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Canada Post to phase out urban home mail delivery (cbc.ca)
169 points by WestCoastJustin on Dec 11, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 130 comments

As the article notes, two-thirds of Canadians already do not have home mail delivery. Many urban residents, like myself, who live in newer areas with community mail boxes (a mail box that is maybe 100 metres from your home with everyone's mail) or in any type of apartment or condo building do not have mail delivered to our doorsteps.

It's secure (the boxes are locked unlike a doorstep mailbox), convenient (parcels can be locked in a special parcel dropbox, the key for which is deposited in your own mailbox, instead of having to be retrieved at the post office) and cheaper for the postal system.

Only people who live in older, more affluent areas built before community mailboxes receive home mail delivery. It's effectively a subsidy from us to them. Good riddance.

> Only people who live in older, more affluent areas built before community mailboxes receive home mail delivery. It's effectively a subsidy from us to them. Good riddance.

My parents' old house in a suburb of Vancouver is not in an affluent area and received such door to door service. Their new neighbourhood (which is rather upper middle income) and the apartment block that I live in doesn't however have this and has the "new-fangled" community mailboxes.

I personally am not a fan of this but the amount of mail I have received has diminished to just bills.

Agreed. I grew up in Saskatchewan, and a lot of people live in houses even if they rent, all of whom have home delivery. It's the norm in any area where houses were also the norm, but where acre lots weren't.

To provide a counter-argument: those "older" areas are also denser, and not necessarily affluent.

Come to Hamilton. I'll show you neighborhoods full of worn-down century homes that are under 6 figures to buy. And they don't have driveways. The next mailbox is only 20 feet away, and there's barely even a front lawn.

Compared to the gargantuan two-car-garage megalots of modern suburban sprawl, that's a huge difference. The amount of time a mail-carrier spends walking from one home to the next is important since that activity consumes most of the delivery time.

So the fact is, we used to build cities that made sense to service with mail-carriers. Then we took the brakes off of sprawl development and now it's no longer economical to do this.

I want to see a cost breakdown - what communities cost the most per-house to service with mail-carriers, and what communities cost the least. You want a fiscally sound decision? Fine, base it on cost.

Yes, I'd love to know the cost of delivery in my neighborhood. I live in the Plateau Mont-Royal in Montreal.

There are about 200 people on my block, based on what I could gauge from my municipal election zone. I see the postal workers quickly moving from home to home on foot.

I also fear the community mailboxes will be significantly uglier in areas such as mine, which have a combination of lovely architecture and small streets.

why aren't mail carriers in suburban areas given bikes or motorbikes to speed up their travel?

Auspost has a full spectrum of delivery vehicles vans and cars for remote area\parcels, postie bikes (honda ct110 (though apparently they are replacing these)) for suburban areas, bicycles for denser and trolleys and walking for dense areas

>> Only people who live in older, more affluent areas built before community mailboxes receive home mail delivery.

I lived in the 'hood' - Malvern - in a house that was built in 2001 and I got door-to-door delivery even though houses built at the same time in Markham (just north of Toronto) were on community mailboxes.

Looking at the (American) houses of me and my siblings, there is an inverse relationship between price and convenience of home delivery. One of us lives in a 100K house and gets mail put right to their front door. Another lives in a 800K house and has to drive to their mailbox.

How much of a say does the local Post Office have in how much service it will provide new developments?

In general the USPS pushes for rules that mandate the use of community boxes for new developments, for example: http://www.cnweekly.com/articles/2013/07/30/news/doc51f7da7c...

Where I live, the primary determinant of whether you get home delivery is the age of your community.

I bought and older house, and the USPS puts my mail right through a slot in the door. It's great - super convenient and I don't have to worry about stopping delivery when I'm out of town.

Personally, I'd rather see delivery cut on Saturday than have a community mailbox.

> or in any type of apartment or condo building do not have mail delivered to our doorsteps

wait... in that case, i don't think i've ever had urban home mail delivery. who gets door delivered door to door in a city? large brownstone-type SFRs?

Yep, basically any neighbourhood of detached homes built pre-1970s which is when community mailboxes became the new standard.

Not sure that's true, I think it has to more do with whether you live inside a major city.

My last house in Toronto was built in late 2001, and even though it was in the less dense northeast outskirts of the city, I had delivery to the door. At that same time, all suburban neighborhoods a few intersections north of me were getting community mailboxes for quite some time.

I'm in a downtown Ottawa "condo" (row house really) and all the homes around here have door to door delivery. It's pretty common I think.

I live in Whitehorse, Yukon, and every house within city limits gets door-to-door delivery now, including packages.

Those outside town have the shared boxes you describe.

Well then I have just exhibited the typical Toronto tendency to assume the rest of Canada is like here. :)

This "rest of Canada" that you refer to, what is that? Isn't Toronto basically Canada? ;)

Commonly called 'Onterrible' around here by the hordes that left.

I live in Toronto, get door-to-door delivery, and am most definitely not in an affluent area, so I wouldn't even say that you assumptions hold true to Toronto.

Except for Quebec, right?

Thats interesting, I'm from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and I think everyone is on these superboxes and have been for a very long time. I didn't even realize delivery to the house was a thing until I moved south.

Sir or madam, I'm impressed. I came upon reading about Whitehorse a few days ago when I contemplated a drive to Alaska from Illinois. Whitehorse is definitely off the beaten path

..Thanks, I guess :)

I actually drove up to Alaska as a tourist too and stumbled upon Whitehorse. I liked it so much I decided to come back and live here.

Unfortunately, it's very much not off the beaten path, it's quite literally on the Alaska Highway, and thus gets an enormous amount of through traffic in the summer.

These boxes will be robbed on a daily basis in places like Burnaby, Surrey and Vancouver where ID theft is rife on community mail boxes

I live in Burnaby, where we have a community mailbox. It's never been robbed, as far as I know. It's encased inside a secondary metal container so we need two keys to get to our mail. Meanwhile, home mailboxes (near the front door) are almost never locked.

If you want to do identity theft, garbage cans are where to look. They're almost never locked.

The metal cage is there because probably the boxes were robbed constantly ;) The pics I've seen of these new boxes don't have a cage but I imagine will when tons of theft happens.

I don't know how widespread it is in the US, but locally all the new developments have those community mailboxes, typically near the main entrance or perhaps several spaced around the neighborhood. I had assumed they are now mandatory as even in wealthy neighborhoods they are used.

Not every older are is more affluent. Houses in Parkdale get direct-to-door delivery.

I'll one-up Parkdale - I live in the Hammer. Come visit Beasley, I will show you the most beautiful century-home crack-dens you've ever seen.

True. In Toronto at least, old city single-family homes do tend to correspond to affluence though (with exceptions like Parkdale).

Does each person have their own mailbox, just all together (which is what most US apartment buildings have) or is it just a big open box with everyone's mail?

Everyone gets their own mailbox with a separate key, they're just all together in one place. They look like this:


Of note for non-Canadians - those big compartments at the bottom are "shared".

If you get a package that can fit in one that doesn't require a signature, the mail carrier will drop the package in there and put its key in your mail compartment. After you pick up your package, you drop the key off in the outbound mail slot at the top of the box. It's very convenient.

They do the same thing in the US at apartment buildings, subdivisions, even some streets with single family houses.

Not just a Canadian thing. I grew up with one of these in a typical sprawling Texas suburban development built in the 1980s. Now my parents live in much older suburb and have home delivery.

What happens if you don't return that key ? Can you easily make a replica to get the package of the next deliveries ?

The former.

> Only people who live in older, more affluent areas built before community mailboxes receive home mail delivery.

I'll debate that 'more affluent' part.

We don't know the economics of super boxes versus home delivery, and it would be perilously naive to assume that a move to it demonstrates that it is fiscally prudent. Money goes from one person's pocket to another person's pocket.

Superboxes are significant structures that have to be built and maintained to withstand literally unending vandalism and attempts at theft. They are urban blight, and most quickly become an eyesore that are, by federally forced mandate, pushed onto a community and then maintained at Canada Post's leisure and low level of standards. If any other business wanted to build such ominous structures throughout a neighborhood the barriers and costs would be enormous, and you talk about home delivery being subsidized? [In that self-destructive, race-to-the-bottom, worst-outcome-for-all way that is so disheartening].

Give me a break.

Where a mail carrier once walked briskly through a neighborhood (doubling as a set of eyes and ears in the community, for what that's worth), now they park their truck and sit at the superbox for half an hour while they sort mail into boxes.

I cannot, for the life of me, comprehend how it has made anything more efficient. And of course the grossly inefficient Canada Post of today, with sky-high postal rates and terrible service standards, already is horribly inefficient, so shouldn't the superbox thing have been proven by now?

And it's curious that you note their security given that most have keys that endure for years (from owner to owner to owner), and they are -- right now -- very common target for thieves: Why bother suspiciously going door to door (where the residents would be more likely to quickly retrieve their mail anyways, instead of some common box down the street) when you can pry open a superbox and steal the mail of dozens of people at once.


Canada Post has always been a derelict, massively dysfunctional corporation. Their parcel delivery service is only profitable because they don't deliver parcels: They give you a delivery notice and force you to drive to a depot n miles away in the most grotesquely inefficient delivery scheme devised by man.

The cost of community mail delivery is not unknown. CMBs have existed for decades and the article states that the cost of home delivery is 130% more. So I would submit that we do actually know the economics of it. The cost differential is about $762 million/year ($269-$117 * 5MM mailboxes).

I actually worked part-time as a mail carrier doing home delivery once. It's not easy work, especially in the winter. A lot of people don't maintain their driveways and walkways in the winter and it can be hazardous especially when you're carrying 15 kg or more of mail.

CMBs aren't high-security. But they're surely more secure than unlocked home mailboxes, especially in sleepy suburban neighbourhoods where no one is home for most of the day.

I don't disagree that Canada Post could likely save money in other ways. But this seems to be a rational place to start.

The cost of community mail delivery is not unknown.

Imagine that UPS figured that delivering packages to your door is a real sucker's game, and they were in a monopoly industry where they could unilaterally make moves that competitors couldn't competitively undermine.

So they want to build big, onerous, eyesore structures everywhere throughout a neighborhood.

How much do you think it would cost them to do that? What do you think they will pay to rent the spaces, for instance?

Canada Post pays nothing. The federal government just forced it on municipalities. To make this even more built on imaginary economics, Canada Post forces developers to pay for Canada Post to install the superboxes ($200 per address).

One of those beautiful forms of downloading that of course end-users pay for, but somehow it saves the end user money.

In any case, Canada Post does not publish numbers for CMBs. They publish numbers for group mailboxes (how credible and all inclusive they are we certainly don't know), which includes a massive array of group deliveries, of which superboxes are a subset.

I actually worked part-time as a mail carrier doing home delivery once. It's not easy work, especially in the winter.

I'm not saying it is. But what is happening here is a battle between the union and Canada Post, and both are a part of the problem. One of the reasons home delivery has so many imaginary expenses is that it is a secret known country wide that doing home delivery is a dream job because you are paid for the route, but most carriers can complete the route in a small fraction of a work day, though it is assessed, over long battled union rules, as a full work day.

It's a battle of imaginary work and imaginary expenses, and in the end everyone loses.

In Germany where postal delivery services are all private, your UPS example actually has happened.


The Deutsche Post DHL Packstations are tied into SMS notifications, and are an optional location you can have letters or parcels delivered to after you've registered for the service. They are located at places like supermarkets. I don't know for certain, but as a private company, I'm sure that DHL is covering the costs of the packstations and making it work from a business perspective.

Other package delivery services like Hermes take different approaches, using convenience stores, bookshops, and other small businesses in the area as package drop-off/pickup centres.

I always find it interesting how weirdly old-fashioned the discussion around mail service monopoly is in the US and Canada while 'socialist' Europe privatized the national postal systems years ago, and Deutsche Post fully lost their monopoly on letter delivery in 2008.

Yea but Germany isn't Silicon Valley. So no one cares. Amazon Lockers on the other hand are hyper innovative, because well... er... it's been done stateside. So it must be good. (Even though having lock boxes for each sender is completely inefficient. Do you really want to drive to your Amazon Locker, then your eBay Locker, then your Google Locker... you get the idea?)

As I understood the product, your "amazon locker" was your local 7-11. I imagine there's not a major difference in efficiency between having your "amazon locker" at 7-11 along with your conceptually-different "ebay locker", vs having your unified "postal services locker" at 7-11.

In the UK it's both [1]. There's big yellow metal boxes [2] and if there isn't one in the area they deliver to the "7-11" who is probably providing Collect+ [3] type service.

[1]: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeI...

[2]: http://www.amazon.co.uk/b?ie=UTF8&node=2594544031

[3]: http://www.collectplus.co.uk/

7-11 has been acting as a logistics and pick up service for ecommerce deliveries in Japan since the 1990s iirc. But 7-11 is way more ubiquitous in Japan.

You raise a good point that Canada Post doesn't pay a true market cost for the real estate its CMBs sit on. But this is the nature of a quasi-public monopoly. But that's the price we pay for you to be able to send a letter from anywhere, to anywhere.

You raise another good point that the cost of home delivery is inflated by the pay-by-distance union rules. But this issue is close to intractable. Given the political reality of this situation, do you think postal workers will give up these rules without a long, disruptive strike? Do you think the government wants to get within 10 miles of another postal strike?

| But that's the price we pay for you to be able to send a letter from anywhere, to anywhere.

Except now, it's not anywhere, it's somewhat adjacent to anywhere.

That's just a matter of resolution. Canada Post never did deliver to say, the inbox on your desk, you always had to go to the mailbox to pick up your mail.

What the GP means is that Canada Post serves all areas of the country. If you try to send a package to a rural area via UPS, they'll charge you courier rates and then just mail it for you.

One of the other big factors that hasn't been touched upon here is the cost of boxes vs the true cost of carriers. As we know, one of the largest cost's for these employees is the benefits and pension. So without numbers, just guessing, I would say that it would take a lot of boxes to cover the cost of salaries, benefits and pension for 8000 federal staff.

The article gives the average costs: The average cost of door-to-door delivery is $269 per address per year. The average cost of group mailboxes is $117 per address per year.

It's easy to understand why. It takes less time and effort to deliver to a group mailbox. (The mail has to be sorted regardless of which delivery method is used.)

It's not Canada Post's mandate to act as federally-paid community watchmen in the middle of the day.

If you think Canada Post is dysfunctional, just read some reports about the US Postal Service. In Canada, Canada Post outlets are often found within other businesses (e.g. pharmacies), to share infrastructure costs. That's rare in the US, where postal outlets are usually stand-alone.

Personally, I've never viewed the Canada Post superboxes as "eyesores" or "ominous". They blend into the typical Canadian streetscape and are no more remarkable than street lamps, signs, artificial concrete sidewalks or paved roads.

As far as security is concerned, as someone who lives in a household where no one is around the take the mail in during the day, I'd much rather have something confidential delivered to my locked superbox down the street than have it delivered to an unlocked mailbox near my front door that anyone can access freely.

I'm not relishing the sight of these in Montreal. I don't think they'll blend in:


Wow, I've also never seen that many together. Its somehow not surprising that Canada Post couldn't get it together with the city to intersperse those with recycling boxes. Disgusting.

That's ugly! I've never seen that type of configuration before. Typically what I've seen are the individual boxes peppered throughout neighbourhoods.

Oh, that would be much better. I just grabbed one of the first images that came up in a search. Could be the media purposefully choose ugly options to sensationalize the story.

Come on, don't be such a NIMBY.

I don't think that's a proper use of NIMBY. NIMBY refers to something like a waste treatment plant. Society needs it somewhere, and everyone would prefer it to be in someone else's backyard.

This mailbox proposal would put mailboxes in everyone's backyard.

>Why bother suspiciously going door to door (where the residents would be more likely to quickly retrieve their mail anyways, instead of some common box down the street) when you can pry open a superbox and steal the mail of dozens of people at once.

Suspiciously door-to-door? Slap a newspaper bag over your shoulder like you're delivering fliers and go collect everyone's mail.

Quickly retrieve their mail? Most people are at work for hours before and after the mail is delivered.

I've lived in communities with both services. I prefer home delivery, because it's more convenient to me. But if you think it's easier to break into the super-boxes than it is to steal someone's home delivered mail, you're out of your mind. Luckily, community morals make either mostly a non-issue.

It is harder, from a criminal perspective you are taking too much risk whereas you can pop a jackpot with a running getaway vehicle beside you. That's why there is rampant CMB theft and not so much home theft. You could also jack a postie for their keys and clear out every box in the neighborhood quickly eapecially on welfare cheque day something they already do a lot of in Burnaby/Surrey from what I've heard from CPC hq

> That's why there is rampant CMB theft

Rampant? 4800 issues reported in BC over a 5 year period[1], in a province with over 20,000 community mailboxes. Issues include non-theft things like graffiti and other vandalism. Haven't found more detailed info, would appreciate a link if you have one.

1: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/super-mailbox...

The article says there are currently 20,000 mailboxes. It doesn't mention how many there were in 2008 - it sounds like community mailboxes are increasing rapidly.

>You could also jack a postie

The level of audacity it takes to assault and rob a government employee, versus casually walking into someone's driveway and grabbing their mail are not even close.

I have people delivering fliers to my mailbox multiple times a week. It would take no effort for them to grab my mail and stick it in their sack.

But again, I don't think "the ease at which your mail can be stolen" should even be part of this argument, as it's apparently significantly low in most cases.

Thanks for giving me an excuse to post this :)


All your arguments against "super boxes" also work against post boxes where you drop off your mail - which work fine (at least, it does here in the UK).

Admittedly one-to-many box is a more complicated device than a many-to-one, but the principal is still the same - it is perfectly possible to maintain such infrastructure, anyway.

Wow! Look at that sharp decline in volume of mail! It's now 10% of what it was 4 years ago!

Oh, wait, the horizontal axis doesn't start at 0.

Here is a graph with zeroed X-axis.


At the average rate of decline (constant ~4.5% decrease in mail delivered per year), it should reach 10% of 2008's usage by 2050. This obviously does not reflect reality, and it's just a napkin calculation.

Curious to know how much of that is spam. Since the advent of email, nearly everything that ends in my own mailbox are bills and statements, government-related correspondence, the occasional e-commerce related package and (shit tons of) spam. If the two former went full electronic, there would be very little point in having a mailbox at all -- unless you actually read your spam.

Little known fact: almost all of the spam (at least in my area) is not postal delivery. Private couriers deliver it. You can affix a "pas de pub" (no ads) sticker to your mailbox, and it stops. (It's possible the post also stops some spam delivery with this notice)

I havne't received junk mail in over a year.

Canada Post delivers junk mail to my private mailbox. Changed my bills to online (for those I could) and posted letter-stickers to my mailbox saying "No Admail Please" and now I get 0 spam mailings. Also opted out of CMA marketing, including opting out former residents addresses.

I find it amusing that email spam is such an issue for people, but physical mail and SMS spam is not. At least in South Africa, I really can't find a way to report SMS spam so I just keep on receiving it. And who the hell would I have to speak to in order to stop receiving shit in my physical mailbox

They seemed to have fixed the graph, by the way.

Agree, that is an awful chart.

The most lucrative part of mail delivery, parcel post, is doing well. Canada Post also owns 91% of Purolator, another parcel delivery service similar to UPS or Fedex, which is also doing just fine.

To me, this is the same as telcos complaining about the last mile problem. It's expensive to deliver something to someone's house, particularly when people choose to live in sprawling neighborhoods with little connectivity in terms of roads. If I have to drive to someone's house, would I rather deliver a letter for 60 cents or less (bulk mail), or a parcel for $4 to $10?

Just like the telcos, the government grants the postal service a monopoly on first class letters so that they, amongst other things, guarantee connectivity to remote parts of the country at a flat rate. If that's important either the government has to pony up tax money to provide the service, or the cost of the service has to go up. One thing the government has been unwilling to do is charge different prices depending on how much a letter actually costs to send. I'm certain people in remote communities might balk, but maybe dynamic pricing makes sense, particularly when anyone can print their own postage with cheap laser/inkjet printers.

Note: they only proposed this idea, they haven't confirmed it. Just like in August when they were asking the government for money, they proposed cutting delivery to every-other day. With this announcement, they got the bail-out money and are now proposing a much more drastic solution. Neither have been implemented.

When I moved to the suburbs, I thought I would hate the community mailboxes, but they've actually turned out to be handy, because most small and mid sized packages can be securely delivered into the community mailbox.

Larger packages or those that require a signature are usually dropped off at the mail depot at a nearby drug store, which is open late.

When I buy online, especially from the US, I try to ship via USPS for this reason (also because they don't add exorbitant Canadian brokerage fees the way UPS and FedEx do).

Yes, shipping to Canada from the US via USPS is generally the best option because they'll handle customs clearance. I've had FedEx abandon packages in the oddest places and had to go and pick them up and clear customs for them myself.

Yes, UPS (the courier) are thieves when it comes to outrageous "brokerage" fees. Unfortunately a lot of places won't ship USPS (the post office) because they can't get a signature as proof of delivery.

I just bought a $150 item, of which $20 was shipping and then had to pay $60 COD to UPS at the door, of which $40 was a brokerage fee to UPS (the rest was duty and tax).

Outrageous is an understatement.

Next time you get a package from UPS just don't answer the door.

1) Call/Email UPS and request a commercial invoice and the depot the parcel is being held at. If it's not being held at a depot tell them you want to self-clear and for them to hold it. You may have to argue with them for a while to convince them this is a possibility.

2) Go to a CBSA office with the original receipt, commercial invoice and depot location, and pay taxes to get your B15 form. You shouldn't pay taxes on shipping.

3) Call UPS and ask them where you can send the B15 form.

4) Send them the B15 form with your tracking number on it and ask them to release your package.

>> Next time you get a package from UPS just don't answer the door.

Well you actually have to do it way before that. My package was held at the border in Windsor/Detroit for a few days before it cleared. Once it's on a truck to your house, it's already too late to avoid brokerage fees.

What's sad is that UPS actually offers a slightly higher rate (only a few bucks more) that bypasses the brokerage fees, etc on shipments to Canada.

The problem is that most smaller online sellers don't know about it or care to research it.

You can decide to self clear at any point before accepting the package. It doesn't matter if they've made you an invoice or not.

Yeah, that's totally convenient, fast and easy! I'll just spend several hours of my time (at $200/hour) on the phone and driving around town ($50 in gas) to clear that package and save $20.

It's the principal. I live close enough to an airport CBSA office that it just takes an hour of my time and a few emails.

Dumb question. Does the US have these tariffs on consumer products and I've just never noticed? As a canuck, I feel a bit oppressed dealing with all the paperwork around customs. Does this actually bring the govt a lot of revenue?

They already bought most of the boxes. I know this from doing contract work for CPC and heard them talking about buying them 3 weeks ago. I asked to look at the design just to see what kind of security measures are present and you can make a pinhole drill beside the lock and pop the whole thing. Of course nobody there thought this is a problem

I would much rather see the move to every-other-day delivery. I don't need daily mail. But I'd rather avoid the blight and inconvenience of communal mailboxes.

I've lived in downtown Montreal for the last ten years. For as long as I can remember, they've been doing exactly this with packages. Even if you're home, the mailman will just leave a slip saying that you can pick up your package at the local Canada Post outlet.

I have to wonder whether this will mean a huge boon to mail scanning services like outboxmail.com

One feature that I like:

If you have a newer community mailbox, smaller packages get left in a larger compartment in the community mailbox and they leave the compartment key in your own mailbox.

After you pick it up, you drop the key in the outbound mail compartment. It's very handy if you're not home to receive packages. In a way, it's like BufferBox.

The larger compartments are barely the size of a regular mailbox here in France though.

So, while I can understand the desire to reduce costs on the part of Canada Post, I thought they offered zero convenience to users.

And going out in the cold and the snow to fetch my mail in winter in a sidewalk-less neighbourhood was really not a pleasant experience (even if they were not very far from our house).

In Canada we have winter weather 6-8 months of the year. We LOVE going out in the cold. We play in the cold. We drink in the cold. We go out naked in the cold (after a hot tub session).

Well, that's not what people say while they're shoveling the snow out of their driveway just after the snow plow filled it with snow from the street, though.

Or when they slip in the slush and ruin their mail when coming back from the community mailbox.

Do you know of a mail scanner service that works in Canada?

Canada Post itself offers one for bills. It's called ePost.

I wouldn't call ePost a mail scanner. It's a service that attempts to collate electronic bills in one place but won't collate payment options and more often than not just redirects you to the service's own website. It requires the support of the company and my opinion is, after briefly testing out the service and having it screw up all sorts of billing info for my accounts, that it's worse than useless.

It's a great idea. I think that as time goes on, less and less mail will be sent.

I don't even open my mail anymore. They are just bills. I look at the sender, and then log onto their website. It's almost like a reminder, incase I forget to pay a bill.

Actually, now that I think of it, I only get bills from 1 or 2 companies. The other text/email me.

Why not significantly increase the price of bulk mailing? More money for the post office, less advertisements in my mailbox. win-win. If they increase the price too much the reduction in usage will more than offset the increase in price, but I doubt that they're close to that yet.

At least in the US, bulk mail subsidizes the rest of the system, because it's a system with very high fixed costs spread over a larger volume.

Apparently they're struggling on bulk deliveries too since so many people are opting out[1].

[1] http://globalnews.ca/news/585922/canada-post-opts-for-junk-m...

I wish that first chart extended back to say... 1996.

I think it would have given a better scale to indicate how much the rise of the internet has effected traditional mail delivery.

For being a developed country Canada has pretty terrible parcel and mail delivery, largely due to wonky regulations. Canada Post is horrible and UPS is excessively expensive for no good reasons. It's held back the advance of e-commerce there significantly.

Really? I am generally happier when a company offers Canada Post as a shipping option.

I don't have to worry about being home to sign for the package, and for stuff coming from the US via USPS, I don't have to worry about exorbitant surcharges from the likes of Fedex or UPS.

OTOH, it's nice that UPS Canada's standard shipping no longer requires you to be at home (signature not required) but you also have to worry about people stealing your package if you live in a dodgy neighborhood.

Personally, my experience shipping with Canada Post, UPS, FedEx and Purolator to and from urban and rural areas in Canada has been overwhelmingly positive over the years.

After being burned by brokerage fees, industrial-zone depots, misconnected packages, and incompetent delivery men through various private couriers, I always insist on Canada Post.

They're not perfect, but they're definitely the least awful option.

As a frequent Canada Post user, it still gets me that it's cheaper to send something to Europe or the US than it is to a fellow Canadian.

What factors allow USPS to be cheaper for the consumer while providing better service?

Unbelievable. Looking around, it looks like postal system are often operating at a loss. Looks like an industry that could use some fresh eyes.

Not everything is meant to be run for-profit.

The main thing screwing over the USPS is the moronic and absurd requirement that they pre-fund retirement for people who don't even work there yet. And then when they try to petition to change their policies to deal with the shortfalls (no Saturday delivery, etc), congress smacks 'em down.

I can understand not being for-profit, but operating at such a loss is absurd in it's own right. Adding even 1c per stamp would be a major improvement to the bottom line.

Australia Post has had 3 consecutive years of growth with a group profit of $312 million after tax last year. They offset their regulated business (eg mail delivery) which loses $218 million a year with things like parcel delivery that are very profitable and growing. In a country where everything generally costs far more than other places stamps are 60c. I wonder how long that is sustainable.

Perhaps increased competition in the Canadian market makes it harder for them to make the profits needed to subsidise their mail delivery.

I'd love to see some cooperation between courier services when it comes to last-mile delivery services. Any package sent to me via international air-mail, which is cheap compared to most couriers, goes through canada post's last mile. This is actually pretty brilliant. If the package is small and no duties are required to be paid, it goes right in the superbox on my street. If it's larger or requires duties, it goes to the nearest canada post station, which is about a five minute walk from my house. Canada post stations are everywhere and have great coverage.

Compare this to UPS or Purolator (which Canada post owns the majority of). They always try to deliver packages in between noon and 5pm, when I (and probably most other people) am never home. They each have one bloody depot in the city, open roughly 12-5 naturally, and it's a freakin' half-hour drive out of the way. Invariably, I have to go out of my way to drive over to their office to pick up my packages because they are incapable of delivery during the hours I am home (and they won't just drop off packages over a certain value). Though purolator may be owned by Canada post, they do not use Canada Post's last-mile infrastructure. Horrendous! Isn't the point of paying extra for a courier convenience?

If Canada Post were to take over last-mile delivery from UPS and Purolator, or at least take over the failed deliveries so customers only have to go to the local post-office, they could bring in extra cash while vastly improving service to customers. Why on Earth isn't this being done, if not for UPS (which can burn in HELL for all I care), at the very least for Purolator?

P.S. UPS is utter bloody crap for cross-border shipments. Any U.S. vendor who only ships via UPS does not get my business. The common joke up here is that "UPS stands for Use Purolator Stupid!".

The last mile handover is usually where things go horribly wrong.

That's why vendors that operate internationally choose UPS, the only courier that can deliver from a factory in China to a doorstep almost anywhere on the planet without having to hand it over to local services, which will vary wildly in quality.

Also, nobody wants to pay the extortionate prices an old school state monopoly like Canada Post apparently is. It always surprises me that North-America holds on to their state systems where in Europe all of this is being privatized and post offices are disappearing. The monopolistic postal service is exactly why competitors can't invest in a better service.

You must be in the U.S., because you have no clue what kind of shenanigans UPS plays. For example, if a package crosses international borders, certain brokerage forms need to be filled out. You can do this yourself, but most carriers include this in the price of postage. UPS only includes it in their most expensive level of shipping. If you use UPS ground, for example, they'll tack on brokerage fees unless you do the brokerage yourself, and the fees are disproportionate! $50 on a $200 package is typical. You either have to resign yourself to wasting time on forms or buy the expensive UPS shipping, because the cheap shipping will actually be more expensive after brokerage! UPS is also very sneaky when it comes to letting you know you can do the forms yourself. Several times, UPS reps have told me I couldn't do it unless I went in person to the port the package entered the country through! This is not true, but they keep telling customers that.

In short, UPS can suck it. Horrible, horrible company. They're fine if you're shipping from the U.S. to the U.S., or perhaps even from China to the U.S, but from the U.S. to Canada they are horrendous. Avoid at all costs!

Canada Post is an entity that sustains itself solely by delivering direct marketing junk mail. As a Canadian citizen I would prefer to see it disappear entirely. If people need things physically sent to them they should rely on the private sector (FedEx, Purolator, etc).

Such a system would reduce waste and encourage digital of documents, invoices, etc. +1.

What if they made the door-to-door delivery a premium subscription that one could opt-in? That could provide some revenue to offset the losses they are posting. If you decided not to get it, your mail goes to the community mailbox.

I doubt that makes much economic sense. If the delivery person has to walk to your door, he or she might as well deliver to all the doors in between.

and they could price that into the model. A person's price is $50/month - $10 per neighbor that is signed up.

There's also the extra emissions factor. Instead of human powered clean energy they will all have vehicles, which no doubt will cost extra in gas and vehicle maint costs when we are supposed to be moving away from fossil fuels

Small but perhaps worthwhile thought - I didn't see argued or tested that reduced convenience of mailbox locations and delivery might actually reduce the pieces of mail delivered using Canada Post.

Here in the US (I know, I know - different) a great deal of my daily mail is marketing material. I would definitely not walk to my post box to reach it so the reach / impact for advertisers would go down. Reduced impact would bring reduced spending. I think mailed marketing material is somewhat outmoded and wasteful, but I definitely still see it and thumb through my catalogs.

I'm not sure I follow. Wouldn't you still have to check your mail anyway for something that is non-marketing material? Once you're at the box, you might as well take whatever's there, right?

A common problem is that people simply don't pick up the marketing mail (or worse, drop it on the ground next to the community mailbox). It piles up until their mailbox is full, and then the local postal worker knocks on your door and reminds you to be a nice person and pick up your mail.

That seems like a great opportunity! Put a big recycling bin right there, but before recycling the contents go through and catalog the mass marketing mail that was discarded without being read. Then sell that information back to the marketers. Less waste, more targeted mailings, money for the post office, everyone wins!

Yeah, I'm kidding... though it might actually work.

I could see this leading to some interesting community discussion: "So, who's the ONE guy in the neighborhood that doesn't discard his Visa ads, and is responsible for all the mail we get?"

Can't you put a sticker on so you won't get marketing material? In Germany you can sue parties who still put it into your mailbox.

IMO all things of importance fall into two categories 1) it can be sent electronically or 2) it is important enough to go get it from a central location (be it central boxes or a depot for bigger items).

Additionally: If mobility is an issue and its a good that must come physically to you (prescription for example), then its of value to pay UPS/Fedex/DHL/Competitor to come to your door.

Great idea. Remember that in Montreal, you have to climb outdoor stairs covered with ice to get to the mailbox. Or roads blocked with snow.

Easier to have a common area. We already have that outside cities anyway.

And of course, there's someone posting about the US Postal Service in the comments.

Assuming you're talking about the same comment I'm looking at, they do try to suggest "a North America wide attempt by Conservative Party's to destroy the Public Postal service and in turn destroy two of the largest unions." which makes it relevant.

That's funny because you kind of did the same thing here :)

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