The stonewalling continues

I like to be charitable. I like to believe people. I like to trust people when they tell me something. This, perhaps, is why I find myself in the situation today where the Airport Postal Outlet has only two business days left to live, and yet we have no meaningful answers from Canada Post or recognition of their customers’ legitimate concerns. I trusted the people I spoke to weeks ago when they told me that other Canada Post customers were unhappy with the situation, and they were working on a plan. I trusted them when they said at one point that a final decision was going to be made “tomorrow” and that they’d call me to let me know what that decision was. They never called.

But now I realise that I was being strung along. How naïve could I be?! Each day they strung me along brought them another day closer to this being a fait accompli. And the stringing along — or stonewalling — continues even today. After what seemed to be the start of a promising dialogue with someone different at Canada Post, I received the following response to my email posted earlier:

Good afternoon Mr. Hartnett, Xxxxx is away from the offifce [sic] for the remainder of today as well as tomorrow and I am her assistant checking her emails in her absence.  Please provide a telephone number for her to contact you, or contact her directly in her office on Friday.  Xxxxx’s number is 604 273-xxxx.

I’m still being charitable in shielding these individuals by blocking out their names, email addresses and telephone numbers! Perhaps it’s because I believe there is still time for Canada Post to do the right thing.

So after ending my email this morning with, “Given the looming deadline, I would appreciate it if you could respond to my points above with haste, preferable [sic] early this afternoon. Thank-you”, I’m told to wait two days for a response. I realise I’m not the only customer that Canada Post has; however, it was Canada Post that chose to give a minimal amount of notice, it was Canada Post that decided to ride roughshod over their customers, and it was Canada Post that didn’t respond to customer concerns. You reap what you sow.

Setting up this website seems to have advanced things slightly, but now things are not advancing quickly enough given the deadline imposed by Canada Post so I’m taking this outside Canada Post to see if can can advance things another way. Stay tuned.

May 27, 2009 • Tags:  • Posted in: Uncategorized • No Comments

Some “accommodation” from Canada Post

I’ve received the following email from an Airport Postal Outlet customer. Again, my response is below his email.

Date: Wed, 27 May 2009 11:46:29 -0700
To: Save the APO
Subject: Save-the-APO

Good Morning, Craig.

I just received a telephone call from Xxxxx Xxxxxxx at Canada Post. It seems they will be accommodating me with one of the community mailboxes at 5000 Miller Road! The change is being made today. …

No explanation other than they are going to be “accommodating” me. Xxxxx seems to be snowed as it appears like this may be a last minute decision.

Anyone else seeing this situation? If so, I congratulate you on your efforts on behalf of all of the APO box holders!!!


And my reply:

Hi Xxxxx,

Thanks for letting me know. Unfortunately, while it’s good news for you, it’s not for me. Xxxxx, with whom I have had numerous discussions over the last few months and who I’ve quoted extensively on the website, has not contacted me. I’ve just put up on the website an email from Canada Post and my reply to it. In it the person at Canada Post refers to “15 customers who were using a box at the kiosk, but should have been located at another CMB [community mail box] site at the YVR.” I’m assuming that these 15 customers are physically located at the airport. Are you, or is your office, physically located at the airport?

That said, despite the good news that you’re going to be “accommodated” — how generous of Canada Post! — my understanding is that your address will still have to change. This also leads me to assume that your office must be at the airport, and that your new address will be a suite number at 5000 Miller Road — again, based on what Xxxxx has told me about someone (can’t remember who off the top of my head) wanting to convert people from box numbers at the APO to suite numbers (perhaps even a suite number the same as your box number) at a civic address.

I’d be interested to know whether or not your office is indeed located at the airport and whether or not your address will have to change. Thanks.


Email response from Canada Post, May 27th

I’ve had the following response from Canada Post. My reply is below it.

Subject: RE: Airport Kiosk
Date: Wed, 27 May 2009 12:39:40 -0400
To: “Save the APO”

Dear Craig,

I will do my best to provide context to the upcoming changes at the
kiosk. For several years, there have been numerous issues with
delivering mail to the kiosk that range from incorrect addressing to
unauthorized business/personal use of the boxes. My understanding is
that there have been attempts to rectify these problems, but frankly, it
has only been in the last year that we have been able to develop a
relationship with representatives of the YVR authority that is allowing
us to finally address the problems.

To begin, the boxes within the kiosk are outdated and are no longer
worth servicing. On June 1, the Corporation is replacing the old
equipment with new Community Mail Boxes (CMB) configured to provide
improved mail delivery service. The new CMBs have been installed.
These are being inspected today, and keys will be provided to the box
holders who are remaining at the site. The old equipment will not be
dismantled until the week of June 8. We have had discussions with YVR
about the potential of relocating the kiosk to a more suitable site;
however, due to the ongoing construction it is not feasible at this time
to identify another location.

As part of the Corporation’s business improvements, a new system has
been developed to capture addresses in the country. As a result,
addressing information at the kiosk must be changed. During the week of
either March 16 or 23, the Corporation delivered a letter to each box
holder advising them of the upcoming changes. There were 15 customers
who were using a box at the kiosk, but should have been located at
another CMB site at the YVR. These customers have been reassigned.
There were another 12 customers that were not entitled to a free mode of
delivery at the YVR and have been advised to arrange for a convenience
box located in the postal outlet at the YVR or another postal outlet.
All customers are being given six months of free redirection service.
This is ample time for customers to notify their correspondents of their
new mailing address. I am not certain which category you fall in;
however, I am assuming that you are a convenience box holder. As such,
if you have not arranged for alternate delivery (either return to your
free mode of delivery, or rent a convenience box at a Retail Postal
Outlet) and completed the Change of Address Form, then I will make
arrangements to have your mail held for pick up at the Richmond Delivery
Centre for a period of 10 days.

I hope this addresses your concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact
me should you wish to discuss this further. If you would like
additional information regarding convenience box rentals at the YVR or
in the Richmond area, please contact Kelvin Tung at 604.482.4030.


Here’s my reply:

Date: Wed, 27 May 2009 12:00:33 -0700
From: Save the APO
Subject: RE: Airport Kiosk

Hi Xxxxx,

Thanks for your reply. Let me see if I can summarise it and offer you some feedback which I hope you will find useful. However, the fact remains that Canada Post has carried out this change with almost complete disregard for its customers and, to make matters worse, has done so by providing a bare minimum amount of notice such that here we are two business days before the closure of the Airport Postal Outlet frantically trying to come to an understanding of each other’s positions.

1) “For several years, there have been numerous issues with delivering mail to the kiosk that range from incorrect addressing to unauthorized business/personal use of the boxes.”

I assume that Canada Post must deal with large volumes of incorrectly-addressed mail every day. This hardly seems like a valid reason to shut down one particular postal outlet and penalise those who, obviously, receive properly-addressed mail. Please explain what “unauthorized business/personal use of the boxes” is. What other use besides personal or business would there be? And if some use is unauthorised, why has Canada Post been allowing it? I don’t recall being asked, when I rented my box 18 years ago, what kind of use I was planning to make of the box, and I currently receive mail addressed both to me personally and to my company. Not once in 18 years has my use of the box been challenged.

2) “… it has only been in the last year that we have been able to develop a relationship with representatives of the YVR authority that is allowing us to finally address the problems.”

I am shocked to hear that, since the Vancouver Airport Authority came into being in 1992, it has taken these two organisations almost 17 years to form a working relationship. But again, I don’t see why this failure must mean that Canada Post’s customers must suffer.

3) “To begin, the boxes within the kiosk are outdated and are no longer worth servicing.”

My box works perfectly well, and I’m offended that Canada Post considers that it is not worth servicing, despite the fact that I’ve been paying Canada Post my hard-earned money for it to be serviced over the last 18 years.

4) “On June 1, the Corporation is replacing the old equipment with new Community Mail Boxes (CMB) configured to provide improved mail delivery service.”

Perhaps you could define “improved mail delivery service”. While there have been issues with the overall management of the APO over the years, I have not had a complaint about the mail delivery service and fail to see how it can be improved. People send me mail, it arrives in my box in a reasonable amount of time, and I pick it up. How can that process be improved, especially by completely eliminating the process? Please explain that logic.

5) “We have had discussions with YVR about the potential of relocating the kiosk to a more suitable site; however, due to the ongoing construction it is not feasible at this time to identify another location.”

I appreciate that construction might cause a problem with selecting a new site for the kiosk “at this time”. However, if Canada Post was committed to meeting the needs of its customers rather than cavalierly tossing some of them aside, some effort would be made to find a temporary location until a permanent one can be found. As the old saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” I am not qualified to negotiate leases on behalf of Canada Post and I am not aware of vacancy rates at the airport. However, there are several multi-tenant buildings at the airport, and the last time I drove past, the old cargo buildings in the 4000 block of Miller Road were virtual ghost towns, indicating the probable availability of cheap short-term leases for a temporary solution.

6) “As part of the Corporation’s business improvements, a new system has been developed to capture addresses in the country.”

I presume that this is the “modernisation project” that I have been told about that will “not be able to take PO boxes anymore”. (This quote is from the same Canada Post manager who calls this new system “stupid” and says, “It absolutely blows my mind.”) Again, whatever the reasoning behind this, it seems to completely disregard the wishes of Canada Post’s customers.

7) “There were 15 customers who were using a box at the kiosk, but should have been located at another CMB site at the YVR.”

Does this include Air Canada (boxes 23020, 23030, 23038, 23040 and 23200) and the Vancouver Airport Authority (box 23750)? What are your plans for delivery to these customers and will they be required to change their address to stop using their APO box numbers?

8) “There were another 12 customers that were not entitled to a free mode of delivery at the YVR and have been advised to arrange for a convenience box located in the postal outlet at the YVR or another postal outlet.”

I would replace the word “advised” with “told” or “ordered”. I would also emphasise that these customers are paying for their boxes, contrary to your implication that they are receiving free delivery. Additionally, if I wanted a mail box at a different location, I wouldn’t be a customer at the APO. On top of that, I chose the APO in 1991 because I expected it to be stable in contrast to mail boxes sold by private companies or mail boxes provided by retail postal outlets.

9) “All customers are being given six months of free redirection service. This is ample time for customers to notify their correspondents of their new mailing address.”

I agree that six months is ample time to inform correspondents of a new address. My point is that I should *not* have to inform anyone of a new address. That was the whole point behind getting a mail box from a stable company (Canada Post) in a stable location (Vancouver Airport). Additionally, there has been no mention of a refund for the time I will lose having paid for the rental of my box until October 1st.

You have failed to convince me that Canada Post’s action to close the APO and abandon some of its customers is justified. I am asking you to reconsider this decision. I am sure that the apparent low usage of the APO is the result of a concerted effort by Canada Post to make that a reality. If Canada Post engaged in a positive marketing campaign rather than a negative “anti-marketing” campaign — evidenced by the difficulty I had in renewing my mail box last year and being strongly advised by two managers to get a box elsewhere (one even telling me that it’s “the proper way”, whatever that’s supposed to mean) — then I’m sure that the APO could be a benefit to Canada Post’s bottom line.

If you, at your level in Canada Post’s hierarchy, are not able to revisit this decision, then I would ask that you refer me to someone else that can and send me that person’s contact information.

Given the looming deadline, I would appreciate it if you could respond to my points above with haste, preferable early this afternoon. Thank-you.

Craig Hartnett

May 27, 2009 • Tags:  • Posted in: Information from Canada Post • No Comments

Canada Post mandarins end 35 years of service

I would like to add to your thoughts that six months of mail forwarding for a business, let alone personal matters, is a totally insufficient offer in that it will mean new stationery, including for my own personal operations, labels and envelopes being wasted or marked up very unprofessionally and a significantly higher cost for a much smaller box – where one can be found which is easier said than done. To date I have not been able to locate one in Richmond at a reasonable distance from 5000 Miller Road.

Having been with this location through its many transmogrifications over 35 years including facing higher costs by having to go to a central location for mail pickup and yet still paying the same rate as one who got office delivery, I feel Canada Post is once again putting the bureaucrat ahead of customer service. Over the years we have been moved from pillar to post having to pick up special mail all over Richmond – from the 7-11 in the terminal to various off-site locations. Some box holders may have free or low cost boxes but I have been here from the early days of the AMF and have never been aware of other than standard pricing.

We are in total agreement that the issue is simply having some semblance of the box remain in operation – even, given the worst case scenario of it being off the airport. I don’t believe any of us live on Sea Island so I would accept an off site location although may not be happy about it. For business purposes as one who has used this address for 35 years having to change and notify everyone I deal with seems like an impossible cost. Some mail items only arrive every year – renewals of various items – and six months will simply not suffice for mail forwarding.

I, too, have no criticism of the staff who have serviced this location over the past number of years and feel for them being caught in the middle of this inconsiderate and unjust act of Canada Post’s well removed mandarins. This action is certainly not endearing me to the Canadian postal service. Since Canada Post is the major owner of Purolator should we not also stop using Purolator should the Box location be closed??? FedEx is certainly a viable alternative even if our money ultimately leaves Canada.

Brian C. Doutaz
Box 24140

May 26, 2009 • Tags: , • Posted in: Uncategorized • No Comments

Email from Canada Post

Seems Canada Post has taken notice of this website (as I hoped they would, of course), as I’ve received an email from the Manager, Western Zone, C&D Operations, Metro Vancouver. Hopefully I’ll have something new and coherent here soon.

May 26, 2009 • Tags:  • Posted in: Information from Canada Post • No Comments

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.

Still some weirdness

I did not reinstall everything over the weekend, but there is still some weirdness. I think it’s related to my adding about 400 users to the blog through the “back door”, so to speak, rather than adding them one at a time. However, I’m now posting as a “regular user” like everyone else and the important things that should be happening are happening, so hopefully things won’t fall off the rails. I’d rather spend less time posting about issues with the blog and more time posting on the issue of the APO itself, so my hope is that this will be the last post on technical issues for a while.

May 26, 2009 • Posted in: Administration • No Comments

Missing box numbers

Since I set this up I’ve had one person tell me that they couldn’t log in. It turns out that I didn’t know about that person’s box number, so hadn’t created a user name for them. In creating the users based on box numbers, I used the Canada Post postal code directory, and that person’s box number was not in there for some reason. (I didn’t create the list by writing down box numbers off the boxes themselves at the APO.) So, if you find that you can’t log in with your box number and postal code, please register and then I’ll upgrade your status so that you can post.

May 25, 2009 • Tags:  • Posted in: Administration • No Comments

Max Winter

Last week was the first I have heard about the closure, from your notice.
I will have to contact Mr. Tung to see what alternate locations are available.

May 24, 2009 • Posted in: Uncategorized • One Comment

Free ride

As a user of APO for over 30 years, I was distressed at the short notice that was given to vacate this address. Since the letter informing us of the imminent closure, no help has been given to let us know what other postal outlets there are in that area that we could transfer to.

On talking to other Postal Outlets, and since then some of the other users, I found out that many of the customers were not paying anything for their boxes, as grandfather rights from the old AMF. No wonder the Post Office wants to close it down.

At the same time, I have heard rumblings for many years that the Vancouver Airport Authority was going to close the employee parking lot across the street from the kiosk, and then extend the West Jet finger of the airport (Gates A), making it necessary to close the kiosk.

So here I am, one of the few paying customers, with no help from the Postal corporation.

My contract was up for renewal mid June, so I guess I’ll get no redirection of mail, as they only offered it till your contract expires.

Ask me if I am happy!!

May 23, 2009 • Posted in: Uncategorized • One Comment