Dancing with Canada Post

OK, it’s time for a little substantive information here based on my conversations with Canada Post. I made careful notes during these conversations, so everything here is based on those notes and, bizarre as some of them sound, I have not made up anything.

One thing is clear to me: The people I have been talking to either honestly do not know what is going on, or they know but have been instructed not to tell the customers anything. I cannot get the name or contact information for anyone higher up the ladder, and despite repeated promises that my concerns would be made known further up the ladder and that I would be called if there was any new information, I have yet to receive a call from anyone at Canada Post that was not the direct result of a message I’ve left for my main contact.

I have spoken to two people at Canada Post in Richmond, and one person at a call centre. I tried to speak to a third person in Richmond, but apparently that person was sick at the time and so my message was given to one of the other two people I had already talked to. It was my understanding that this third person was the direct superior of the other two, but I’ve been assured that this third person is as much in the dark about what is happening, why it’s happening and what the plan for the future is as the two people under him. (I apologise for the awkwardness of not using names, but these are representatives of Canada Post and, for now at least, I’m not interested in pointing fingers and saying, “He/she said…”.) There have been several references in conversations to “delivery services officers”, but I have not been able to speak to any of these mythical people, and they seem to refuse to give any information to the people that I have been talking to.

Some of the quotes below offer some interesting insight into the way people at Canada Post think, and are worth reading on their own without my interpreting them and putting things into my own words.

The first inkling

This story starts several months ago, before the official notice that the Airport Postal Outlet was closing down. On Friday, October 31st, 2008, I tried to renew my mail box at the retail outlet on Westminster Highway near the intersection with Number Three Road. As any “retail” customer of the APO will know, the management of the boxes at the APO has been problematic (to put it politely) for years, as the APO seems to be the bastard child (to put it not-so-politely) that nobody wants to take any responsibility for. On this particular occasion, however, there was a new twist: The computer system would not allow my box to be renewed because, apparently, it wasn’t in the system. A helpful clerk eventually suggested that I leave a cheque and she would somehow manually renew my box later in the day. I did so, and she was successful. A computer-generated receipt was later delivered to my mail box.

However, before I left, this clerk told me that Canada Post are “trying to close down the airport boxes”, something that was news to me. So I then went to the “Richmond delivery centre” at the corner of River Road and Cambie to get more information. I was told that the person who would be able to answer my questions was not there, so I was given that person’s phone number. That person is the person I have since talked to the most about this issue, even though, ironically, he is not in charge of the retail customers.

Reasons for the closure

You can read the quotes below for the streams of consciousness in which the following reasons are contained:

Select items from my notes, presented as-is rather than trying to weave all of this into a long and boring narrative

I’m just going to present these notes pretty much verbatim from the notes I made during and after the phone conversations I’ve had with Canada Post. As you can see, they are rife with contradictions in certain areas. If something doesn’t make sense to you, please remember that this is not a mistake on my part, but just that I am reporting exactly what I’ve been told at different times. I have bolded some of the more consistent inconsistencies.

You’ll also see a constant refrain here, summarised as follows: “I’m just as much in the dark as you are. I don’t know what’s going to happen.” I find it truly amazing that a corporation the size of Canada Post cannot articulate what their plans are mere weeks from now.

Friday, October 31st, 2008:
Thursday, November 6th, 2008:

“My personal recommendation to you would be to get a box somewhere else. That’s my personal recommendation.” Later he upgraded that to a “strong recommendation”.

“It is under-utilised, I don’t know what the future is for the kiosk. There is issues like after 9/11… I don’t know how are we going to be delivering the airport? Are we not? With the Olympics coming along, I don’t know what the RCMP, what stand they will take. Would they want the kiosk there? Is it, you know, is it dangerous to have it there? So there’s all sorts of problems surrounding this right now. So, again, as I said, I’m not… I don’t want to give you any false promises. I can say yes, you’re good for another year, but, what’s going to happen after that, I don’t know. And the reason I’m sharing this information with you is maybe you should, as I said, think of another location or something that works best for you because, if worst comes to worst and RCMP and Vancouver Airport Authority agree on this and they say, ‘Oh it’s dangerous and we don’t want any mail going close to the airport during the Olympics or in the future,’ if that’s what they agree upon then it means that we will have to follow their demand and… I don’t know whether we’re going to demolish it or what’s going to happen.”

“With the new computer system that kicked in about four months ago, the directive that I’ve received from head office now is they want us to assign physical addresses to all these customers, at least for the 70 customers that are left at the kiosk, because the new system does not recognise PO boxes. Which is funny… I mean, this is information I’m just sharing with you. […] I don’t know who designed the software, the new software does not recognise PO boxes, and that’s what I’ve been told from Ottawa, and I can confirm that on my computer’s screen here.”

“This land has only Vancouver Airport Authority. Therefore City of Richmond cannot assign any addresses. So we’re fighting with Vancouver Airport Authority right now to see what we can do. Can we get a civic address? What’s going to happen with respect to the Olympics? What the RCMP has to say about all this? And whatnot and whatnot and whatnot. If it was easy as… if I’m dealing with the City of Richmond and I have a new building coming up and I say, ‘Hey, I need a civic address for this building,’ and they say, ‘OK, there’s your address,’ done deal. I don’t worry about that. But the City of Richmond would not assign addresses at the airport. It’s federal land, and only Vancouver Airport Authority has authority out there. So I’m in between two different bodies and I’m trying to orchestrate that, and it’s taking a lot of my time. I mean, I’ve been working on this for quite a few months now. And people… my managers are getting anxious. We want to solve the problem.”

Thursday, April 16th, 2009:

“At some point things went overboard and boxes were getting rented there [presumably to people who are not airport tenants], etc., etc. Right now there’s no mail delivery at the airport at all, and we found ourselves in a big mess. The intention here is to fix all this.”

“Since you do not belong at the airport,” I should choose a mail box at another postal outlet.

“Also there’s other issues with respect to security at the airport. With the Olympics coming along, do they want to have people there wandering around with parcels and mail delivery, or not?”

Will have to change my address for sure, “because those numbers will disappear.”

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009:

“My interpretation of it is….”

“Not going to provide delivery to the airport anymore.”

Advising people that they must rent a mail box from a retail outlet. “That’s the proper way.”

Thursday, April 30th, 2009:

“Are they going to put a new site up there? Very good possibility. At this point I have no such information.”

“At this point, still, I don’t have any confirmation from Delivery Services telling me this is what’s happening. I’m still left in the dark, pretty much, and so are my customers.”

“Personal contact items are not deliverable at the airport.”

“Right now Canada Post is executing… we have started a modernisation project of Canada Post. So right now, at this point, the new system, for whatever reason, which seems really stupid to me, I mean, I know it’s going to sound stupid, but for whatever reason, the computer system that they have designed, I don’t know who that is, which company, whatever, it would not be able to take PO boxes anymore. So for this address there, at the kiosk, right, like at the airport, we don’t have an option to put those boxes into the system. […] But, as I said, the system doesn’t recognise it. It absolutely blows my mind.

“The answer I got was no so, I didn’t want to… I mean, I’ve asked questions several times, then, there comes a point that, you know, I shouldn’t be asking anymore. So, that’s what it is, and as I said, I mean, sounds really stupid, absolutely, but there’s nothing I can do at this point.”

Friday, May 8th, 2009:
Conversation with someone in Richmond:

“We’re just left completely in the dark.”

Conversation with customer service at a call centre somewhere:

“He [the retail business manager] probably knows what the answer is, but just doesn’t want to give you what the answer really is because you probably wouldn’t like it.”

Told him that I’ve been told that one of the reasons for the closure is that there is a modernisation programme and that all PO boxes are being eliminated as a result. His response: “Wow! OK, that’s not true. I can tell you the last one’s not true. That doesn’t make any sense. I don’t know why we’d get rid of PO boxes. That’s kind of backwards. […] It sounds like everybody there has absolutely no idea what’s going on which, kind of doesn’t surprise me at the same time.”

“What I’ve done… the fact that you’re only given a month notice… which I completely agree with you is not the greatest. I get that. I don’t understand why they do this, especially to someone whose had the box for any length of time, like it’s… can’t say like you’re like, ‘Hey, you have a month, go and change absolutely everything you’ve ever dealt with,’ … which is kind of ridiculous. So I’ll forward this onto someone, and I’ll put in the notes that you have been talking to the retail business manager and that he’s clueless as to what’s actually going on.”

Conversation with someone in Richmond:

“There’s no one else to talk to.”

“Right now it’s all talk. […] There was rumours, right… I cannot confirm this because, as I said, it’s not laid out in stone, right… there was rumours that they going to put up another site at the same place, where the kiosk is.”

“This has been going on, believe me, this has been going on for a while, right. They’re been going back and forth with Vancouver Airport Authority. It’s not… there’s lot of people involved. There’s security people involved. There’s Vancouver Airport Authority involved. There’s Olympics coming along. They’re worried about security. Where is this mail going to go? Where is those personal-contact items going to go? Etc., etc.”

Phone conversations

This is a list of phone conversations I have had, not counting messages left:


All of the above is for the record. There is no conclusion yet, other than that I can conclude that Canada Post either doesn’t know what they are doing, or they do know what they are doing but refuse to tell their customers what is going to happen to their mail delivery come June 1st.

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