missing, it’s a pain.
When a package with sentimental value goes missing, it’s painful.
Palmerston woman Tanya Wright knows this feeling well. Since July – before the ACT was in COVID-19 lockdown – she has been expecting a package from her mother-in-law who lives in Hervey Bay, Queensland.
In the package is a handmade cardigan, a red beanie, a library bag with a dinosaur sewn on it, and some hand towels.
It should have been delivered on Thursday, 15 July.
Since then, Tanya has been on a mission to track down the items.
There have been phone calls, hours sitting on hold to various agencies, Facebook posts, tracking down people who think they might know something, letterbox dropping, and learning more about how packages are delivered than she thought she’d ever need to know.
There have been hours spent learning about how many of her street names there are in Australia (there’s no others within Canberra, or within 100km of the ACT, in case you’re interested).
While there is a Palmerston in the Northern Territory, she is 100 per cent sure it didn’t end up there.
Tanya says she has exhausted pretty much all of her avenues. The last place the package has been tracked to is a GPS location near her home in Palmerston, but there isn’t a delivery photo to verify this.
She thinks it may have mistakenly ended up with a neighbour or another house in her suburb because her home recording system shows it wasn’t delivered to her own house.
“It’s a system that only records if there is movement or if someone rings the bell,” explains Tanya.
She’s been around to ask those neighbours closest to her and is now pleading with the wider community to “double-check your letterboxes, your houses, check in with your neighbours, friends and family”.
Some of the wackier theories she’s come across on Facebook include a warehouse in regional NSW that’s meant to be full of stolen packages.
Right now, Tanya isn’t concerned about who has got it, why they have it or why they might not yet have returned it.
“I have a four-year-old asking every day where his package is, and a one-year-old who I can’t dress in her ‘cardi’,” she says.
“I can’t even send my mother-in-law photos of the kids with their gifts from gran to proudly share among her friends.”
The hand towels were meant to have been Tanya’s birthday present.
She’s even offering a $100 reward for anyone who might be able to locate the package.
So far, the community response has been incredible, says Tanya. People have offered to knit her a cardigan just like the one the family is missing, and chip in for the reward.
“We aren’t going to take up any of these offers though because we count ourselves among the lucky ones with a roof over our head and we are able to pay the bills,” she says.
In a statement to Region Media, an Australia Post spokesperson acknowledged the challenges of current circumstances, in which record volumes of parcels are being delivered.
The current protocol for delivering parcels dictates that posties and drivers knock at someone’s door three times and call out before leaving a card or safe-dropping a parcel.
The spokesperson said that reasons for a card being left without knocking would be access or safety issues, “such as an off-leash dog – and this could happen even when a customer is home”.
Customers are encouraged by Australia Post to download their mobile app which provides an option to have parcels left in a safe place.
If an item is incorrectly addressed or is unclaimed at the post office and can’t be returned to its sender, it is sent to a mail redistribution centre where it is opened, catalogued and stored for two months, during which time the customer service team will try to connect mail to customers.
If the two-month retention period lapses and the item hasn’t been claimed, all identifying markings are removed and the item will be auctioned, with 100 per cent of the proceeds donated to charity.