A tale of kindred spirits – we taxpaying citizens
The stories of incompetence at Canada Post and the US Postal Service are legendary, and to some extent expected. Post office employees are near the bottom of the credibility scale just above politicians and used car salesmen. And that’s a disservice to used car salesmen.
Fortunately, we have been rescued by the giants of the deliver industry like FedEx, and UPS and, of course, wing-nut bike couriers (who do get through the wind, rain, sleet and snow with their pony-tails, tattoos and attitude still in tact). The United States is trying to restructure, reform and resurrect the US Postal Service and it isn’t going to well. The US Postal Service is on an unsustainable financial path, losing $25 million a day and defaulting on $11.1 billion in loans.
Canada Post isn’t even trying. And why would they, they have a direct pipeline to the endless money supply in the taxpayers’ pockets. In 2011, Canada Post suffered a pre-tax operating loss of $253 million — the largest in its history. Its borrowing tops $1 billion. Its taxpayer-guaranteed pension plan is underfunded by a staggering $4.8 billion, up by $1.5 billion since 2010. All this while the total volume of all services provided by the corporation dropped by more than 4%.
Now some “smart person” at Canada Post – probably a consultant because there’s not a lot of smarts in-house – decided to hook Canada Post up with FedEx. It makes sense. Integrate some private enterprise smarts into the torpor of bureaucratic government thinking and maybe we’ll get better service. Wrong! Now they just pass the buck to FedEx. Of course, if they’d checked out some of the big, cumbersome, low-IQ private corporations like Bell, Rogers and AT&T, they would have realized that “customer service” is an inside joke that simply automates stupidity and pisses-off millions of customers. But that’s what big companies can do when they’re part of an oligopoly.
A tale of true crime
Here’s a customer service debacle from the genre of “true crime” that was recently experienced by a friend who tried to send an important envelope from Toronto to New York. And it’s similar to thousands of incidents happening across the nation, everyday.
Yesterday at 3 pm, I delivered an envelope to Canada Post at 2300 Yonge St, Toronto for overnight delivery (don’t you believe it) to New York City. Cost $47.20 inc. tax. The contract for delivery states on the receipt, “for delivery 2013/01/18 by 10.30 am. The next day at noon, I was advised by the intended recipient that the envelope had not arrived. This was a very important envelope so I contacted Canada Post and provided them with the tracking number (it would be more effective if it was a tracking dog). Canada Post confirmed receipt of the envelope at the stated time but said, “We cannot provide any further information as to its whereabouts.” What? That’s ignorance, apathy and incompetence all rolled into one. I think my fifty years of dealing with Canada Post made me accept the reality and shrug, despite unmitigated exasperation. Then they suggested I contact FedEx with whom Canada Post has a contract. I thought, okay now maybe we’ll get somewhere. After all, FedEx is the epitome of free enterprise.
I called Fed EX at 1.00 pm and was advised that they had not received the envelope from Canada Post. FedEx opened a tracking file (I think they use computers that work, not dogs) and advised that they would report back to me. Nothing. Time slipped by as my impatience grew; this was an urgent envelope, not a box of chocolates. At 2.30, I again called FedEx but still no envelope from Canada Post.
Realizing that I was pretty much on my own – hung out to dry as an unimportant customer and taxpayer – I again called Canada Post’s “customer service” (in name only). The first clerk, a guy named Tony, listened to my now adamant request and asked me to hold a moment (another sick joke). We all know that interminable “on-hold” emptiness, infused with insipid music and the intermittent recorded lie that, “Your call is important to us …” (bullshit). The next thing I know is I’m connected back to FedEx. Tony was gone (probably coffee break). Or he was just following the “pass-the-buck” policy. There was no information at FedEX so I went back at Canada Post (“Hell knows no fury like a business man scorned”). I asked for a supervisor and finally got an uninterested lady named Ilana. Ilana told me that even though I had taken the envelope to Canada Post , paid Canada Post, got a receipt from Canada Post, got a tracking number from Canada Post, it was not “procedure” for Canada Post to initiate a search for the envelope. What? She explained (another bad joke) that they wait for FedEx to contact its sources at Canada Post after the customer has reported the matter to FedEx. What? My simmering turned to seething.
You can imagine what I told Ilana. Well … not exactly. But I wanted to spew fifty years of dissatisfaction, disgust, distaste, impatience, incredulity and corporate scorched-earth firings into the bowels of Canada Post. But I didn’t. Instead, I mildly objected – not because I am a pushover – but because I also know it’s futile battle. We taxpayers lost the war with Canada Post decades ago and it is we who are out in the wind, rain, sleet and snow looking for our mail while the employees gather round the Canada Post campfire basking in the warmth of our burning tax dollars. The cold reality has steeled my resolve to never use Canada Post or the US Postal Service unless it is the only option left standing. Even then, I might opt for dogsleds.
Footnote: At the time of writing the envelope and its contents were still swirling around in the wind (i.e., bad gas) and bullshit of Canada Post.