Hello Ottawa … Is Anybody Up There? Help! Canada Post is Screwing Us. Somebody Make Them Stop!

2009_Lest_We_Forget_StampCanadians get a deal when mailing a first-class letter at $0.54 + GST. The rate is fair and the service fine. But that seems to be where fairness ends at Canada Post. All other rates are horrendous rip-offs. I’m amazed that there hasn’t been an huge outcry from Tofino to Resolute Bay to Pelee Island to Telegraph Hill.

So often, while in that inevitable line-up at Canada Post, I’ve seen people mailing the smallest parcel domestically and paying out $8.00 – $12.00. Quite often the postage exceeds the value of what you’re mailing! Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.

Even worse, the Canada Post customer service person usually will offer you a list of options: next day, 3-5 days, whatever. These are all costlier than the lowest available. The customer often will, without really thinking, agree to some higher rate with the prospect of faster service.

Speedier delivery, which the customer rarely needs, is not assured in spite of the surcharge. If only the customer would just stop to consider the options. For the lowest rate, his/her parcel will get there fast (often within 1 or 2 days in a range of 800 – 1000 km, regardless of a threat from Canada Post of “7 to 10 business days”, etc. And anyway … what’s the big problem with 7 – 10 business days 99.99% of the time?

So look, good people, you’re getting hosed at the cheapest rate to begin. Don’t let them pick your pocket and make you look like a total ninny. And 99.99% of the time — don’t go for the added “insurance” they love to get you to buy.

You get an automatic $100 insurance coverage when you ship cheapest, regardless. Something else to consider: you add a whack of extra insurance and your parcel gets lost or damaged (this almost never happens — having shipped books to thousands to readers around the world, I know this to be true). Good luck trying to settle a claim with Canada Post. Getting to first base would mean finding someone to talk to on the telephone about your claim. Fat chance of that ever happening, right! Yes, there’s a lot to think about when mailing the least little parcel within Canada. Main thing is, start putting the squeeze on Canada Post for a change — turn the tables. Ship cheapest and be sure even to complain like hell about that.

This brings me to the next beef … mailing to the USA. Canada Post USA rates now are so horrendous that a small Canadian business such as CANAV Books can pretty well write off the American market. I used to be able to mail a book, say to Texas, at some half-affordable rate. Today, to mail one copy of any of CANAV’s titles across the border the cheapest cost is anywhere from $20 to $30. Do you think the reader will go for this? Well, people have their limits, so nearly all of the USA business lovingly built up by CANAV since 1981 has disappeared. My diehard customers will still get their books, but only when they are on a trip to Vancouver, Toronto, etc., where they can drop into Aviation World or some such outlet featuring CANAV.

Meanwhile, in the USA the folks in Washington have some respect for small businesses, publishers included. They realize the importance of this huge sector in their economy. They prefer to nurture rather than crush it. (Listen up, Stephen Harper — you used to champion the small businessman, remember? Probably not, eh.) Today, I received in the mail an aviation book ordered from Arizona. This was charged at the 1 kg rate (approx) and the postage was $4.03 — a fair and civilized rate. For me to send the same book back to Arizona, thanks to our beloved Public Enemy No.1 Canada Post the cost would be between $12.65 and $13.95 plus fuel surcharge. Talk about your world-class cash grab and what a disgrace!

As for mailing anywhere across the pond or the bigpond, you can forget about that if you’re trying to sell your small-business product. CANAV has almost no overseas customers left (it now costs about $85.00 to mail by boat one set of Air Transport in Canada to some destination like Australia). The surface rates are so high that even my former EU customers (the EU — where the price of everything’s sky high) are horrified. A couple of Dutchmen have even gone ballistic, chewing me out personally, as if I was the one setting the rates, instead of the mafia (oh well, they’d never have been able to get through to Canada Post to lodge a complaint, so may as well blast the publisher).

Good citizens that they all are, it is ever so hard for Canadians to complain … just ain’t gonna happen. What we are best at is muttering under our breath, but never really standing up and demanding a revolution. We’re just happy getting screwed by the government, I guess, so bring on the HST. What not, eh … tax us a ton more, we love it.

Well, failing all else, think about “The Great Canada Post Rip-Off” next time you’re at the postal counter. But don’t let them screw you completely … take the lowest rate available with no add-ons. Try it, you’ll like it!

Bell Canada: A Laugh a Minute

After nearly 30 years with Bell, CANAV Books recently switched to a rival telephone service. This was easily done, but then came the reality of it.

Last week Bell sent CANAV a little “customer appreciation” note — a $316.05 bill to disconnect the old line. No kidding … to exercise its right to do business elsewhere, CANAV gets mugged by Bell. Well, nothing to do but pay up, right (you can be sure if you dillydallied, Bell soon would have its enforcers at you door).

So CANAV coughed up and so far so good with Vonage. Suddenly, however, here’s Bell back on your doorstep. CANAV receives the sweetest card in the mail from one Peter Kerr — “Vice-President, Marketing, Small Business Market, Bell”. Peter’s got an idea:

“Dear Larry Milberry … Your business means a lot to us and we’re sorry to see you go … we’re still thinking about you. Nothing would please us more than the chance to earn back your business …”

Can you believe this? “Ma Bell” mugs a loyal old customer, then comes straight back in sack cloth and ashes, begging to be taken back in! Well, fat chance, eh! But let’s say CANAV did fall for this con. What likely would be on the first invoice from Bell? Right on …  a $316.05 “re-connect service fee”. Aren’t they just the finest Canadians down at Bell?

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