NZ Post in damage control

BROOKE GARDINER IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 14:03 19/11/2012
Southland Times photo
BROOKE GARDINER/Fairfax NZ

NZ Post communications manager Michael Tull, left, and NZ Post national Heartland leader Dean Horsup speak to Queenstown Lakes District Council staff today.

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NZ Post is in major damage control mode after admitting staff could have acted sooner to resolve hundreds of complaints of missing mail in the Queenstown area.

Senior NZ Post staff flew into Queenstown this morning to meet with and apologise to some of those affected by the unprecedented mail theft which left thousands of customers without mail, some for as long as 18 months.

NZ Post national heartland leader Dean Horsup admitted internal systems had failed and said staff did not pick up on signals something was amiss.

''We're disappointed, naturally, and a little bit embarrassed about it,'' Mr Horsup said.

''Once the posties walk out the door we rely on a lot of trust. We can monitor them internally inside the building ... But we do have systems that normally work pretty well

''Looking back there's certainly some signals there some people (NZ Post staff) should have actually picked up on.''

A customer service centre which collates complaints to build a profile of each delivery area indicated there was a problem in Fernhill a ''fair while ago'' but those responsible for taking the matter further had failed to do so until two weeks ago, Mr Horsup said.

''Those folks that should have picked up on those signals ... didn't actually perhaps fulfil what they should have done.''

''A couple of weeks ago our security folks came down here. It got to the stage where there was obviously something wrong if it was not obvious before.''

As of Friday police sifting through the recovered mail items have counted more than 17,600 letters and parcels dating back to May 2011. There was still more to count.

Residents of Fernhill, Sunshine Bay, Arrowtown and Lakes Hayes are all known to be affected by the large scale theft.

The 32-year-old female postie, who was arrested by police on November 9, also worked on other routes in the wider Queenstown area but NZ Post refused to identify where or when.

NZ Post communications manager Michael Tull said the postie worked on the Fernhill route 90 per cent of the time and confirmed she had been responsible for the Arrowtown area for a month and had also covered at Lake Hayes in May last year.

''From my understanding there may have been other runs this postie may have been on in the area,'' Mr Tull said.

''Clearly we were caught off guard by it ... the unprecedented nature of it is something that makes this such a learning experience for us too.''

The postie, who has been granted interim name suppression, is due to appear in Queenstown District Court on December 3.

NZ Post encouraged anyone who believes they have been disadvantaged by the mail theft to contact 0800 501 501 to lodge an official complaint.

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- The Southland Times

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