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.