I think it’s pretty obvious by now that most government-involved organizations are some of the least efficient and productive companies in the world. Private businesses are run with the goals of strong production, cost effectiveness and decent customer service. Canada Post is a perfect example of a Crown Corporation that badly needs to be completely privatized.
Without even taking into account the dysfunction and lack of foresight provided by the past executives for this floundering company, I need only point to current events and my own personal experiences. Their knee-jerk reaction to soaring costs and lost revenue was to raise the price of a single stamp from 65-cents to 85-cents in 2014, followed by redefining the way they charge for shipping packets and parcels. After that, they were out of ideas so they decided to phase out home delivery and put mail carriers out of work. Genius!
For those of us who sell on Ebay or some other online marketplaces, shipping is an important part of the equation. When they realized how badly they dropped the ball by not incorporating technology quicker or finding ways to generate revenue in an e-mail world, they did what they do best: increase rates. Not only did they increase rates and eliminate any existence of economy-priced shipping, they insisted parcels have a MINIMUM size. That’s right, if you go into the post office to ship something, you could be told your package is too small (some of us have been told that in much more awkward situations).
Recently, I tried to ship a small package (measuring 3″ x 5″ x 1″ thick and weighing 0.133 kg) to a local address (a total distance of 9.3 kms) for which I had budgeted $5.00 based on previous transactions. The item was placed on the size-chart and I was informed it needed to go into a shipping bag (for $1.50) because there wasn’t enough room for a postal label (she refused to use the back of the item). Correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t letter stamps managed to stay the same size for 200 years even as rates have increased? Apparently their crack research team hasn’t been able to come up with a “stamp” sized label for packages (then again, why would they when they couldn’t charge for the bag?). To add to the insanity, she held the package to the tiny little mail slot on the end of the size-chart to show me it was too thick to be a ‘packet’ and would have to be classified as a ‘parcel’ (I don’t know what that mail slot is based on, but unless a lot of people are having cheese slices mailed to them, it seems a little narrow). So, in addition to the extra $1.50 in shipping bag costs, the item was tagged with a local shipping charge of $9.25. I could literally feel my blood pressure rising. This little Ebay item was going to cost almost $11.00 in total shipping. I had no words. I have shipped dozens of similar items to the western United States for barely more than $12.00 but this was going to cost $10.75 to go 9 kms? Suffice to say, I refused the service and delivered it myself, dropping it effortlessly through the mail slot in the front door of the house (wide enough for a cheese sandwich).
Why not use another courier company? Excellent question. Purolator Courier is a very well known and popular one. It is also 91% owned by…Canada Post! They decided it was more lucrative to invest in a competing company than to fix the problems they had so in 1993 they became majority owner. So, when it gets too expensive to ship with their regular service, they hope that you walk over to the nearest Purolator office. Ownership aside, these large courier companies are meant more for larger expedited packages and guide their services towards quick and convenient which comes with a higher price tag.
There has been a long-standing call for privatization of Canada Post citing the postal services in the UK, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands and New Zealand which have all gone private and are flourishing. I know there are many hard working men and women at Canada Post and the last thing I ever want is for people to lose their jobs but it is usually an automatic side effect of restructuring corporations. Implementing the proper technology would certainly eliminate some of the postal plant jobs but with the money put into the right places, there would be no need to eliminate home delivery at the same pace and keep many mail delivery people on the job. As for those of us who use their services on a regular basis, it would keep our blood pressure down, even if we have small packages.