Canada Post charges for non delivery

By Stephen Rhodes

Canada Post has taken its profit mandate to new heights.

Every business day, Canada Post provides service to 14 million addresses, delivering 40 million items, says Wikepedia.

The entry goes on to say delivery takes place via traditional “to the door” service by 15,000 letter carriers, supplemented by approximately 6,000 vehicle routes in rural and suburban areas. There are 6,800 post offices across the country, a combination of corporate offices and franchises like the one at your local pharmacy. Canada Post delivers to a larger area than any other nation, including Russia.

In 2007, consolidated revenues  from operations reached $7.5 billion and consolidated net income totaled $54 million, a far cry from the 1970s where major strikes combined with annual deficits that peaked at $600 million in 1981, forcing  two years of public debate and input into the future of mail delivery in Canada.

The government agreed to give  the post office more autonomy, to make it more commercially viable and to compete against and influx of courier services and in 1981 passed the “Canada Post Corporation Act”

So why the long-winded preamble?

A month ago, I visited one of their franchise locations to stop my mail for a week while I was on vacation. The cost was  $20.  I thought to myself, as I handed over the money, they are charging me  to not deliver my mail. They are charging me to provide no service to my house. They will hold onto my mail for a week and then deliver it all on one day, instead of five. Wow. And that costs $20. Chutzpah.

I have longed believed that door-to-door deliver of mail and  newspapers was a service that could not survive. In fact the bread and milk industry figured this out ages ago. So, how is it Canada Post can still deliver mail, door-to-door, for 57 cents apiece?

To its credit, Canada Post reinvented itself, became savvy business managers and turned a profit, which in essence means, as taxpayers, we are not carrying the freight of inefficiency.

However, you have to wonder how long door-to-door delivery can survive when email, Twitter, Facebook, online billing and a host of other communication tools are  available.

When was the last time (sigh) you received a letter? Text messaging, tweets at 140 characters and email will never replace this long-lost art form, but undoubtedly they will lead to its demise.

I admire Canada Post for rebuilding the brand, and creating a positive out of a negative. But charging me $20 to hold my mail for a week amounts to highway robbery.

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