Getting your mail at home is for suckers.
December 11, 2013 7:24 AM   Subscribe

 
I guess it's the final insult to people who have problems leaving their homes, who can't afford private package delivery, and who are on the wrong side of the digital divide.

This is also interesting because Canada Post's "losses" are accounting fictions. This is an attempt to break a visible front for unionized labour and rip us all off, period. For example, Purolator isn't being mentioned despite Canada Post's 91% ownership and large scale service integration. This move is attacking a prominent, cost-effective service in urban mail delivery despite the fact that rural mail what actually bears cost inefficiencies.

Ask yourself why Canada Post's management is making this announcement before the Christmas season: the busiest period for the corporation. There's no business logic, except that the management team is willing to eat a loss based on bad publicity in order to damage its seasonal business to justify this awful move, which of course disproportionately affects front line CUPW workers--that is, along with the elderly, people with disabilities, and people without computer skills.
posted by mobunited at 7:25 AM on December 11, 2013 [70 favorites]


mobunited: “I guess it's the final insult to people who have problems leaving their homes, who can't afford private package delivery, and who are on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

Oh, I doubt it. I know it's sometimes hard to have faith in those who are appointed guardians of the public trust, but for once we ought to extend them our confidence. This isn't the final insult. They will find a way to come up with more.
posted by koeselitz at 7:38 AM on December 11, 2013 [30 favorites]


Thanks, mobunited, for bringing that up. This move is horrible, absolutely horrible. The ramifications of its effects on the disabled, elderly, and poor will be catastrophic.
posted by Kitteh at 7:38 AM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Canada Post should make exceptions for seniors and persons with disabilities, surely. And the inevitable job losses are unfortunate. But it's worth keeping in mind that community mailboxes are great! They get people walking and provide a public space (for community posters and running into neighbors) sorely lacking in many neighborhoods. So there's a bright side.
posted by oulipian at 7:40 AM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the real issue is that Canada Post is supposed to self-fund its operations.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:51 AM on December 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Are community mailboxes a thing in Canada? I have lived in apartment complexes in the US where the mail was delivered to a large structure with a locked mail cubbby for each apartment, then larger doors underneath for packages, where the postal worker would leave the package and lock the key in the mail cubby. They are fairly inoffensive and they don't require much walking that you don't already have to do if you leave your apartment at all.

On the other hand, I am also picturing a mail kiosk maybe 3-5 blocks away, and that would be a different story.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:52 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do wonder if this will happen in the UK given the impending sell-off of Royal Mail. They've already cut deliveries from two to one a day a few years ago, and hiked up prices so much that there are now very few private sellers on eBay as they can't charge prices that will both get the item delivered and avoid being marked down for 'excess postage charges'. I know USPS had a large hike recently - it ended the days when it was cheaper for me to get fabric or craft supplies from the US rather than locally - and I imagine Canada Post are feeling similar pressures, but phasing out delivery entirely?

You can use private couriers here such as Hermes or Yodel if you want to pay less, but you need to know your way around the internet, have the means to pay via the internet such as PayPal or a credit card, and they're notorious for leaving parcels on doorsteps, in puddles, or not bothering to knock at all. If you're older, poor etc. it's not going to work for you.
posted by mippy at 7:54 AM on December 11, 2013


Interestingly, I was at a postal outlet (not a franchise) the other day for the first time in a long while to mail a letter.

The place was like something out of Ford Nation - a large portrait of the Queen, another photo of Prince... Andrew...? Harry...? Who's Diana's kid who got married and had the baby with the SIL with the nice ass?

Anyway, so the post office is covered with royal kitsch (a new thing in my experience) and the walls are also adorned with prints of Canadian soldiers wearing regimental dress. You can buy the prints if you like.

All the place needed was a Tim Horton's franchise.

It's Harper's Canada all right.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:54 AM on December 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Having a mailbox at the end of your street kind of makes sense (and rural Canadians already have this). The price hike on the stamp is inexcusable. Especially given that mail delivery to post office boxes within Toronto isn't done the next day.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:55 AM on December 11, 2013


They lost all my corporate business during the last work stoppage and I've not gone back. Once I started using a viable, reliable, reasonably priced alternative for all my corporate needs, I saw no reason to give them back my business. I can get guaranteed next day delivery for a fraction of the cost, as well as traceable letter service that takes up to five days for around the price of a stamp.
posted by gman at 7:56 AM on December 11, 2013


Are community mailboxes a thing in Canada?

Our mail is delivered to such a location. It's a pain in the ass because at least once a week the postie delivers us mail meant for a neighbour.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:56 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


When you have a service that's typically owned by and run by the government such as health care or the postal service, you always have a faction of people who will complain because it "runs at a net loss", because they're only looking at the operating budget of that organization. They fail to realize that the net social benefit of say, giving urbanites access to an essential service necessary for survival, outweighs any budget deficits.
posted by triceryclops at 7:57 AM on December 11, 2013 [23 favorites]


Another aspect that concerns me is the definition/criteria for community mailboxes. Where? If not in your immediate neighbourhood, will they be accessible for carless folks? And how about hours? Will they be open for people who don't work a 9-5 job? And how about packages from online orders? Will I be forced to have a Purolator account in order to receive them safely at home?
posted by Kitteh at 7:58 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is a loss of service but one curious side effect of community mail boxes is that they actually foster community. People meet their neighbours and talk to them. When I go back to the suburb I grew up in I am always struck by how it is a human desert where you can walk for hours and only see a few people. Other than when you shovel your driveway and mow your lawn you don't really see or talk to your neighbours. It was weird to live in a moderately densely populated area and feel as isolated as rural life. The new subdivisions with mailboxes actually countered this a bit by having this one small coincidental meeting place.
posted by srboisvert at 7:59 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where?

At the end of your street or the entrance to your subdivision, if they're like the ones I've seen in cottage country and Atlantic Canada.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:01 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Our mail is delivered to such a location. It's a pain in the ass because at least once a week the postie delivers us mail meant for a neighbour.

Well, yes, but that happens in my apartment building, too. Heck, it happened when I lived in a house. What I was hoping to find out (which wasn't clear to me from the story) are these community mailboxes within meters, a block, or blocks of most recipients.

Of course, a big part of the problem is that private mail businesses are allowed to use roads and postal systems created by government agencies without paying any charges. So they have been able to parasitize all the really profitable parts of mail delivery while leaving the cost centers to the public. Sound familiar?
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:02 AM on December 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Are community mailboxes similar to the Amazon Locker scheme I've seen around?
posted by mippy at 8:04 AM on December 11, 2013


I'm not entirely surprised. Having grown up in a rural area and getting my mail from a post office about 20 minutes' drive from my home, I sort of see this as making the urban service pretty much the same as rural. I'm more irritated by the increase in stamp prices.
posted by Kurichina at 8:06 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


But it's worth keeping in mind that community mailboxes are great!

I live in a secure apartment building and still the mailboxes have been broken into twice this year. Moving them out into a public space seems risky to say the least in a City with rampant petty crime like Vancouver.
posted by Hoopo at 8:08 AM on December 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


New single family subdivisions have had community boxes for 25 years in Canada.

The real fight is going to be whose yard are they going to appropriate to install the box?
posted by Keith Talent at 8:13 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I sort of see this as making the urban service pretty much the same as rural. I'm more irritated by the increase in stamp prices.

Of course, rural mail service is much much more costly to provide than urban. I notice they didn't seem to have numbers for the average cost for rural delivery; have they considered doing away with rural and suburban delivery? I bet that would save a lot of money....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:14 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I live in a secure apartment building and still the mailboxes have been broken into twice this year. Moving them out into a public space seems risky to say the least in a City with rampant petty crime like Vancouver.

^This.^

In urban areas like Vancouver or Toronto, I can't imagine these won't immediately become targets for enterprising folk.
posted by Kitteh at 8:15 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


WHERE IS YOUR SOCIALISM NOW?








A: It's trudging through slush to get the mail, that's where.
posted by Mister_A at 8:18 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are community mailboxes similar to the Amazon Locker scheme I've seen around?

No. those were owned by Amazon and placed in secured, staffed, retail locations as far as I'm aware.

All subdivisions I've visited in the US that were built or 'upgraded' to community mail box service have had about four "package" boxes per 20 mail boxes. They were big enough for a couple of shoe boxes, but not for most of the standard medium or larger packages I've gotten in the mail recenlty. They probably are the right size for standard US Postal Service official Priority boxes.

And people don't pick up their mail or packages often, so there's a lot of mail cramming and knocks on the door from grumpy postal workers.
posted by tilde at 8:19 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"That's a huge cost savings and it's those kinds of things that we want to see come to fruition," she told CBC News.

Modern management mentality. It's too expensive to fulfill our actual fucking mission. Our job is an expense. It's a wonder they can tie their own shoes.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:21 AM on December 11, 2013 [24 favorites]


Maybe it's ok if some parts of civilization cost money
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:32 AM on December 11, 2013 [70 favorites]


Maybe it's ok if some parts of civilization cost money

BURN THE WITCH
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:34 AM on December 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


I've had a community mailbox everywhere I've lived in Canada for the past 25 years. Our current one is about 50ft from the front door of my house. I can send letters by dropping them in the "outgoing" slot, and there are multiple lockers for packages. When we get a package, the key for the package locker shows up in our mailbox, and we return the key by putting it in "outgoing" slot. For anything too large for the package locker, Canada Post just drops it on our doorstep, or (if it requires a signature) leaves a note to pick it up at the local post office (also in walking distance). I have zero problems with the changes, except I think they should give a seniors or disability discount on stamps.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:39 AM on December 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Are community mailboxes a thing in Canada?

They are, and in most newer suburban neighbourhoods (like where I live) mail delivery was set up that way from the start. I moved here from a place that had traditional to-the-door mail delivery, and I don't find it terribly inconvenient or anything.

The community mailboxes are fairly numerous. I'm almost exactly between two, and it takes me about a minute to walk to mine. However when they first started using this approach, they were farther apart and there were more complaints about how far away the mailbox was.

I do like that it is actually easier to receive small packages in a secure way, where they leave the package in a large sized mailbox and then put the key to it in yours. That's about the only way in which it's actually better, though.
posted by FishBike at 8:41 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is a loss of service but one curious side effect of community mail boxes is that they actually foster community. People meet their neighbours and talk to them.

I have a community mailbox at my apartment, and I can report that that has never happened to me ever.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 8:50 AM on December 11, 2013 [29 favorites]


Now that I think about it this probably doesn't apply to apartment buildings (each already has hundreds of mailboxes in one location in their mailrooms), but would more likely apply to neighbourhoods like Vancouver's West End where a number of individual houses are located in an urban centre. I guess that's not so bad. As long as the mailboxes are well-lit and sheltered I guess, and the police swing by regularly.

I have a community mailbox at my apartment, and I can report that that has never happened to me ever.

We have a mailroom, can confirm. You will have better conversations in the elevator.
posted by Hoopo at 8:51 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would make more sense if they stopped daily delivery/pickup, and moved on to a semi-weekly delivery schedule and cut their mail carrier load substantially.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:54 AM on December 11, 2013


It would make more sense if they stopped daily delivery/pickup, and moved on to a semi-weekly delivery schedule

Doesn't make any sense if you're a business.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:58 AM on December 11, 2013


You can use private couriers here such as Hermes or Yodel if you want to pay less, but you need to know your way around the internet, have the means to pay via the internet such as PayPal or a credit card, and they're notorious for leaving parcels on doorsteps, in puddles, or not bothering to knock at all.

I was waiting for a parcel yesterday and I opened the door when I heard the sound of the 'Sorry we missed you' note falling on my floor. The Hermes courier didn't even pretend he had knocked.
posted by ersatz at 8:59 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


This sucks.

I hate those community mailbox things and I was hoping to never live in a community where I had to use one. They reek of car-oriented suburbia to me. In that environment, I'm sure they're convenient - just pull over on your way home and pick up the mail.

But if you're not driving everywhere, or for example you live on a street grid and there are many routes you could be taking to get to your house, you would have to go out of your way to get your mail.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:02 AM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


> Doesn't make any sense if you're a business

I'm not a business, but some of my best friends are. Semi-weekly could be restricted to residentials, and those who are operating businesses out of their homes can go to the post office.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:04 AM on December 11, 2013


Now that I think about it this probably doesn't apply to apartment buildings (each already has hundreds of mailboxes in one location in their mailrooms), but would more likely apply to neighbourhoods like Vancouver's West End where a number of individual houses are located in an urban centre.

Lots of apartment buildings in the West End still have door-to-door delivery.
posted by junco at 9:04 AM on December 11, 2013


Lots of apartment buildings in the West End still have door-to-door delivery.

Lucky stiffs, here I am pickin up my mail in the lobby like a sucker
posted by Hoopo at 9:06 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not a business, but some of my best friends are. Semi-weekly could be restricted to residentials, and those who are operating businesses out of their homes can go to the post office.

Community mailboxes are a better solution than cutting back delivery days but keeping delivery to the door.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:07 AM on December 11, 2013


All the cool postal services are doing it!
posted by jferg at 9:07 AM on December 11, 2013


Community mailboxes are a better solution than cutting back delivery days but keeping delivery to the door.

Tell it to the elderly, pal.
posted by Jairus at 9:09 AM on December 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Jesus. I'm in Vancouver where at least the main issue will be people breaking in to them ad nauseam. Well that and issues for anyone with mobility problems. In cities with much tougher climates are they really expecting the elderly and infirm to make their way to these things in the bleak mid-winter?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:13 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]




Normally I abhor cuts to public services under the guise that said service needs to cover its own expenses.... but I don't get all the outrage on this. Look, the amount of real meaningful mail has severely declined and that is only going to continue. With less volume, you then have to make up for that loss of revenue either by raising the price of stamps (which will only serve to dissuade people from sending mail) or subsidizing it through taxation/gov't funds. Neither are fun options.

Now, I do think having a functioning publicly owned postal system is a Good Thing. But does that mean we should pay for the level of service of door to door delivery? At some point-and we may very well have reached it- the expense of this service for delivering such little mail just isn't worth it. Instead, you have some sort of community mailbox down the block where everyone gets their mail. Make exceptions for the disabled or elderly, and everyone else can just take a short stroll to get their mail.

So, we give up the ever increasingly expensive luxury of door-to-door delivery and walk a block to get the mail. I fail to see how this is an unreasonable arrangement.
posted by boubelium at 9:14 AM on December 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Tell it to the elderly, pal.

It's almost like voting for the Tories has unforeseen consequences!
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:14 AM on December 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's almost like voting for the Tories has unforeseen consequences!

Anyone who voted Conservative will blame this on the unions, don't you worry.
posted by Jairus at 9:15 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know what to say. This is... stunning. It's going to make life a lot harder for everyone, including me. Holy crap.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:16 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


At first glance this seemed like an insane proposal: what the fuck could Stephen Harper be thinking?!
Then I realized, most of their base lives in community-mailbox suburbia anyway. Home delivery doesn't matter to them, personally, so being conservatives why should they care so long as they save a nickel on their taxes?
It's just another fuck-you to the cities and the ridings that vote Liberal or NDP.
posted by Flashman at 9:17 AM on December 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I still can't believe it. This just seems so ridiculous, it's like the water company announcing that they're switching to community fountains, or the government going back to town criers. Aren't things supposed to get more efficient with time? This isn't progress.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:25 AM on December 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ugh. I bought my house specifically so I could have proper home delievery. And a few months ago when my regular delivery person retired they switched my whole neighbourhood to a "new service delivery" model where the mail can be dropped off at any time and is usually delievered via truck - like literally, the delievery person zooms up in his truck - runs to my mailbox then runs back to his truck and zooms off. Later in the day I will see another delivery person running between houses as he tries to get his mail delivered (I am using male pronouns because I have not seen a female delivery person in a while). It looks like they are running their staff ragged. I live in a pretty dense, century-old, downtown neighbourhood. I literally cannot imagine where they would put the super boxes around here. Most of the streets don't even have sidewalks, even the one that the children's park is on! (We are a very walking community and people walk in the road and cars just drive slow). I imagine there are rules for the maximum distance allowed for superboxes, but I have seen quite a few in suburbs that are loooong walks; as well as anecdotes from friends that have missed very important deadlines because they didn't have time in their day to go to the superboxe for severaldays running.

I agree it is about union-busting and disrupting the social fabric; after all, this was a service provided to all just a short while ago and now it has been eroded and eroded so that only the people that can afford to pay for purolator or UPS can get items delievered to their home.
posted by saucysault at 9:25 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's just another fuck-you to the cities and the ridings that vote Liberal or NDP.

Yeah, I had this thought as soon as I posted my comment above.

I still think the community mailboxes are the less-bad thing, and that the USPS should probably move toward them, especially in rural areas. The price shock on the stamps (up by more than a third? seriously?) is just unconscionable. Once the rate increase goes through, it will be more expensive to mail a two-ounce/60g letter to Toronto from within the city than from Honolulu.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:25 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a community mailbox in the development where I live, and it's not terrible or anything. They're all within a very short walk of the houses they serve (at most, you're looking at crossing the street and walking a third of a block), and it's convenient enough for envelopes and very small packages. Anything bigger than a paperback book is a crapshoot, though. It might be wedged into your box, forcing a tug-of-war (that might shred something) to get it out, it might be held at the oh-so-convenient post office for pickup, or if you're very very lucky and blessed with some sort of unicorn fart that morning, it might actually be dropped at your door.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:25 AM on December 11, 2013


Have they considered doing away with rural and suburban delivery?

I hope not. It's not really good business to spend time on options that are completely unrealistic.
posted by Kurichina at 9:26 AM on December 11, 2013


Is it just me, or is it suspicious that a crown corp that was profitable with almost no debt and a fully funded pension 5 years ago is now "bankrupt"?

Hell, Canada Post only posted its first loss since the '80s after that ridiculous lockout in 2011.

Also, Canada Post sets the standard of service. Couriers in Canada are going from bad to worse. You want to ship a few boxes totaling 100lbs from Vancouver to Toronto? It's cheaper to put those boxes on a pallet and pay for an LTL shipment than rely on UPS. Sure, it's absurdly wasteful to ship something where 25% of the weight is the pallet itself, but it sure is cheaper.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:31 AM on December 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Rural delivery, at least here in Ontario where I am, is not done by Canada Post staff. It is contracted out to people who drive their own vehicles and get paid minimum wage (I know a bunch of people that do it and that is what they tell me). I see them a lot on the back roads I drive, they usually drive half on the dirt shoulder of the road on the wrong side so they can drive and open the mailboxes at the same time. When I worked for StatCan I had to drop off a bunch of information to rural postboxes and several times I had owners chase me down because they thought I was one of the Canada Post contractors and they wanted to get the insurance information from them because they had knocked over their mailbox the day before (it wasn't me!). That must be a reoccurring problem.
posted by saucysault at 9:32 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fuck Stephen Harper.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:38 AM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mobunited, do you have any references to back up your assertion that their debt/deficit is the product of "accounting fictions"? And that those "fictions" are in any way invalid?
posted by Decimask at 9:38 AM on December 11, 2013


Community mailboxes are a better solution than cutting back delivery days but keeping delivery to the door.

Tell it to the elderly, pal.


COMMUNITY MAILBOXES ARE A BETTER SOLUTION THAN CUTTING BACK!
posted by jpe at 9:39 AM on December 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


As much as I complain about the Post Office (and that's all the time), it's even harder to rely on private couriers. I'm waiting for a package from UPS right now that was supposedly delivered on Monday, but they did their standard door ninja thing where they show up, don't ring the doorbell or knock, and then leave. Can't imagine them delivering anything essential.


"I have a community mailbox in the development where I live, and it's not terrible or anything. They're all within a very short walk of the houses they serve (at most, you're looking at crossing the street and walking a third of a block), and it's convenient enough for envelopes and very small packages."

I'm glad your community mailbox is conveniently located, but if recent history is anything to go by this will absolutely not be the case for anything done by Canada Post. If it's anything like when they took away the boxes for sending mail a couple of years back, they'll put the new ones in the most out of the way or extraneous locations they can find. Like there'll be two boxes at the local mall (accessible only by car), but no boxes on rural streets. Or maybe there'll be a box by the side of a major road, but only in a spot that doesn't get shoveled in the winter.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:40 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was listening to an interview with a Canada Post employee (a shop steward) just now on the always excellent CBC 690 (about 10K times better than expensive television), and the employee mentioned that Canada Post generates more revenue and profit than it did back in 1999 (presumably his numbers were adjusted for inflation).

He said the real move here is to cut employees, and outsource (via the franchise model) to lower-paying employees. Essentially, he said, Canada Post will no longer replace its existing workforce. The corporation has stopped growing in terms of people, and will contract, which will have a long-term affect on the corp's business model.

I wondered if the steward had heard about plans to cut 8000 employees.

Tough times for labour in Canada at the moment. Heinz is shutting down in Ontario, Kellogg's is closing factories, Potash Corp is slashing its workforce, lumber mills across the Interior of BC are closing down...
posted by KokuRyu at 9:41 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Radio Noon Montreal is a thing to behold via your ears right now. The last phone call was from a professor in the city who asserted that the whole world is going electronic with everything these days and this is just a natural shift. "Soon everyone will get all their bills, newspapers, and payment online," he opined as he then went on to talk about he no longer gets his copies of the NYT and New Yorker in his mail anymore and he's all the better for it.
posted by Kitteh at 9:42 AM on December 11, 2013


The real fight is going to be whose yard are they going to appropriate to install the box?

In the suburbs you typically do not own the space between the sidewalk (if you have one) and the road as that is reserved for public utilities and business to run cables through. I imagine in divisions without the sidewalk there is still a strip of land between the road the homeowner's property but I don't know for sure - but those divisions as mentioned probably already have the community mailboxes.

So while people undoubtedly will complain they don't really have any rights in this situation.
posted by srboisvert at 9:46 AM on December 11, 2013


Quite honestly, all I get via Canada post these days are

1) CRA documents (I'm self-employed and so have to file HST/GST quarterly)
2) "Bulk" mail like promos and offers, and messages from my MLA, MP, and ward councillor
3) Lettermail addressed to my neighbours and previous residents

I don't do a lot of online shopping. I also hate getting paper bank and credit card statements because it is a pain in the ass to either store them or shred them, and I am very leery of identity theft from physical mail.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:47 AM on December 11, 2013


Canada Stephen Harper's Post to phase out urban home delivery
posted by benzenedream at 9:48 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good, the National Post is a piece of shit anyway.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:50 AM on December 11, 2013


On the bright side, the Canadian takeover of Metafilter is nearing completion. We seem to be getting daily threads from the true north.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:56 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Thanks, mobunited, for bringing that up. This move is horrible, absolutely horrible. The ramifications of its effects on the disabled, elderly, and poor will be catastrophic."

It's all part of modern Conservative doctrine. If you can't get to the community mailbox, then you didn't deserve that social security check anyway. Only the strong must survive in this New Wilderness.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:02 AM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


one more dead town's last parade: “I still think the community mailboxes are the less-bad thing, and that the USPS should probably move toward them, especially in rural areas. The price shock on the stamps (up by more than a third? seriously?) is just unconscionable. Once the rate increase goes through, it will be more expensive to mail a two-ounce/60g letter to Toronto from within the city than from Honolulu.”

I guess that the mention of "USPS" here was probably a typo, but – I just wanted to note that the US Postal Service isn't really in the same boat. Unlike the Canada Post, the USPS has been for many years funded entirely by the money it takes in through postage; and rises in postage have generally not been egregious, at least in my estimation – current price of a stamp in the US is 46 cents.

Personally, although I know it isn't popular and there are probably significant lobbies against it, I think the best way to deal with this is for the government to assert monopoly privileges over the market. If the Canada Post is the only way to get a package from point A to point B, they won't lose as much money. But I am not a Canadian, so I'm not sure if that would work there; I only know that it's technically Constitutional here in the US.
posted by koeselitz at 10:02 AM on December 11, 2013


Living in the US, one of the things I can say they actually do better than Canada is the mail. Possibly only because of Netflix DVDs and Amazon prime. Not to mention how weird it is that I can just leave a letter in my mailbox and it gets mail.

The quality of life difference that getting packages whenever I need them is actually a non-trivial reason why I'm staying in the US despite everything else.

Make exceptions for the disabled or elderly, and everyone else can just take a short stroll to get their mail

Just drive to your local DMV and go through an application process, pay a fee, and bring a fresh doctor's reference. And remember to confirm you're still disabled or old every six months or your exception will be revoked. Because fuck you - you're not actually supposed to use the 'exceptions'. They're just there to give a talking point to people who want to kill a public good.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:04 AM on December 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


(Oh and if you think I'm exaggerating, try and get discounted transit pass in San Francisco.)
posted by Space Coyote at 10:05 AM on December 11, 2013


It's all part of modern Conservative doctrine. If you can't get to the community mailbox, then you didn't deserve that social security check anyway.

The Government of Canada is phasing out checks by April 2016.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:06 AM on December 11, 2013


I'm gonna go get drunk, who cares if it's only 11AM. There's just no rational response to all this.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:11 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm off to stock up on permanent stamps!
posted by lizbunny at 10:11 AM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mobunited, do you have any references to back up your assertion that their debt/deficit is the product of "accounting fictions"? And that those "fictions" are in any way invalid?

Raitt has already admitted (see the link) that projections do not include pension and labour cost modifications. Furthermore, Canada Post owns a number of profitable enterprises such as Purolator. Postal service is a public service, so the notion that these should be segmented for business analysis purposes is a willful betrayal of its role as such.
posted by mobunited at 10:11 AM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dear World Governments,

Mail delivery is a service to your residents. Of course you won't make as much money as FedEx. The purpose of mail delivery is to get mail to your citizenry, not to make money. If you treat it as a business and start shutting down services, you will have a country that isn't capable of delivering information to its people.

PS. Do not shut off the water either.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:12 AM on December 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I really wish threads/tweets/news outlets about postal services didn't automatically reveal people's privilege, because boy howdy, you'd think just because Person A doesn't need/use Canada Post (or Royal Mail or USPS) they wouldn't think everyone else doesn't need to, either. It's fucking depressing.
posted by Kitteh at 10:16 AM on December 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


Our mail is delivered to such a location. It's a pain in the ass because at least once a week the postie delivers us mail meant for a neighbour.

For what it's worth, my mailman regularly delivers the wrong mail to me, and fucks up the books and magazines when he shoves them through the slot. I have had a shouting match in the street with him about this.

I think trying to maintain CP at its present size and configuration is insane. It needs to stop relying on junk mail for job security, and we need to get over the idea of having someone deliver a stack of waste every single day on the off chance that there's something useful in there. There's a lot of space to explore between the status quo and total evisceration of the postal system. A lot of ways to protect the rights of disabled or elderly people, while accommodating 21st century realities.

But if the Conservatives are doing it, we can assume that it's not going to be a fair, rational, creative solution to changing times, it's going to be an ideologically-driven bloodbath.
posted by klanawa at 10:19 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stephen Harper's Canada: It's fucking depressing.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:20 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


If anyone was wondering what these things look like

We've got a few in the block of apartments and townhomes I live in currently. It seems like there's one box per 12-18 homes, so its not terribly inconvenient (less than a fifty foot walk from the furthest point).

The one you linked looks like its been partially banished from the housing lot, like the modern looking wooden housing is an affront to the suburban themes of the houses themselves.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:26 AM on December 11, 2013


Well, I'm off to stock up on permanent stamps!

Take your coat, because you won't be back until the end of March! (And you'll be paying 85¢ anyway.)
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:32 AM on December 11, 2013


As someone disabled in the US, package delivery has been a god send in a way I would have never considered before. It was a convenience before, now it's a lifeline. Now in fairness, I have FedEx and UPS as options as well. But all deliver, and USPS's package pickup service has allowed me to make a little money selling stuff online.

I can't imagine that delivering only to the elderly and disabled would be very cost effective. Economy of scale and all that. Plus, you'd have the right coming up with ways of making qualifying more difficult, and stories of "delivery queens" somehow scamming the system.

The population is aging. That alone should make people think twice. Sure, if all of Canada were mild and warm but not too warm, maybe. It is good to get your population moving. But this is the North. Surely making grandma walk 2 blocks in icy, snow covered roads is a spectacular idea.

Also, does it really make sense to do this in urban areas? Surely the cost is rural and suburban delivery because of distances between residence. From here it looks like a big Fuck you to the poor, who are going to be disproportionately affected.

This is stupid, Canada.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:38 AM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Like so many things, this depends on the implementation. Some of these community mailboxes are OK - reasonably spaced and easy enough to walk to. Some are horrible, like in a nearby suburb, where all the mailboxes for 1200 people are located in one big lot, with the predictable result that many people drive to get their mail. I fear that, due to the difficulty and expense of securing many small locations versus one large one, we'll see much more of the latter.

That said, surely this is bound to happen sooner or later. There just isn't that much real mail being delivered any more, though obviously some people are outliers.
posted by ssg at 10:41 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one you linked looks like its been partially banished from the housing lot, like the modern looking wooden housing is an affront to the suburban themes of the houses themselves.

I don't really understand what you're saying here.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:43 AM on December 11, 2013


True story: I saw the link to this story on Facebook, saw the cbc.ca url, and figured, "Another friend suckered by This is That."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:47 AM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The population is aging. That alone should make people think twice. Sure, if all of Canada were mild and warm but not too warm, maybe. It is good to get your population moving. But this is the North. Surely making grandma walk 2 blocks in icy, snow covered roads is a spectacular idea.

We lived in a building where about half of the residents were on disability. There was one central mailbox in the foyer of the building. The townhouse complex where we live now has exterior mailboxes in a central location. There is a fellow with mobility challenges, but he has no problems (as far as I can see) with the location of the mailbox.

I think a lot of how these changes are implemented depends on how "barrier free" the existing housing is, and I would suspect these boxes will be located in a central location not far from one's house (just up the block?).
posted by KokuRyu at 10:55 AM on December 11, 2013


WTF Canada. I thought Purolator was an oil filter?
posted by caution live frogs at 11:01 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Everything is made of oil in Canada.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:02 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm off to stock up on permanent stamps!

The price of Canadian postage stamps going up is... news?

On the bright side, the Canadian takeover of Metafilter is nearing completion. We seem to be getting daily threads from the true north.

I'm doing my part!
posted by ovvl at 11:06 AM on December 11, 2013


There's a lot of money to be made here by private entities who get contracts to install those community postboxes. This is something that very much appeals to the Harper government and its cronies.
posted by grounded at 11:10 AM on December 11, 2013


I don't understand how this is even feasible. Where are they going to put them? I'm picturing downtown Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax. I've always lived in URBAN urban places, never suburban and there is no way that these community mailboxes will be as conveniently located as the newer community boxes in the burbs. In some older neighborhoods there is barely a sidewalk and no grass in front of the houses at all. For Americans, picture how this would work in the south side of Boston.

This is absolutely an attack on non-Harper citizens, on organized labour. It also continues the Harper ideological strategy of discontinuing cost-neutral services to Canadians. I can't count the amount of times I've heard bureaucrats say "It's not about the money." CISTI ran an interlibrary journal program at NO COST to Canadians and it was cut so that private industry could take over. Guess what? - costs shot up, quality is down and the whole thing was outsourced to an American company. Externalities like support for domestic research capacity were not important enough to keep this FREE to Canadians program, what hope do we have for a Crown Corp. that has been branded as "costly"?
posted by Gor-ella at 11:11 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Everything is made of oil in Canada."

If by oil you mean rendered seal blubber and bacon fat, then yes.

I'm going to write a letter to complain about this, and send it to somebody in the government. Maybe Lisa Raitt? Sending an email wouldn't really help to prove the point.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:12 AM on December 11, 2013


Mail delivery is a service to your residents. Of course you won't make as much money as FedEx. The purpose of mail delivery is to get mail to your citizenry, not to make money. If you treat it as a business and start shutting down services, you will have a country that isn't capable of delivering information to its people.

Why, next they will want to pay the armed forces with plunder, like back in the good old days horrible horrible past!
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:22 AM on December 11, 2013


I don't do a lot of online shopping.

This is truly one area where Canada Post is far better than any of the private options, including even their own Purolator service. Box delivery to home is one thing CP has nailed.

They deliver more reliably, and have a much better notification system. UPS, the poster child for terrible home service, requires at least one phone call to get them to stop trying to deliver, then a day's wait until you can actually pick it up, in an industrial yard with crappy parking half-way accross the city. CP tries to deliver once, then has the parcel automatically left at the nearest Shoppers that same evening.

CP has even been experimenting with 6 to 9 pm delivery times in Ottawa. This is an amazing service I really hope they continue.

CP has fast and cheap customs and brokerage services too. Brokerage fees are now only a few dollars. In contrast, UPS frequently changes up to 25%, even for multi-hundred dollar orders.

Fedex and Purolator aren't as ignorant as UPS when it comes to home delivery or customs charges, but nether is as convenient as the post.
posted by bonehead at 11:23 AM on December 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't understand how this is even feasible. Where are they going to put them?

I'm in Calgary, where there is more space in the inner city, but I'm imagining them next to parks and next to schools. They could also take over space formerly occupied by (outgoing) mailboxes, phone booths and newspaper boxes.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:25 AM on December 11, 2013


I have FedEx and UPS as options as well.

FedEx isn't as utterly terrible, but if my only option for a US purchase is UPS delivery, I'll frequently pass due to the very high expense I'll pay for their service. A USPS delivery option, on the other hand, makes me more likely to buy.
posted by bonehead at 11:30 AM on December 11, 2013


I'm struggling with the idea a bit. I'm in Calgary, and I'm making a guess where this would be located for me. It won't be a big deal to get to for us. But, given the number of elderly neighbours we have, and the winter storm we've just come through, I'm not seeing a lot of good outcomes here.

And the question I have - if Canada Post is so flipping inefficient, why does my Conservative MP use it to continually send me their self-congratulatory "newsletter"?
posted by nubs at 11:34 AM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just don't see where they are going to have room to put enough community mailboxes in the denser parts of Montreal (which has a lot of triplexes and sixplexes). On my block, which is a small block, there are about 50 individual front doors, plus one apartment building with one mail area for 8 apartments. Where is there room to put this? If I get a package delivered to my house, it goes to a store that is inconveniently located, not easily walkable, and has really poor hours for people who work. What about people who are elderly, or disabled, or temporarily housebound?

I'd be perfectly fine with twice weekly mail delivery -- even for packages -- and I still don't get why that option was never put on the table.
posted by jeather at 11:40 AM on December 11, 2013


Question for people who already use one of these -- what happens if more than one address has a parcel to pick up? Do all parcels get put in the same box? Isn't there an increased risk of lost packages as a result?

If so, who would be liable if a package was lost? The supplier has dispatched it, the postal service has delivered it, but the purchaser has not received it?
posted by apcmwh at 11:49 AM on December 11, 2013


Parcel deliveries will still arrive at the doorstep as they do now. If you are not at home (or you don't hear the stealthy knock of a postie) the parcel will be waiting for you at the local postal outlet.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:59 AM on December 11, 2013


Question for people who already use one of these -- what happens if more than one address has a parcel to pick up? Do all parcels get put in the same box? Isn't there an increased risk of lost packages as a result?

In the US, both at Post Offices (this service is only available to Post Office Box holders) and at community box stand, it's one parcel per locked box. Imagine a large unit about the size of a popcan machine; 4/5 of it are small mail boxes for letters and ads. The other 1/5 is divided up into several larger boxes with a key. They key is left in these larger locker boxes (like at the airport back in the day, or at the bowling alley) until the locker is filled by the postal person.

The package is put in the box, it is locked. The key is deposited in the corresponding home unit box.

If all the boxes are full, the item is taken back to the local dispatch hub (which might not be the nearest post office) and you have to pick it up during working hours.
posted by tilde at 11:59 AM on December 11, 2013


More often than not, in an urban setting Canada Post will set up a wall of boxes in your nearest convenience store/grocery store/pharmacy, so it's not as bad as it seems and is usually placed with consideration for the elderly. Mail still gets delivered, just not the last mile. I've already seen it in lots of places in Canada.

Me, I have to walk to the post office just like everyone else in my town, regardless of age, gender or location.
posted by furtive at 12:01 PM on December 11, 2013


When I moved from a community mailbox system to a home with door delivery (United States), I also inherited a postal worker who refused to make package deliveries and didn't knock for registered mail - just left the slips in the boxes to come to the post office, never packed them in the vehicle.
posted by tilde at 12:01 PM on December 11, 2013


Instead of raising the price of stamps, why not raise the prices for bulk mail? Legitimate mail should be inexpensive, make the spammers who send the mountains of crap I get every day pay more. Either the post will get more revenue for the spammers, or they'll stop mailing their crap, reducing the workload for postal workers, which also reduces costs. This move seems silly. A dollar for a single stamp? Good lord.
posted by xedrik at 12:08 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of a record label I knew that was run out of my home town in Michigan; the founders had moved from Canada to the US specifically because the postal service was so much better here (though, in large part that was tied to sending stuff over borders). But they were from Argentina originally, and just could not believe how fantastic the US service was in comparison. It was odd to me to listen to them, because complaints about the Post Office are, like, beyond cliche here.
posted by klangklangston at 12:10 PM on December 11, 2013


"Instead of raising the price of stamps, why not raise the prices for bulk mail? Legitimate mail should be inexpensive, make the spammers who send the mountains of crap I get every day pay more. Either the post will get more revenue for the spammers, or they'll stop mailing their crap, reducing the workload for postal workers, which also reduces costs. This move seems silly. A dollar for a single stamp? Good lord."

Bulk mail provides the lion's share of postal revenues; increasing costs there to decrease the volume will end up cutting revenue, making further service cuts more likely. Sorry, each time you see junk mail you should probably be glad that they're subsidizing real residential mail.
posted by klangklangston at 12:12 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The math in that article made no sense... 5M get mail at home 3.8M get mail in a common box... leaves us with only 9M people getting mail, when Canada has like 35M people. Even if 2x people live at one address (or 2.5 assuming 1/2 have kids), that number is still way too low.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:12 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, as much as I like my mail delivery, I don't see the complaint about this. I moved from Scarbrough to Burlington when I was 6, and boom, no more door to door mail delivery; my understanding was they'd been phasing it out for decades now.

In my neighbourhood in Burlington they had one community mailbox at the end of each street, so the *most* you had to walk was half a block, and those were short suburban blocks, not big, long city blocks.

When I was in Hamilton we still got door to door delivery, and that seemed really wasteful to me; I would much rather cheaper packages (Package prices are freaking insane here) then save walking 30 m to the mailbox.

When I was in Deep River there was no mail delivery, period. You had to go the the post office and get a PO box there. Now, this struck me as an obvious problem, since I've bought things from places that won't ship to PO boxes or general delivery, so how the hell would I buy a Lenovo laptop if I lived in Deep River? On the other hand, the town was small enough that it wasn't crazy far from anywhere to get there.

Now in Vancouver, that is a pain. I live on campus, and as one of the two residence mail room employees left they now make you visit the mail room and bring ID to get mail....which is only available between 9 and 5, not 12-1. So I just have all my mail send to my work, as it is easier then going to get mail during work hours.

Now, I've never lived in the deep city, but isn't it pretty much all apartments there, who'd have mail in the lobby? That is how it was when I lived in an apartment building in Kingston (yes, I've lived in too damn many places), and that was the easiest of all, you just picked it up on your way home from work each day.
posted by Canageek at 12:14 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't had delivery to my door for over twenty years at three different addresses in two cities. Most of it has already been phased out in favour of community boxes.
This really only affects those lucky enough to still have the door service, and puts everyone at the same service level. Either everyone gets home delivery or no one does. They made the right choice.
posted by rocket88 at 12:20 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now, I've never lived in the deep city, but isn't it pretty much all apartments there, who'd have mail in the lobby?

I have lived pretty much exclusively in downtown areas since I was old enough to move out, and I have never lived somewhere with mail in the lobby. All the apartments I lived in were converted homes and had proper mailboxes on the outside of the property.
posted by Jairus at 12:21 PM on December 11, 2013


Jairus: Huh, well, I guess your service will match everything I've seen since I left Scarborough in the 90s then.

Also I don't get why door to door would be more secure; it isn't like the mailboxes on most houses lock better then the community ones, and there will at least be package boxes instead of just being on a doorstep or something.
posted by Canageek at 12:28 PM on December 11, 2013


I love that the examples being given here for "jeez community mailbox get over it" usually applies to subdivisions and rural areas, still completely not taking into account the many people who live in dense city cores. As jeather pointed out upthread, Montreal neighborhoods and their homes are varied and complicated; I have no doubt the same applies to urban Toronto/Vancouver 'hoods as well. People who live in subdivisions & rural areas that have them and like them don't have to worry. It's people who live in the cities--especially people are disabled, elderly, or poor--that are asking where they are going to go.
posted by Kitteh at 12:30 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The math in that article made no sense... 5M get mail at home 3.8M get mail in a common box... leaves us with only 9M people getting mail, when Canada has like 35M people. Even if 2x people live at one address (or 2.5 assuming 1/2 have kids), that number is still way too low.

Rural folk pick up their mail at the post office (There are ~13.3 million households in Canada).
posted by srboisvert at 12:33 PM on December 11, 2013


Ya, this is completely outrageous.

Now, I've never lived in the deep city, but isn't it pretty much all apartments there, who'd have mail in the lobby?

I live in a house converted to 6 apartments next door to a rooming house with a license for 14 units but only 5 occupied. The entire street is the same, with only 1 house in 5 actually a single family home. I'd say that kind of housing makes up 10-20% of units in Downtown Toronto, with another 20% as single family homes and townhomes. Maybe 50-60% highrise. 'the deep city' has a MUCH broader spectrum of housing options than anywhere else.
posted by Chuckles at 12:34 PM on December 11, 2013


The way places like DealExtreme are able to offer cheap shipping is something that really needs investigation. Don't get me wrong, I think they are great and I'd hate to see the business model go away, but.. It seems almost certain that China Post costs Canada Post a lot of money! Meanwhile, it is impossible to run a similar business from within Canada because the shipping costs are extremely high.
posted by Chuckles at 12:38 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also I don't get why door to door would be more secure; it isn't like the mailboxes on most houses lock better then the community ones, and there will at least be package boxes instead of just being on a doorstep or something.

I could steal a lot more valuable mail at a community mailbox than in my neighbourhood. Think about it. Either I open one main door and take the mail from dozens of boxes, or I walk from porch to porch opening other people's mailboxes. Seeing a strange man at a community mailbox isn't going to raise the suspicions as seeing a strange man at my mailbox is.
posted by Jairus at 12:40 PM on December 11, 2013


Dense city cores should be the EASIEST to put up mailboxes for; Suppose each mailbox serves 30 house holds. In a dense city core you'd hit that number of people a lot FASTER, right? So they'd be closer to the household they are serving, since the city core is, as you said, denser.
posted by Canageek at 12:40 PM on December 11, 2013


Dense city cores should be the EASIEST to put up mailboxes for; Suppose each mailbox serves 30 house holds.

My apartment building alone has 12 floors and some (I estimate) 200+ residents. It's on a block with several such buildings. That's going to be a hell of a large community mailbox; I have no idea where they are going to stick something like that on my street. And that's going to be replicated all over Vancouver's West End.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:49 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dense city cores should be the EASIEST to put up mailboxes for; Suppose each mailbox serves 30 house holds. In a dense city core you'd hit that number of people a lot FASTER, right? So they'd be closer to the household they are serving, since the city core is, as you said, denser.

So my block alone needs 2 mailboxes (plus one delivery to an apartment building). Where exactly are these mailboxes going to go, two to four to a block in the densest parts of the city? They're already dense so they don't have a lot of extra room.
posted by jeather at 12:49 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dense city cores should be the EASIEST to put up mailboxes for; Suppose each mailbox serves 30 house holds. In a dense city core you'd hit that number of people a lot FASTER, right? So they'd be closer to the household they are serving, since the city core is, as you said, denser.

This will not work in the sort of places that jeather and lesbiasparrow are saying they live in. We're moving to central TO next year; if we're lucky and find a place that is more duplex/triplex and the surrounding residences are the same, maybe that would work within a two-block radius, but apartment buildings/condos/sixplexes, etc do not work like that. At all. Hence, this is a terrible idea.
posted by Kitteh at 12:53 PM on December 11, 2013


Jairus: Seeing a strange man not in a Canada Post uniform opening the big doors to all the mailboxes would be very suspicious; otherwise you'd have to break into each mailbox one by one. Also the package boxes lock there; that has GOT to be more secure then a doorstep.

There are lots of areas in cities that already have community mail, aren't there? Do any of them have problems with this?

Worse case, couldn't you put a camera on top of the mailboxes, like ATMs have? Wouldn't that discourage theft?

jeather: My block in the suburbs had two, one at each end of the street. Pretty much all the streets were similar, in that they kept a lot of them so you didn't have to walk far.

Don't get me wrong; I dislike the Harper goverment and think they should be paying for mail, but it always felt wrong to me that some people got very expensive door-to-door and some people have to walk to a community mailbox. Feels like it should be all one way or another. I'd rather they reduce door-to-door and add in something like the US's book post, so that it doesn't cost me an arm and a leg just to mail a D&D book from home.

Also: Why don't apartment buildings have their own mailboxes? When I've been in residence at uni, and living in an apartment in Kingston they all had mailboxes for each building. The same with all my friends apartments I've visited. What do they do now, go through each building and drop it off at your door?
posted by Canageek at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2013


My apartment building alone has 12 floors and some (I estimate) 200+ residents.

An apartment building that size doesn't have mailboxes in the lobby?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:55 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


but it always felt wrong to me that some people got very expensive door-to-door and some people have to walk to a community mailbox. Feels like it should be all one way or another.

This is one of the strangest things I have ever read in re: to, well, anything.
posted by Kitteh at 12:56 PM on December 11, 2013


Hey, I'd rather everybody got door to door delivery. If that meant only getting mail twice a week then fine. It's not like Canada Post actually delivers five days a week on most weeks as it is.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:59 PM on December 11, 2013


I live near the Annex in Toronto. The population density in my neighbourhood is 10,237 people per square kilometre, with very nearly zero hirises. That's a lot of community mailboxes in very little space.

Jairus: Seeing a strange man not in a Canada Post uniform opening the big doors to all the mailboxes would be very suspicious; otherwise you'd have to break into each mailbox one by one. Also the package boxes lock there; that has GOT to be more secure then a doorstep.

I can open a 5-pin mailbox lock with a bump key in about twenty seconds, and I can do it at three in the morning. I'm not going to notice someone at three in the morning stealing from the community mailbox that's behind the park where people have regular needle cleanups. I am a lot more likely to notice someone outside my window on my porch. And then on someone else's porch. And on someone else's porch. And on someone else's porch. That's the kind of thing that gets noticed. I've never had a package stolen from my porch.
posted by Jairus at 1:01 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


An apartment building that size doesn't have mailboxes in the lobby?

Actually no - though other similar buildings I've lived in in the same area have had lobby boxes. But that's not what we're talking about: we're talking about putting up boxes on the streets. And I seriously have no idea where they're going to jam them or how they'll manage this for my block alone, let alone the rest of the city.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:01 PM on December 11, 2013


My block is a mix of postwar 3 story walk-ups, townhouses, Victorian mansions converted to apartments, some of which have converted back to mansions, and a few group homes. 80% of one side of the street is taken up by a long term care facility. I don't even know how my street would be divided into "households" but assuming the group homes have one mailbox each, that still leaves probably 150 mailboxes to put somewhere on the street. The grounds of the hospital probably makes the most sense, but really, how much time does that save the postie, who would normally be sorting mail as they walk anyway?

My guess is that the leadership of Canada Post, who have in words and action already made clear their main goals are to break public sector unions and privatize the post office, are doing this because they know that while it might save money in the long term, it will be extremely expensive in the short run, which will provide the immediate justification for selling it off.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:03 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


My block in the suburbs had two, one at each end of the street. Pretty much all the streets were similar, in that they kept a lot of them so you didn't have to walk far.

Yes, but there is no real room for two or four of these things on every single block in the denser parts of Montreal. I'm not saying they don't work anywhere at all. But "oh, just put them on the block" only works if there is actually room for them on the block, and in lots of urban areas there isn't.

but it always felt wrong to me that some people got very expensive door-to-door and some people have to walk to a community mailbox. Feels like it should be all one way or another.

People in the cities have to pay the same amount as people in Nunavut, even though it's much cheaper to deliver into cities.

Why don't apartment buildings have their own mailboxes?

Apartment buildings generally do. But a lot of Montreal is duplexes, triplexes, sixplexes. Though they're often called apartments, each one generally has its own street address and its own front door.
posted by jeather at 1:06 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, it's not like Canada Post already owns or has rights to use all the space for these boxes. Where are they going to go, and how much is it going to cost?

Where are you going to put the boxes for this block?

Probably in that little park/playground, right? Now zoom out. Look how many households will need mailboxes there. Probably 500? Canada Post isn't just going to be offered all that space for free. Plus the mailboxes will be a capital expense, and then there will be the cost of replacing and repairing them as they get broken into again and again and again.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:14 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Inner cities just weren't built with this kind of delivery system in mind. Most of them date back to before there were refrigerators, when you could still get milk, coal and ice deliveries. It made sense to put the people together and bring the services to them. There's probably no easy way to graft community mailboxes into these neighborhoods.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:18 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I strongly suspect the taxpayers will be made to pay for the upkeep/security & use of these community mailboxes. And the onus will be on us to make sure no one steals our mail, or that we even get it at all, really. Didn't get your mail this week? Not our problem! Someone stole your Amazon package? Oopsie, but not our problem!

I just remembered that this is also a horrible idea in regards to immigration forms. I live in a small city in Quebec and Canada Post lost my paperwork while I was applying for PR.
posted by Kitteh at 1:19 PM on December 11, 2013


self-congratulatory "newsletter"

Those things are the worst.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:21 PM on December 11, 2013


Another question on the receipt of parcels -- what is to prevent someone from making a copy of the key to the parcel box for nefarious purposes? Are these special non-copiable keys?
posted by apcmwh at 1:47 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Glob and Whale's take, or TL/DR: shut up and stop complaining because you can get bills, statements, invitations, cards, magazines etc online now anyways, so what is the big deal?

(After all, everyone has/can afford a computer and an internet connection. Right?)
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:56 PM on December 11, 2013


But that's not what we're talking about: we're talking about putting up boxes on the streets.

I'm talking about lobby mailboxes because they aren't changing, and anyone who currently has a lobby mailbox won't see any changes in their mail delivery. I'm just surprised that a huge building like that doesn't have lobby mailboxes; that's pretty unusual.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:59 PM on December 11, 2013


. In addition to your financial business, you can send greeting cards and invitations for events like weddings online, and you can subscribe to magazines via tablet.

Well then.
posted by jeather at 2:05 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Further to this, it was just mentioned on CBC news that rural addresses, with a mailbox at the end of a driveway, will still get home delivery. Quel surprise
posted by Flashman at 2:12 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where are you going to put the boxes for this block?

It's funny you should mention Hotel-de-Ville as an example. I lived a few blocks west on Lorne, and also a few blocks up on Villeneuve for a long time. Would you believe this depaneur is where I used to pick up my parcels?

When I lived in Mile End there was a pharmacy full of post office boxes (you can see the Canada Post logo on the sign). Lots of homes and businesses had post office boxes there and if you didn't get your parcel at your door that's where you went to pick it up. How much do you want to bet everyone in that neighborhood will have to go there to get their mail? As for senior friendly, the lineup for the mail counter was parallel to the lineup for prescriptions.

Let's be clear: In dense urban areas they won't be putting boxes outside, they will go in local businesses such as pharmacies, grocery stores and convenience stores. Mark my word.
posted by furtive at 2:23 PM on December 11, 2013


community mailboxes are great! They get people walking and provide a public space... for running into neighbors

Christ, this is going from bad to worse.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:50 PM on December 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Let's be clear: In dense urban areas they won't be putting boxes outside, they will go in local businesses such as pharmacies, grocery stores and convenience stores.

I am positive you're right. The only way they could have the recessed siting google image search shows me for these things plus the regularity people here are talking about is by putting them on residents' property, in my Toronto neighbourhood. I fully expect I'll be trotting to Shoppers to pick up the post. Will be a lot of fliers dumped there!
posted by jamesonandwater at 2:52 PM on December 11, 2013


I find it hilarious how so many people (politicians) look at how it would impact their lives (yeah, we can just slap a superbox on Prya's lawn in my suburban neighbourhood of McMansions) and extrapolate that it would work out for everyone ok. I agree it would NOT work in Downtown Toronto or Montreal, and quite a few of the older neighbourhoods (basically the ones that DON'T have a superbox already). When the superboxes came I remember thinking it was a way to lull people into using them for years, create a divide between people that have no choice but to use superboxes and those who have home delivery for the same cost of stamps. I wonder if their thoughts on New Canadians (who usually move pretty quickly into the suburbs) and thus have less of a tradition/expectation of home mail delivery in Canada played in this? Crabs in the bucket, we do it to ourselves.
posted by saucysault at 3:04 PM on December 11, 2013


furtive: That would make sense. They've already got post offices in every Shopper's Drug Mart I've ever been in, so it would make sense to combined the two.
posted by Canageek at 3:12 PM on December 11, 2013


The next federal election is probably at the end of 2015, right? Let's hope people remember this.

Also, ha. I caught the UPS ninja, but the postman never showed up today. Five days a week, sure...
posted by Kevin Street at 3:14 PM on December 11, 2013


I work at home and can usually tackle -- ahem, meet up with -- my friendly postie at my front door in Toronto even before finishes walking off my porch. If I need to walk out to a superbox down the street, I will not be greatly personally inconvenienced, although I will not appreciate the additional risk faced by my mail and packages.

But if dense Toronto neighbourhoods are going to get their mailboxes in local stores, people who work outside the home have one more errand to run at the end of every workday.

Plus, I'm just looking at our local grocery stores and drug stores and I don't know how they'd have the space for enough boxes to handle the number of people living within walking distance. Private businesses are going to give up valuable floor space for mailboxes? Expect them to press for some hefty additional fees to cover their inconvenience (not ours).
posted by maudlin at 3:30 PM on December 11, 2013


Sorry, sorry, too many posts. I promise to shut up after this, but:
(Local 73 President Bey Ray) "...also challenges the corporation's claim that it struggles with competing with the private sector due to labour costs.

The last round of collective bargaining the starting wage for a letter carrier was reduced to $19 an hour and "if you look at the private sector such as Purolator...they're starting at that or higher," Ray said.

Ray also points out that the move towards community mail boxes across Canada is ironic since in national consultations in September Canada Post was concerned about mail theft from the boxes.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:34 PM on December 11, 2013


Expect them to press for some hefty additional fees to cover their inconvenience (not ours).

They'll also want paying for disposing of the metric ton of fliers and junk mail people will dump there before leaving for home.
posted by jamesonandwater at 3:51 PM on December 11, 2013


Great. I just moved from the suburbs to the heart of Toronto and home delivery was one of the perks I looked forward to. Now I have to put on pants to get the mail? Thanks for nothing, Canada Post!
posted by The Hyacinth Girl at 4:15 PM on December 11, 2013


> if Canada Post is so flipping inefficient, why does my Conservative MP use it to continually send me their self-congratulatory "newsletter"?

Because MPs get to mail stuff for free. Ever noticed there are no stamps on them?

Mail to MPs is free as well. I should really buy 162 bricks, and mail one to each Conservative MP.

> Ask yourself why Canada Post's management is making this announcement before the Christmas season

I'm more concerned it was made the day after Parliament closed for the holidays, so in classic Harper style, there can be no discussion.
posted by scruss at 4:32 PM on December 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think scruss nails it.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:58 PM on December 11, 2013


When I'm in charge, I'm going to put certain aspects of public life into a corral and build a big, impregnable wall around them so that private interests can't touch them. I'll add an electric fence so that if private interests try to touch them, it'll hurt.

Into the corral goes public schools; fire and police departments; single-payer health care; prisons; infrastructure projects; utilities such as water, electricity, and Internet access; and last but not least, the postal service. These things may run at a "loss" if you look at them like you look at businesses, but these are not businesses. They should not be businesses. And they should not be judged as if they are businesses.
posted by zardoz at 5:23 PM on December 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Because MPs get to mail stuff for free. Ever noticed there are no stamps on them?

So if they had to pay - and I'm just spit balling here - what would that do for the bottom line of Canada Post? Or, alternatively, how much would they pay a private firm to deliver stuff form them? Because I'd like to know how much the subsidy Canada Post is providing to our government is worth.

And of course, there is this, which I think is interesting.
posted by nubs at 5:43 PM on December 11, 2013


Zardoz for ruler of the world!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:50 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's be clear: In dense urban areas they won't be putting boxes outside, they will go in local businesses such as pharmacies, grocery stores and convenience stores.

You're probably right that they'll aim for that, but I can't imagine them being able to fit anything like enough boxes in any of stores in my area that have postal outlets - including the Shoppers. And even the places that don't have postal outlets are pretty tiny and overstuffed. I foresee a future where these go too as it turns out that they'll have to pay so much money for a tiny fragment of space that whatever they save will get eaten up in costs. And then they'll just toss the stuff in a heap somewhere and let people go diving for post.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:52 PM on December 11, 2013


God forbid people pay the full cost of living in suburban McMansions. This won't change anything for anyone who lives in an apartment with a mailbox.

I appreciate that the elderly and disabled will be disproportionately affected by this, but blanket subsidies for everyone in the suburbs are an awful way to provide for those groups.
posted by ripley_ at 6:23 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the ever fewer days of the week where I have offered the right sacrifices to the Gods of the postal system, bright papers and cunningly folded devices are delivered to the exterior of my home by a cruel man, beleaguered both by nature's flora and smaller fauna. I would like to see this exchange continue, and the cruel man will expect his ritual Timmies card for his services come this holiday; the purposes he will put it to is best left unknown to us. I fear his violence.
posted by angerbot at 6:31 PM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


> "Zardoz for ruler of the world!"

I'm not too keen on his plan to have the Exterminators invade the Vortex and kill the Eternals, though.
posted by kyrademon at 7:03 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


At first glance this seemed like an insane proposal: what the fuck could Stephen Harper be thinking?!

See also

The Harper government has dismantled one of the world's top aquatic and fishery libraries as part of its agenda to reduce government as well as limit the role of environmental science in policy decision-making.
...

posted by sebastienbailard at 7:08 PM on December 11, 2013


I've been reading all of these above comments to myself in a kinda little old retired lady voice, and gradually feeling myself transforming into a little old retired lady...
posted by ovvl at 7:48 PM on December 11, 2013


Only 1/3 of Canadians currently receive "to the door" mail. The other 2/3 live in apartment buildings (lobby boxes) or suburbs (existing community mailboxes).

This isn't really a huge change, and simply extends the situation that exists for most Canadians already to all Canadians. It's being spun as "the end of mail delivery", but really it's not. The hyperbole about needing a car to drive to your community mailbox is just that - hyperbole. Just as is the case with existing community mailboxes, they are placed within a couple of blocks of any given house.

There is no reason that people with disabilities will not be able to be accomodated in some fashion under this new scheme, and given Canada's strict anti-discriminatory laws on the basis of disability, I would be surprised if someone has not already thought of solutions (ie home delivery for the disabled twice a week - this would still result in a massive savings to Canada Post vs daily delivery to every single person's home).
posted by modernnomad at 7:52 PM on December 11, 2013


"Soon everyone will get all their bills, newspapers, and payment online," he opined as he then went on to talk about he no longer gets his copies of the NYT and New Yorker in his mail anymore and he's all the better for it.

Maybe he's right, that all of that will be done online. Maybe so.

However, living in Hamilton, I see a lot -- and I mean A LOT -- of people who simply don't have their own home computer, or maybe they have a laptop, but no internet access. The computer labs at the public libraries are pretty big, but each one of those computers is taken up all day, every day, by people who simply can't afford or just can't have a computer at home. People even sit outside a closed library in the cold, to use the free WiFi. Those are the lucky ones.

Eliminating home delivery is going to further marginalize a lot of people in urban areas.

Perhaps it's just a marker of the stagnating/declining standard of living over the last thirty years that some are OK with this, that we've grown so accustomed to cutbacks that we don't have a problem with everyone being reduced, rather than raising everyone up to where they should be in the first place.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:02 PM on December 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


hal_c_on: "Mail delivery is a service to your residents. Of course you won't make as much money as FedEx."

To expand on what I said above a little more bluntly: the solution to this problem is to curtail or outright abolish Fedex, UPS, and other postal service alternatives. This is a fiat power at least implied in the US constitution; I'm not sure what status it has under Canadian law, but it ought to be feasible. As people have said, delivering items isn't a business, it's a public service. It ought to be able to be self-sufficient. If that means cutting into private enterprise in order to ensure that public funds don't have to be squandered keeping it alive, so be it.
posted by koeselitz at 8:18 PM on December 11, 2013


ripley_, Superboxes were introduced in the eighties, just before McMansions began appearing. So any existing or future McMansion suburbs will continue to have superboxes (unfortunately). It is the dense urban areas that do not have the public space available for community superboxes unless they literally expropriate several entire front lawns for each block of street. Older suburbs, like Rexdale or Mississauga, may have more generous public spaces, or sidewalks or easements, but they also have residential density higher than you expect with many hidden basement apartments and an overall lower socio-economic profile than you may assume from appearances.
posted by saucysault at 8:39 PM on December 11, 2013


I foresee a future where these go too as it turns out that they'll have to pay so much money for a tiny fragment of space that whatever they save will get eaten up in costs.

Since it will drive new traffic (and potential customers) into the businesses some places will likely be paying for the privilege.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:58 PM on December 11, 2013


Since it will drive new traffic (and potential customers) into the businesses some places will likely be paying for the privilege.

I have my doubts about that. The average little corner store in an urban neighbourhood which might appreciate the new business won't have the space unless they rip out some shelving. How likely is it that they would make enough from new foot traffic to make up for the loss of stock? Larger stores, like Shoppers' and the various supermarkets, are probably busy enough (and rich enough) to ask for money in exchange for the space.

And now I'm wondering about what happens to a set of community mailboxes in a store if it goes out of business or if the business relocates. Do the mailboxes get moved to yet another location? Does Canada Post send staff in to take care of the storefront until an alternative can be found? What if no local businesses want to deal with the hassle? Does Canada Post open up a mini post office, like there used to be here in the Junction at Dundas and Keele? Do they shrug and find some open spot on the street to plant down some mailboxes and say the hell with it? Or do people in some neighbourhoods have to get on their bikes or public transit to pick up their mail at a more distant location in yet another private business?
posted by maudlin at 10:12 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's be clear: In dense urban areas they won't be putting boxes outside, they will go in local businesses such as pharmacies, grocery stores and convenience stores. Mark my word.

Let's be clear: I entirely disagree.

The superboxes will, like existing community boxes, be placed outside, at street corners, etc.

There is no mechanism for Canada Post to expropriate private property in order to install these boxes, of which there will need to be LOTS in dense urban areas. It would be relatively trivial, however, to gain the necessary permissions to install them as "street furniture" in the same way benches, bike racks, bus shelters, Bixi stations, and those bullshit advertising/wayfinding posts in Toronto are.

There may indeed be cases where Canada Post combines with its existing private partner (Shopper's, who I guess are in the process of merging with Loblaws) to provide boxes in the same fashion they currently provide privately-located P.O. Boxes, but by and large these community superboxes will be located on public property (sidewalks), just as they are in the suburbs.
posted by modernnomad at 10:22 PM on December 11, 2013


Canadian postal worker here, I am quoting an anonymous fellow postie below as it is a good summary of how this situation developed. You might note that the first time Canada Post lost money was the year 2011 when we were in contract "negotiations" and our minor rotating strikes were countered with a 10 day lock out by Canada Post. That same lock out was ended by the government legislating us back to work because all of a sudden we were an essential service. In that 10 days, many many companies took the opportunity to switch their customers to some sort of online billing, which only expedited the loss of first class lettermail.

In January 2011, three months prior to winning his majority, Harper appointed Deepak Chopra President and CEO of Canada Post. Chopra took over a crown corporation that had:
- turned a profit for 15 consecutive years
- paid dividends to the federal government
- gone 14 years without a major disruption of service
- repeatedly made top 100 best employers list

Under Chopra's guidance, Canada Post has:
- lost money 2 years in a row
- failed to make payments to the employee pension fund
- locked out the unionized workers forcing a full scale shutdown of service
- created a work environment poisoned by fear and mistrust

Prior to his hiring at Canada Post, Chopra was the President and CEO of Pitney Bowes Canada. The same Pitney Bowes that is up to it's ears in the drive for privatization of the Royal Mail and the US Postal Service. The same Pitney Bowes that is a world leader in the manufacture, distribution and operation of mail sorting equipment.

Canada Post recently borrowed $2 Billion dollars to invest in modernization and infrastructure, you have to wonder how much of the crown corp's recent losses are attributable to this expensive undertaking.

You don't need a master's degree in Business Admin or Poli-Sci to connect the dots here and see huge conflict of interest and political interference implications surrounding the recent hysterical revelations about declining mail volumes, insolvent pensions and shrinking revenues.

It's obvious that Stephen Harper and Deepak Chopra want to create the impression that Canada Post is inefficient and unsustainable so that the profitable sortation, distribution and urban delivery sections of the post office can be carved up and sold to corporate monoliths such as Pitney Bowes and FedEx.


That $2 billion dollars that was borrowed in order to "modernize" the system? Well, first of all a large portion of it was spent on new lettermail sorting machines that were purchased from....Pitney Bowes! And why did they spend all that money on equipment that would sort the very product that is in decline? Well, they expected these machines to replace some of the hand sorting letter carriers do before they walk...the problem is the machines routinely missort the mail. Not to mention the health and safety issues that have come with the new methods, which I guess now is a moot point, as I guess letter carriers won't be walking for 15 km a day anymore.

Now, as to the financials, it should be noted that Canada Post and news articles are relying heavily on the Conference Board of Canada's report that claims the company will loose $1 billion a year by 2020...where do they get these numbers when actually there have been profits in the last year? Well, for one, the CEO of Canada Post sits on the board of the Conference Board of Canada which isn't some sort of independent think tank, as we are lead to believe. That very same report examined the idea of re-establishing a postal bank in Canada (a profitable venture in many countries) and concluded it could be very successful in Canada, BUT... it dismisses the idea after providing the argument for it by saying
"Canada has a highly developed financial services sector that extends from large banks to small credit unions. While there is clearly room for Canada Post to explore digital products involving financial transactions such as invoicing and bill payments, the conditions that allowed other postal administrations to succeed in banking do not exist in Canada. Therefore, this report does not explore financial services as an option in Canada

I wonder that these "conditions" might be that might be discouraging the exploration of this service expanding and revenue generating option? The union is pushing postal banking as a way to generate revenue as we have the largest retail network in the country and thus could provide services in communities where there is no bank.

So, yes, this is frustrating as a worker as cutting service and raising prices is an idiotic way to run a company. They want to convert everyone to community mailboxes that aren't secure and prone to being targeted for theft, especially in urban areas. Also, there is a lot of money to be saved when there is an excessive amount of middle management, 19 vice presidents in the company and when the CEO makes twice as much as the Prime Minister, before his very generous "bonus" he gets every year.
posted by smartypantz at 12:26 AM on December 12, 2013 [23 favorites]


And don't even get me started on "epost", another example of how this company has shot itself in the foot. Get all your bills in one place online for free? From a company whose expertise is in physical delivery networks, and not building secure and functional websites? The internal employee website/ system is an atrocity of ugly unusable "frames" and dysfunction, logging in feels like I'm being whisked back to the 90's. Nevermind the fact that you can already get all your bills in one place online - it's called EMAIL.
posted by smartypantz at 12:37 AM on December 12, 2013


Oh, and all "permanent" stamps (ie stamps that retain value when the price increases) were pulled from the shelves of every retail outlet this morning and they are now only allowed to sell denominational stamps. They don't want people cashing in! Good thing I have a bit of a stockpile - they'll be collector's items someday.
posted by smartypantz at 12:57 AM on December 12, 2013


I wish there was some way to fight this!
posted by Kevin Street at 3:09 AM on December 12, 2013


all "permanent" stamps (ie stamps that retain value when the price increases) were pulled from the shelves of every retail outlet this morning

They tried. I went in to buy some 63¢ stamps yesterday afternoon, because the permanent stamps will be worth a third more in the spring, and ended up with more permanent stamps. So I've tried to buy some more (63¢) online.

they'll be collector's items someday

They'll just be sold again in April for 85¢.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:05 AM on December 12, 2013


However, living in Hamilton, I see a lot -- and I mean A LOT -- of people who simply don't have their own home computer, or maybe they have a laptop, but no internet access. The computer labs at the public libraries are pretty big, but each one of those computers is taken up all day, every day, by people who simply can't afford or just can't have a computer at home. People even sit outside a closed library in the cold, to use the free WiFi. Those are the lucky ones.

Eliminating home delivery is going to further marginalize a lot of people in urban areas.


Exactly. I'd still be pissed but I'd rather people who say things like "Everyone can do all their business online now! We don't need urban delivery anymore!" own up to the fact they absolutely do not care about the poor, elderly, and disabled. That way I can at least know who the horrible folks are.
posted by Kitteh at 4:49 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


BC Ferries, Nav Canada, and now Canada Post. Yet another formerly government-run entity has been privatized and mandated to break even, because the government couldn't run it themselves and break even. The government never has to break even, hence our never-ending increasing national debt... Why should these crown corporations have to break even either?

The big difference between community mailboxes and apartment mailboxes is that the apartment mailboxes are at least in a lobby that is behind a locked door. The urban community mailboxes are out in the open and frequently hidden from sight from many angles. They're perfect shopping centers for your neighborhood junkies, who seem to be able to open them with increasing ease on a regular basis around here.
posted by Snowflake at 6:30 AM on December 12, 2013


This is truly one area where Canada Post is far better than any of the private options, including even their own Purolator service.

I despise Purolator. Over the last decade not a single package has arrived at my door. I always have to go to their warehouse because they are unable to locate my place even though every other service can.
posted by juiceCake at 7:00 AM on December 12, 2013


> don't even get me started on "epost"

Yeah, epost is dreadful. Like do-all-those-things-you're-told-not-to-do-in-UX-101 dreadful. It relies on frames in popup windows redirecting to third-party sites, which sometimes don't carry through the login details. If you're lucky, you can download a huge PDF of each individual bill. What you can't do for all bills is pay them through your selected bank methods, so you pretty much have to keep the epost site (and all the windows it spawns) open with your online bank, and pay directly from your bank. Want to register or change bank details? Print out a form, sign it, mail it to Ottawa, and in about six weeks use the confirmation code that comes back by mail to make the changes. It's a joke.

I suspect Costco will have a bunch of the Permanent stamps. We stocked up on the Rush ones when we could.

I do miss the automatic mailing kiosks that were briefly in my local Moneygram remittance queueing zone postal outlet. Too useful to last.
posted by scruss at 7:18 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Soon everyone will get all their bills, newspapers, and payment online," he opined as he then went on to talk about he no longer gets his copies of the NYT and New Yorker in his mail anymore and he's all the better for it.

Maybe he's right, that all of that will be done online. Maybe so.

However, living in Hamilton, I see a lot -- and I mean A LOT -- of people who simply don't have their own home computer, or maybe they have a laptop, but no internet access.


Well, that's exactly what made the comment tone deaf and I think the inclusion of the fact that he gets his "NYT and New Yorker" online is a dig at the out of touch, elitist aspect of what this person was saying. Not everyone has access to the tech, and not everyone who has access has the knowledge or skill to use it to gain the right levels and kinds of access in a safe and secure way.

How entrenched/unquestioned this attitude has become really hit me yesterday in a meeting with a group of non-profits (I was one of them) and some technology consultants who are helping out as we talk about an idea we have for some better tools to aid clients in accessing services and being in control of their information/story while doing so. The consultants brought a few examples of similar idea/projects that were being done out there to show us possibilities and encourage some thinking about what our true functional requirements are. One of the examples was described as having "a simple, intuitive interface." When they shared that screenshot, my comment to a colleague was that the interface was simple and intuitive - if you knew your way around a computer and the internet, which does not describe our clients. But to people immersed in technology, that thought doesn't even occur.

So yes, the digital divide and digital literacy are huge issues that need to be considered here alongside the physical access challenges others are going to have.
posted by nubs at 8:16 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I pointed out those remarks because they were made by a college professor who, in all likelihood, was a comfortable white male who can afford to do all his stuff online. They were so tone deaf that I couldn't believe what he was saying on public radio.
posted by Kitteh at 8:38 AM on December 12, 2013


They were so tone deaf that I couldn't believe what he was saying on public radio.

Nobody listens to public radio over the air anymore when you can just stream it online or download podcasts, right?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:45 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


all "permanent" stamps (ie stamps that retain value when the price increases) were pulled from the shelves of every retail outlet this morning

They tried. I went in to buy some 63¢ stamps yesterday afternoon, because the permanent stamps will be worth a third more in the spring, and ended up with more permanent stamps. So I've tried to buy some more (63¢) online.

they'll be collector's items someday

They'll just be sold again in April for 85¢.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:05 AM on December 12 [+] [!]


You're lucky they sold you those permanent stamps - it's possible some small stores could still be selling them, but any actual postal outlet has been told to pull them and I suspect anyone caught selling them could be disciplined.

As far as them being sold again in April for 85¢ .... perhaps, but see, that would be a logical thing to do (ie not waste the stamps, use up the stock), but this company seems to excel at doing the opposite of anything logical, so I doubt it. Seriously, I have worked for this company for over 5 years and I have lost track of the amount of times I have asked a question about why this or that is like "this" and not the logical "that" only to be laughed at by coworkers or management and told I'm being funny to even think logically around here. Like my first day sorting - "why aren't these labels arranged alphabetically?"...they all had a good chuckle about that one.

Also, new stamps are released every month so I can see them just straight up destroying all existing permanent stamps in favor of fresh new designs. They have already produced denominational versions of the basic permanent stamps that they are sending out to replace the pulled stock. I was being a little cheeky with the idea of the existing permanent stamps being collectable because all stamps are collectable. I worked in retail for a few months and I was surprised how many people come in to get their fresh no scuffs or fingerprint stamps to carefully file away in their collections.
posted by smartypantz at 8:49 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Print out a form, sign it, mail it to Ottawa, and in about six weeks use the confirmation code that comes back by mail to make the changes.

Case in point - the logical thing to do would be to, I don't know, email you the confirmation code, for instance? Wow. Thanks for confirming the details of the epost website, I've never actually logged into it as, like I said, I've seen what they produced for us internally and it's atrocious.
posted by smartypantz at 8:54 AM on December 12, 2013


You're lucky they sold you those permanent stamps - it's possible some small stores could still be selling them, but any actual postal outlet has been told to pull them and I suspect anyone caught selling them could be disciplined.

This was a CPC-branded outlet inside a Shoppers Drug Mart. I don't believe they had any non-permanent 63¢ stamps, so it was either that, combinations of lower-value stamps (which they may not have had), or nothing.

Even if they don't sell the exact issues they're selling now, surely they will sell permanent stamps again. Printing, distributing, and selling a zillion 2-cent stamps every year costs more money than just eating the price difference, doesn't it?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:07 AM on December 12, 2013


UPS, the poster child for terrible home service, requires at least one phone call to get them to stop trying to deliver, then a day's wait until you can actually pick it up, in an industrial yard with crappy parking half-way [across] the city

This is not actually true, though it's still a pain. There's an easy-to-miss "I need it today" option on their website after you enter the number from the door tag (not the regular tracking number). They'll call you usually after 6pm to let you know it's ready to pick up. I live close enough to one of their distribution centers that I use this all the time.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 9:08 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


[UPS has] an easy-to-miss "I need it today" option on their website after you enter the number from the door tag...

I'm not a fan in general, but my local UPS office (located, mercifully, about 4 blocks from where I work) lets you come by after 5 p.m. and they'll see if the truck's back. They'll let you pick up any package that hasn't been delivered at your doorstep between 6 and 6:30 p.m. if you bring in the notification thingy and your ID, as long as the truck got back at the scheduled time and isn't still out on deliveries due to some weird delay.
posted by Shepherd at 9:24 AM on December 12, 2013


This was a CPC-branded outlet inside a Shoppers Drug Mart. I don't believe they had any non-permanent 63¢ stamps, so it was either that, combinations of lower-value stamps (which they may not have had), or nothing.

Even if they don't sell the exact issues they're selling now, surely they will sell permanent stamps again. Printing, distributing, and selling a zillion 2-cent stamps every year costs more money than just eating the price difference, doesn't it?


They weren't supposed to sell you those stamps - they were instructed to sell postage through the computer (ie printing a postage label) or to use a metering machine (prints the postage on the envelope). I am hearing from my coworkers that it has been a gong show with long lines of angry customers. The logical thing to do would be to have the new stamps ready and delivered the day before the announcement, but as I mentioned many times above, logic doesn't enter into it. And yes, there will be permanent stamps again, they just won't be the same ones we have now - ie different designs, which is what will make the existing collectable.
posted by smartypantz at 9:35 AM on December 12, 2013


The logical thing to do would be to have the new stamps ready and delivered the day before the announcement

I think it would have been really difficult to keep a secret that big from leaking out before the announcement if literally every postal outlet in the country had had them shipped to them. In retrospect, the fact that the Christmas stamps advertised on the posters starting a few weeks ago were 63¢ and not permanent should have been a clue.

they were instructed to sell postage through the computer (ie printing a postage label) or to use a metering machine (prints the postage on the envelope)

This is only realistic if you expect everyone to bring all of their mail, ready to go but for postage, to the post office, which is to say it's completely unrealistic. At least there wasn't a long line.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:46 AM on December 12, 2013




Yeah, I pointed out those remarks because they were made by a college professor who, in all likelihood, was a comfortable white male who can afford to do all his stuff online. They were so tone deaf that I couldn't believe what he was saying on public radio.

Oh, those darned comfortable white males! I suppose you can discount whatever anyone has to say by chanting "privilege, privilege!" without presenting a different, relevant perspective.

Personally, I don't give a hoot about the increase in stamp prices or the lack of home delivery, mostly because I don't mail things, nobody mails me things, I don't have enough money to buy shit from Amazon, and, living in a townhouse, we already have outside mail pickup (although it is a total pain in the ass for everyone involved when the postie gives me my neighbour's disability cheque).

So, I'm not speaking from a position of white privilege and comfort, I'm speaking from a position of ignorance.

I have no idea how people with disabilities who currently rely on doorstep service will be affected.

I also did not know that Canada's small businesses (arguably, you might say, bastions of comfortable white male privilege) rely on Canada Post for invoicing and collecting payment because Canada generally resists innovative things like online payment.

While being self-employed I have a pretty precarious financial situation, I also have enough cash to be able to afford a computer and a laptop connection, and probably would never have considered that there are a lot of people who do not have internet and rely instead on the library for internet access.

See, I'm just ignorant, as is our CBC-listening friend in Montreal (FFS, the guy listens to CBC AM Radio, that's got to be worth points in our Dragons Den-schlocky country).
posted by KokuRyu at 10:37 AM on December 12, 2013


So, I'm not speaking from a position of white privilege and comfort, I'm speaking from a position of ignorance.

These aren't actually two different things. If I am ignorant of the ways that policy will affect the marginalized, it is because I have the privilege of not having been in a position where I would know what the marginalized experience is.
posted by Jairus at 12:53 PM on December 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Peter Van Loan is likening the protests against Canada Post cuts to rich people bitching about garbage cans some years ago.

I love Oliva Chow's response: "To compare a senior who has mobility issues or a disabled person to a rich person that may have maids or a housekeeper, shows how out of touch Peter Van Loan is from the lives of ordinary Canadians."
posted by Kitteh at 2:46 PM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Putting aside the identity politics for a moment, let's not lose sight of the very strong possibility that this is just plain unnecessary. It's an arbitrary decision made by a crown corporation with no transparency at the top, justified by reasons that seem dubious at best.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:53 PM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


A slight digression: I try to be open-minded, but the graphic designs for the permanent stamps are usually really ugly. Like "ugh, do I really want to send that on my personal mail to friends?" style ugly. But on a lighter note, The Royal Canadian Mint has been having fun with various special 25 cent coins.
posted by ovvl at 5:01 PM on December 12, 2013


What a fuckin' moron.
The head of Canada Post says Canadians were widely consulted about changes and if they read newspapers and follow the media they shouldn't have been taken by surprise when the corporation announced it was raising stamp prices and cancelling door-to-door delivery.
Followed by:
Asked how the post office would accommodate people with disabilities, Chopra said extra mailbox keys would be given to people so others could pick up their mail, or the height of community mailboxes could be adjusted.

He also said seniors have said they want to be more active, leading McGuinty to quip that there could be a program called "mail participaction," presumably when seniors walk to community mailboxes.
posted by gman at 1:14 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the scandal here is that Canada Post has been cruelly locking seniors away in their homes instead of allowing them to take full advantage of the bracing air of the great outdoors. Regina, SK, for example, is -23 degrees right now with winds of 11km/h, for a delightful windchill of -31 degrees. I know my infirm 89-year-old grandmother would love to be trudging through the snow and ice in that if she could.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:22 PM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


...
Chopra brushed off questions from Liberal MP David McGuinty that elimination of door-to-door delivery would disproportionately hurt seniors and instead suggested regular walks to community mailboxes might actually do them some good.

“Seniors are telling me that ‘I want to be healthy, I want to be active in my life,’” Chopra said.

- The Ottawa Citizen
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:39 PM on December 19, 2013


« Older Flur Buh coppa Wee!   |   The strain beneath the surface Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments