Former Aramex courier claims treatment of parcels 'one of the worst', reveals behind-the-scenes practices

The courier spoke to Newshub as a complaintant after working at the Palmerston North Aramex depot (pictured) for two years.
The courier spoke to Newshub as a complaintant after working at the Palmerston North Aramex depot (pictured) for two years. Photo credit: Supplied.

A former Aramex New Zealand employee says bungled deliveries, mishandled packages and poor health and safety regulations paint a grim picture of the courier company's behind-the-scenes operations.  

The former staffer, who wishes to remain anonymous, worked for the delivery company as a courier and freight sorter for nearly two years at the Palmerston North depot.

Now, the individual has come forward with a series of allegations against Aramex New Zealand, formerly known as FastWay Couriers. The Dubai-based logistics group purchased the Hawke's Bay business for $125 million in 2016, with FastWay officially transitioning to the Aramex brand in November 2019.

Despite its international presence and self-proclaimed status as one of the world's top five logistic providers, the former employee says the franchise is "one of the worst" couriers they have worked for in their freight career, alleging deep-seated issues within the company's management. 

The former employee's revelations follow the release of footage capturing an Aramex courier carelessly tossing a package from the front seat of his van, audibly hitting the recipient's doorstep. The footage, captured by the property's private security camera, was widely-circulated on social media after the disgruntled customer shared the video to Reddit

Now, the former staffer's allegations suggest the negligent delivery was not a one-off.

"The packages get thrown, they get squashed," they told Newshub. "There's a lot of parcels that get lost. They go into the wrong containers. If you could hide and actually watch them at 5:15am, you'd see it all happening.

"Their treatment of the freight would be one of the worst. I've worked for nearly all of [the local couriers] and it's one of the worst companies I have ever worked with."

Review underway

In one of two responses provided to Newshub, Aramex chief operating officer Brad Bernie said a review of the processes will be undertaken in Palmerston North, adding however the depot is regularly "a high performing operation with minimal damaged freight". 

Bernie also addressed individual allegations regarding packages being frequently lost or misdelivered, poor management and training and dangerous goods.

Bernie said "items are moved in either a dedicated cage for larger destinations or mixed cages for smaller destinations", however it is claimed that when the packages arrive at the depot, "they're all mixed". 

Bernie told Newshub the performance of regional franchises is monitored and reported. 

"We take all claims seriously and we have an ongoing commitment to improving processes and systems to ultimately enhance our service."

The complainant alleges Aramex's management team are aware of the poor standards, but "don't care".

"The management knew everything that was going on," the source told Newshub.

"They don't do anything to rectify it." 

The complainant denied poor treatment of workers was a factor in the allegations, claiming staff were treated "like friends" by the management. However, they said workers were frequently employed without experience and were often given the go-ahead without sufficient training. 

"It doesn't matter if they don't have experience. They're given a week's training and then it's 'off you go'," the source said. 

Dangerous goods' system 'absolutely crap'

The source also claimed the branch they worked for was also negligent in regards to dangerous goods (DGs). A dangerous good is classified as any substance or material that is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when transported in commerce. This includes items such as batteries, aerosols and flammable liquids such as petrol, kerosene and methylated spirits, which can become hazardous when moving through a transport network due to pressure, temperature, static electricity and vibration. Other examples include fireworks and ammunition, diesel, LPG and CNG cylinders and some commercial and household cleaning products.

Certain types and quantities of dangerous goods can be sent through the delivery network, provided the correct processes are followed.

People who transport dangerous goods are typically required to have a dangerous goods (D) endorsement on their driver licence. According to the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA), operators or couriers who transport dangerous goods will usually need a D endorsement, which can be applied for after the completion of an approved course.

The former employee claims that Aramex New Zealand's dangerous goods' system is "absolutely crap".

"Some of the couriers have DG licences, but they still don't understand DGs," they told Newshub.

According to NZTA, packages containing dangerous goods must be marked or labelled to identify their hazardous content under the Land Transport Rule: Dangerous Goods 2005. Dangerous goods are identified with a UN number, a proper shipping name and a diamond-shaped class warning label. It's important incompatible dangerous goods are separated and carriers maintain safe handling practices. 

Aramex NZ CEO Brad Bernie confirmed it is company policy for all couriers and courier franchisees to have a current Dangerous Goods Licence and to have clear DG management processes in place to ensure operations are in accordance with all relevant legislation.  

"Ongoing training is part of these policies and provided routinely," he said. 

'It was shocking'

The complainant claimed the depot was frequently unorganised.

"It was shocking," they said. "Every day stood out for me." 

"If they actually saw what was going on, Health and Safety [would] close the branch down."

Bernie said the Palmerston North depot "is regularly a high performing operation with minimal damaged freight" and one of the highest operations for successfully delivering freight on time.

Aramex initially responded to Newshub's questions by requesting personal details about the complainant. 

To maintain anonymity, Newshub withheld the specific details including their name but advised their depot. 

Two statements were provided to Newshub from Bernie who said a review of the processes at the depot would be undertaken. However, he noted the depot in question is "regularly a high-performing operation with minimal damaged freight".

"Aramex New Zealand takes these issues very seriously," Bernie said. "Over 36 years Aramex has developed robust systems and has the right people engaged at a franchise and employment level to deliver a work environment that is safe, compliant and rewarding for all involved."

He added "we accept on occasion, we may see a matter of non-compliance that needs to be addressed and we will look into these concerns further and if we identify anything we will amend our policies, processes and initiate further training."