Return to sender reprised and another giant joins ACP in the payment mistake business.
Last week Crikey was debited three times by Kerry Packer’s magazine
arm, ACP for a subscription to the Womens Weekly taken out on September
14. After we broke the story we were quickly credited the amounts.

We wonder how quickly the other people who were also billed two, three
and four times last week in another ACP processing stuff up. But as you
will see a little later, ACP is not alone in having these sorts of
problem.

A major subsidiary of the country’s biggest general insurer, IAG, has a
similar situation. But before that more on the problems in ACP’s
distribution business, especially the newish contract given to
transport company First Fleet by ACP and Gordon and Gotch to distribute
their magazines.

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We have already revealed how deliveries are haphazard and how
subscriber copy deliveries to newsagents are going astray or not being
received – read more here: Packer magazines: return to sender.

Now a magazine delivery contractor tells their side of the story:

I have worked in the magazine distribution sector ACP/Network for
fifteen years delivering their magazines to newsagents by way of
being an owner driver.

Most of the trucks are the standard paper truck bodies and average a four tonne payload which amounts to a lot of magazines.

As the years passed by all sort of vehicles were used to carry the
loads to the agents. Courier companies being the worst offenders
overloading the vans meant to take one tonne leaving the yard with half
that weight again and sometime double.

1st Fleet has now been given the contract to pack and deliver the
magazines or what ever magazines that they can pack. Trucks are leaving
the 1st Fleet yard with only part of the consignment due to bad packing
procedures and the place being run by people who know little about the
magazine industry.

I am still hauling out of a rented yard which I understand is
being paid for by 1st Fleet. Both yards should be investigated by Work
Cover and the RTA should be monitoring the vehicles leaving the yard
for defects and weights.

1st Fleet is not fully to blame for all the fuck ups. Network/PBL have
gotten Zip Couriers (who delivery to the supermarkets) and 1st Fleet
into this mess by not telling them fully of the agenda, ie to cut
costs.

Since I have been in this industry PBL/ACP/Network have always
distanced themselves from any work related issues. They have always
contracted out the packing and distribution to various parties.

When the owner drivers were being given the flick and the business
handed to Zip we ended up in IRC taking Packer to court on the goodwill
issues which we won on a settlement out of court. We had to fight
another company that Network had made the meat in the sandwich or the
buffer, but that another story.

So last week’s over billing by ACP no doubt caused problems for people
who pay by credit cards and who breached their limits. There will be
all sorts of ramifications from that. And from ACP’s point of view
there’s the additional cost of the credits and how to recover the
merchant fees paid to the banks on the multiple bills.

But there’s another big company with similar problems. CGU, part of IAG has problems, as this account explains:

If you think ACP’s credit card deductions are sloppy, you should have
seen what went on at CGU in May and June. Premium instalments were
being deducted from policyholder’s cards up to 8 times.

Now, credits were going back in straight away for some of those
deductions, but trying to fix the ones that weren’t was like pulling
teeth. The buck was passed to ANZ who do our banking, who in turned
passed it on to some mob called Cardlink to get fixed. Supposedly
everything’s sorted out but rarely a week goes by without some customer
calling up still waiting for their credit card to be properly sorted out by us.

And considering the IAG’s mega-profits and executive salary packages
you might also like to know that CGU still uses, for most of it’s
business (certainly the lucrative commercial lines) the same old
user-unfriendly unreliable policy maintenance software as it did 20
years ago.

The software is so bad from a user point of view that I sometimes
wonder how management can look at it and just assume the figures it
generates are accurate, and haven’t been skewed in any way by
inaccurate data entry by frustrated and tired employees.

And check if you pay too much on a policy and need a refund
(which happens often) the cheque will be hand-written by a temp whose
job it is is to sit there all day and write them out long hand.
The company also offers no BPay facility for paying premiums or
excesses, we’re still in the dark days of requesting money orders and cheques here (which of course get lost).

There are a couple of interesting points from this. The first is that
the ANZ is the banker to PBL (and ACP and the Nine Network)as well as
CGU. Is there a problem there?

And the involvement of Cardlink, which is a company owned by all the banks to do their credit card processing.

Somewhere, somehow someone at ACP (read PBL Finance) and at CGU, have
not been properly trained to run credit card batch files to the ANZ
through Cardlink, or there are problems at Cardlink and the ANZ. Gives
you confidence, doesn’t it in the ability of all those highly-paid
executives at these companies to run their businesses well. And to
think they are being paid millions of dollars in salary, bonuses, super
and options and shares to stuff up like this!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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