Businesses warned of alleged letterbox scam


She paid $3816 for printing and delivery but hasn’t seen any evidence the flyers were delivered.

“The promotion was time sensitive and after the delivery dates passed with no response or acknowledgement of receipt of the flyer by my clients, I became alarmed,” she said. “I have since received confirmation in writing from 16 clients and friends whose addresses spread across the various postcodes in the delivery catchment, that they did not receive the flyer even though they have no advertising restrictions on their letterbox.”

Martine Dennis holding the flyer she paid Independent Letterbox to distribute. Credit:Joe Armao

On quizzing Independent Letterbox about the job Ms Dennis said she was given a vague response that “there are no guarantees with delivery” and that “staff aren’t paid much” and said she was told essentially there was nothing Independent Letterbox was going to do about it.

Ms Dennis asked for her money back and has filed a claim with VCAT which is due to be heard on  April 8.

“It’s about the time spent and the anguish,” Ms Dennis said. “My motivation is to not be taken advantage of in situations like this. I want them to be held accountable and not treat other businesses in the same way.”

Further problems

Numerous other small business owners also claim they have been ripped off by Independent Letterbox.

Lisa Muller, the co-owner of Spectrum Electrical and Data in Brisbane, claims Independent Letterbox failed to deliver her promotional material.

Last  October Mrs Muller paid about $2000 for more than 10,000 fridge magnets to be delivered in the business area, but only received one call from a potential customer.

“We live in the catchment area so we kept an eye out in our inbox, we didn’t receive one and other people in our street did not receive them,” Mrs Muller said. “We got in touch with the distribution company and we got a spreadsheet and said they could not guarantee all letterboxes were delivered to. Just to get one phone call didn’t add up for us.”

Eight billion unaddressed mail units are distributed through letterboxes every year.

Eight billion unaddressed mail units are distributed through letterboxes every year. Credit:Eddie Jim

Pauline Wright, of Jacuzzi Hot Tubs in Pakenham, said she spent thousands of dollars and got little return and believes only a handful of flyers were delivered.

“Of over 30 family and friends in the catchment area that the distribution goes to, not one was delivered,” Ms Wright said. “Do not deal with this company.”

‘Misunderstanding’

A spokesman for Independent Letterbox Distribution Company said he was “gutted” by the “misunderstanding” with Ms Dennis.

“I lie awake at night thinking about how I could have handled this miscommunication differently,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said Ms Dennis’ delivery was undertaken by an independent contractor and he understood territory relating to 331 flyers out of the more than 50,000 fliers was not completed and the “walker” responsible has been dismissed.

The spokesman said Independent Letterbox had tried to arrange Ms Dennis a refund and a credit note but she had not accepted this.

Ms Dennis said the refund offered was for $21.95 only and this was unacceptable.

“I really hope we can achieve an acceptable outcome for her, and the business will accept any decision by the arbitrator,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the issues with Spectrum Electrical, and Jacuzzi Hot Tubs occurred under the management of the previous owner of the business, so Independent Letterbox declined to comment.

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Independent Letterbox’s website states it is a member of the Australasian Catalogue Association, which is part of the Real Media Collective and a signatory to its Distribution Standards Board (‘DSB’) Code of Practice.

However Kellie Northwood, chief executive of the Real Media Collective said Independent Letterbox is no longer a financial member of  the DSB, and its listing on the website is an “incorrect oversight on our behalf” and has been removed.

Ms Northwood said regardless of membership, there is a DSB hotline and register and to date she has not seen an increase or spike in complaints for the area Independent Letterbox distributes to.

“Despite occasional complaints, overall some 8 billion unaddressed mail units are distributed through the letterbox every year and the DSB is currently tracking less than 0.2 per cent complaint rate,” she said.

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Cara is the small business editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne

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