When Tracey and Mark Roben arrived home after a dinner to celebrate their 24th wedding anniversary, they saw a package at their front door – each thought the other had bought an anniversary present.
Imagine their disappointment when they opened the box to find a notice from Maitland City Council for their latest rate instalment along with rates notices for about 300 other Maitland households.
Tracey, a former Telarah girl, and Mark moved from their Medowie property to their new Aberglasslyn home about one month ago.
“When we opened it we realised that it was a bill for our rates due by the end of the month but the problem was there were about 300 other rate notices in there as well,” Tracey said.
“We thought it was a bit strange that we would have so many notices delivered to us and it wasn’t until I looked further that I realised they weren't all ours,” she said.
The rates notices, some overdue, were for properties across the city. These included homes, apartments and units and commercial properties.
Some instalments ranged from $250 to $2500 for rates owing on properties from Aberglasslyn to Ashtonfield and several other suburbs across the city. The notices included names and addresses.
“What’s unusual is that all the instalments are due by the end of the month,” Tracey said.
Maitland City Council’s Manager Finance and Risk Annette Peel said the notices were delivered to the wrong address and the matter has been raised with council’s “mailing house.
“Council has identified a distribution issue with our mailing house that has resulted in the rates notices for properties that are managed by a local real estate agent being sent to a single wrong address,” she said.
“The mailing house are aware of the issue and are now amending their process to avoid this happening again.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused to the resident and we will arrange for the notices to be collected from them as soon as possible,” Ms Peel said.
Tracey was hoping the box contained a surprise anniversary gift.
“We got a shock when we came home after our dinner and saw the package at the front door.
“I thought Mark had gone and bought me something for our anniversary and he thought I’d bought him something,” she said.
The box was addressed to the couple at their Budgeree Drive address and was marked unregistered mail.
“We thought council had printed out several years of rate instalments for us,” Tracey joked.
“Then we looked past the first four notices (ours was the one on top) and saw the rest related to properties across the city but they were all addressed to Tony Cant Real Estate and Starr Partners,” she said.
“You can see how our names and address on the original notice had been photocopied and pasted to the front of the box as the delivery address,” Tracey said.
She has not been able to contact council because both she and her husband work during their business hours.
“These are important documents and there will be people out there waiting for them,” Tracey said.
Starr Partners managing director Andrew Cant said if the notices are Starr Partners client's rates notices it may have been a council or mail addressing mistake.
“It's not like they have sent 300 notices that were meant to go to 300 different addresses,” he said.
“It’s more like they have sent one parcel to the wrong address.”