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The Perilous Pitfalls of Self-Publishing: Part 4 – More Postage Predicaments

Readers of Part 3 will recall that we left off with me spending an hour or so entering all the addresses, dimensions, weights etc for my 20 books into the NZ Post website, so that I can print out the labels and drop them into the post office – saving myself $5 per book in the process. However, the website was “undergoing technical issues” and refused to accept my payment, and after several failed attempts simply emptied my cart of all parcels and left me back at square one.

Feeling refreshed the next morning, I try once more. I laboriously re-enter the details for my twenty parcels, and once again try to make payment.

“I’m sorry, we are undergoing technical issues and your order cannot be processed at the moment”


I phone NZ Post to ask them what is going on.

“Ah, yes, we’re aware of that issue. What you need to do is select other as a customs description, instead of gift – then it should work fine”

Riiiiiiight. Of course! Back I go to my order – which, thankfully, is still sitting there in my cart – and edit the customs declaration one by one for 20 parcels. Amazingly it seems to work – I submit the order and the payment is processing, woo-hoo!

“I’m sorry, your card has been declined, please contact the card issuer”

Well I know the money is in my bank account, so this is really frustrating. Perhaps I should contact the bank just in case. I log in to my bank account to be sure, only to find I have a balance of… $4. What. The. Fuck. I just transferred money to the account the day before, and I’ve spent nothing – what the hell is happening and just when and why was I cursed so cruelly anyway?

Closer inspection of the account reveals the answer. While the NZ Post website has reported its inability to process my payment, it turns out that nobody told the NZ Post payment gateway about the issue. Thus they have successfully authorised 5 separate payments of $320 each, meaning I’m now down to $4 and have paid for my postage 5 times while receiving precisely zero postage. If I was Hulk, I would totally have turned into Hulk right about now.

Then it dawns on me that I need petrol and food and have no more income for at least a week. Being less than confident in the ability of NZ Post to sort out this problem, my first port of call is my bank. Friendly and sympathetic, they nevertheless inform me that there is nothing they can do – they can’t cancel payment authorisations without written authority from NZ Post, which is fair enough, but at least they have given me the email address for NZ Post to send the authority to, and a phone number to call if they need more information.

Oh well, I’ll have to call NZ Post and pass on the information. A very helpful lady in customer service apologises profusely and says she’ll get it sorted and call me right back. As a vastly experienced receiver of appalling customer service from numerous large companies, I hedge my bets and log the complaint via email as well.

5pm arrives and I have of course heard nothing. I borrow $30 from my 11-year-old daughter so that I can go to the supermarket and pick up some food. Next morning I receive an email from customer service – who helpfully reply to my message requesting that they sort this out by contacting my bank by telling me that I need to contact my bank. Yeah, great. Later I get a call from the helpful customer service lady from the previous day, who tells me (and I’m paraphrasing here) that she can find nobody within the company who gives a rat’s arse about this. She assures me she’ll continue trying, and later I get another call saying that her accounts team have informed her that the authorisations will simply disappear from my account in ten days time and then I’ll get my money back.

I patiently explain that ten days is not quite good enough – they have taken $1,600 of my money and I need the money back today. And all they need to do is take 5 minutes to email the bank and sort it out. But apparently nobody at NZ Post is willing to do this. In the meantime, emergency funds arrive in my bank account from overseas family so that my family can eat.

Four very long days later, featuring numerous unanswered emails and phone calls, and my helpful customer service lady says she’s finally found someone to help me, hooray! While the accounts people are still unwilling to contact my bank, she’s found a way to finalise the transactions and then refund them all. So 6 days after they took my $1,600, I finally get it back! But bloody hell, they made me work for it.

Which of course leaves me back to square one, or about halfway through Part 3 of this horror story!

With my bank card now finally working again, I log back into my NZ Post account to make the payment so that I can finally print my damn labels and post my books.

“I’m sorry, your cart is empty”

1 thought on “The Perilous Pitfalls of Self-Publishing: Part 4 – More Postage Predicaments”


    Okay, sorry, I shouldn’t laugh at your misery, but you’ve gone and made it all so entertaining!

    Keep’m coming…

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