Sunday, June 26, 2011

Can you trust Canada Post?

Canada Post reports that its volume is down by 17 per cent in recent years. We assume some of that loss can be traced to increased use of technology such as FAX services and the Internet. A significant factor that is often left unsaid, though, is loss of basic trust in the post office.

Use of a service like Canada Post depends to a large extent on trust. But, unfortunately, theft is a major problem in that organization. To get a sense of just how much of a problem it is, Google “Canada post theft” for yourselves and browse through the millions of results it throws up.

As recently as this month, two Canada Post employees were charged after Peel Region police investigated a mail theft operation that they say could have netted up to $500,000. But this is only one of the scores of examples.

Of course, we know that there is always a rotten apple or two in any large barrel, but would you tolerate so high an incidence of dishonesty in your household or business? I would not.

It was not always thus.

Back in the 1950s when I was a teenager in rural Jamaica, a cousin of mine mailed me a wristwatch from New York. He wrapped the watch band round a rolled-up magazine and wrapped that in plain brown paper. He then sent the package to me by regular mail uninsured, writing on the outside in bold print, “HANDLE WITH CARE  – WATCH INCLOSED.” About three days later, I received the watch in a small town in Jamaica.

How many of you readers would do such a thing now? How many would trust Canada Post workers enough to identify on the outside of a package that it contained a wristwatch?

A few years ago, one of my brothers-in-law who worked at the post office told me it was a practice at a certain Toronto-area postal facility to drop-kick parcels marked, “HANDLE WITH CARE” around the facility. Employees on the job were seen wearing t-shirts with slogans containing four-letter words of the worse kind. It was an everything-goes sort of work environment. The attitude of many workers was: if something is against company rules, no matter how egregious, then do it—the union will protect you.

Nice image, eh? Most people I know have a Canada Post “horror story” to tell. Too bad, for the post office was once an organization of which Canadians were justifiably proud. There was a time when most national postal services had a high degree of trust. No longer, though. And I believe that has cost Canada Post dearly in lost business as potential customers choose more trustworthy private couriers. And, having lost our trust, I don’t believe Canada Post will ever get it back—at least, not if they retain the same labour unions.

To be fair, most postal workers are hard-working and honest men and women, and most would not commit an illegal or unethical act. But that barrel has just too many rotten apples for my liking.



© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.



    It is manifestly insane for any democratic society to tolerate public employees to strike against citizens who are forced to pay their extravagant wages and benefits.

    Government is mandated to serve; therefore, it is a moral contradiction to allow employees who have been hired to serve to repudiate such service without leaving city employment. The more unionized laborers hired the more exposed taxpayers become victims of the extreme wage demands by these gluttonous, callous, and habitually quasi incompetent thugs who believe that they are entitled to remain on the gravy train for life. They insist that they deserve salary, benefits, and pensions that are normally 14% more generous than those of their private-sector counterparts. We pay thousands of additional tax dollars so that ever increasing numbers of useless, surplus employees, who are expected to serve us, can enjoy undeserving high wages and benefits.
    If our progressive tax and spend-o-holics politicians were fiscally responsible they would privatize the postal service or, at the very least, ban public sector unions and seriously restrain left-wing, bias arbitrators. Government must mandate that arbitrators can not increase wages or benefits that result in wage/benefits that are higher than those in equal (not necessarily the same) private sector jobs.

    “public sector unions are able to exert influence over government policy to extract ‘economic rents” (an economic term for compensation above the market value of their labor)

    Ben Eisen, policy analyst, The Frontier Centre for Public Policy,

    “Public unions have a monopoly position that gives them undue bargaining power. Their campaign cash—collected via mandatory dues—also helps to elect the politicians who are then supposed to represent taxpayers in negotiations with those same unions. The unions sit, in effect, on both sides of the bargaining table.”

    Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2011

    “When union leader negotiate with a politician, they negotiating with someone they can hire and fire. Public unions have numbers and money, and politicians need both… negotiate with unions, it’s not collective bargaining, it’s more like collusion.”

    Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2011

    “It’s wrong for union bosses to essentially compel unionized employees to finance a political campaign whether they like it or not. This practice is clearly undemocratic. It’s also an infringement on free expression and free association. Just as we have the right to associate with any group, we should also have the right not to associate.
    No one should be forced to subsidize the pet political causes of union bosses. If the unions want to mount a political campaign, let them use money raised voluntarily”.

    Gerry Nicholls, National Post, March 15, 2011

    “And the fact that unions are among the most active donors in city election helps keeps their political bosses in a generous mood. Little wonder that a 2008 study by the Canadian Federal of Independent Business found that the average municipal public worker earned more than 14% higher wages and benefits that the average private sector employee.”

    K. Libin, National Post, December 13, 2010


  2. I can relate very well to the problem having experienced more than once or twice postal theft. Now for parcels I use UPS and do not have to worry about things being stolen. The worst part of having your mail stolen by postal workers is the impossibility of getting it resolved, since I found they just pass the buck and would not even admit to which postal station had it last. It was not always like this in Canada, but thanks in large part to their union it is almost impossible to get rid of the bad apples.

  3. Service at UPS can be crappy. They just lost a set of books I ordered from the U.S. Sure, I will get my money back; but it was an antiquarian set. Will be VERY hard to replace. Unless you are a bibliophile like myself, you will not understand

  4. I really have to question my faith in Canada Post.

    One week ago, I dropped off an item being shipped to Australia. It was being shipped "Air Mail Small Packet", so there was no tracking on it. Yesterday, I received a call from someone in Toronto (I am north of Toronto) saying the package was delivered to them by mistake. They indicated it arrived open, but my phone number was printed on the pre-paid mailing label.

    I immediately contacted Canada Post and they were able to open a ticket to refund the postage paid so resending it would not cost extra. All seemed good, but I did wonder how every Canada Post employee, down to the carrier who delivered it to a Toronto address, could miss "AUSTRALIA" in the address (not to mention the 4-digit numeric-only postal code!).

    Today, I was able to pick-up the mid-delivered package. Nothing was missing from it, but the package was ripped as I was told on the phone. The individual was visiting someone near my location, so I did not have to go far and I wanted to offer something for his troubles. He asked if I had ten bucks for gas, which was not unreasonable. However, not having any cash on me, I offered to put some gas in his car at the corner gas station and I could charge it. He said his car wouldn't start, so that wouldn't work (and I wondered how the cash would help his car to start!). I even offered to walk to the gas station and borrow/buy a container to get him some gas, and that was turned down. He eventually gave up, but not without trying to make me feel guilty about not giving him something for his troubles.

    This leaves me wondering if there is somebody out there stealing mail (could be him, or someone he knows who works for Canada Post) and calling the sender claiming it was delivered to them by mistake in the hopes of getting some cash.

    What really pisses me off is that I called Canada Post back to find out if I could speak with their security department. Whether they would pursue this or not would be up to them, but instead of passing me to their security department, all they could do was put a note in the file of my case. That was because it was not a tracked item.

    Is it any wonder non-tracked items are open-season for would-be thieves?