Trader complains about 'unfair' freight rates

SINGING THE BLUES: Music shop proprietor Greg Drage, right, with Grey Liberal MP Rowan Ramsey and the guitar that would have cost $75 to freight to the Cooktown Post Office in Queensland.
SINGING THE BLUES: Music shop proprietor Greg Drage, right, with Grey Liberal MP Rowan Ramsey and the guitar that would have cost $75 to freight to the Cooktown Post Office in Queensland.

The old Elvis Presley song Return To Sender is echoing in the ears of music shop owner Greg Drage.

He was stung by high Australia Post freight rates when he inquired about sending a guitar to Queensland to a prospective buyer.

The $280 guitar that was being considered by the Cooktown buyer was quickly “returned” to the rack by Mr Drage.

He had offered to go halves in the $75 freight cost, but the buyer cancelled the deal.

Mr Drage, of Flinders View Music, took his concerns to Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell when she visited Port Pirie.

A spokesman for the Ombudsman said it seemed that Australia Post provided volume discounts to big customers who send large amounts of parcel mail.

“Concerns have been raised with me by small business operators regarding their capacity to compete with big business when it comes to online sales,” Ms Carnell said.

“One of the biggest barriers that small businesses face online is the cost of sending parcels.

“The music shop was quoted $75 to send a small guitar to a post office in North Queensland while a big business competitor was able to offer free postage.

“I am looking at options to level the playing field for small business to compete fairly with big business when it comes to sending goods within Australia. One option may be to establish a buying collective.”

Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said Mr Drage had explained to the Ombudsman how difficult it was to compete for online sales.

“I had spoken to Greg previously about this issue and how unfair it was that with the increasing number of people shopping online that even when he can compete on price, he can’t compete on freight,” he said.

“This is an issue across our country for small businesses, but it has got to the top of the pile because one businessman spoke out.”

A spokesperson for Australia Post said it offers discounts to both small and large customers depending on their requirements.

"Our commitment to our customers is to keep our pricing competitive and ensure that they have access to products and services that offer value for money," the spokesperson said.

“Australia Post provides customers with a number of competitive advantages that our competitors cannot match."

Mr Drage said he was unable to understand the high cost of transport for the guitar to Cooktown.

“It is not as though they were going to have to make a special trip,” he said.

He said it could cost $9 to send a packet of guitar strings in the mail.