Make Canada Post Profitable - Expand (or use drones?)

Imagine You Owned a Company

If your company lost $109 million for the third quarter of 2013, would you heave a sigh of relief?

The Canada Post Corporation did both. It lost $109 million for that quarter & it heaved a sigh of relief. But then it was entitled to heave that sigh, because the result was a lot better than the loss of $145 million it sustained in the same quarter of 2012.

And even better, the Postal segment of the companies lost only $131 million for the third quarter of 2013, compared to a loss of $160 million in the same quarter of 2012.

To be fair, fewer and fewer people are sending letters; what with Skype, texting, email, facebook U-Tube, and twitter, there is no point. Nowadays you don’t need to wait a few days before you receive news via letter post – you can have it immediately. You don’t need to wait for bills via letter mail either, you can get them via the internet, and not only that, you can pay the bills via the internet as well. Soon we won’t need to leave the house to receive and pay bills. And gossiping over the garden fence became obsolete decades ago.

Parcels are the only things that can’t be sent via the up-to-date communications systems, and I wouldn’t bet on that being impossible for much longer. Considering that invisibility blankets are now on the testing table, it shouldn’t be much longer before someone invents a method of materialising your purchase onto your lap.

Canada Post commissioned a report which concluded that the firm would have an annual loss of $1 billion per year by 2020. That’s a helluva lot of money to lose, but luckily it is the sole shareholder who will be responsible for this shortfall. And that sole shareholder is the Government of Canada. Now read the first five words in the article again. If you are Canadian, you don’t need to imagine you own a company; you own Canada Post. Doesn’t that give you a cozy warm feeling in your purse?

A typical United Kingdom letter box
A typical United Kingdom letter box
A typical Canadian town mail box - the black box to the left.
A typical Canadian town mail box - the black box to the left.
A typical Canadian rural mail box
A typical Canadian rural mail box

It's Time for Expanding not Closing!

Canada Post is taking steps to rectify this horrendous loss. It is following the path normally taken when a firm is losing money; it is closing branches and firing employees.

And… they are also trying a different approach. Until the Christmas season is over, they are in partnership with some retailers to guarantee same day delivery – sorry, make that same evening delivery. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I don’t have to stay in and wait for Postal deliveries; it’s bad enough having to remain indoors as you wait for UPS deliveries.

I have the perfect solution for Canada Post’s woes. Deliver only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the two most boring days of the week.

Not only would that save fuel and salaries, it would please every customer who is waiting for a bill; yes, some firms still send them via snail-mail. Think of the joy of being able to say… ‘Bill? What Bill? I haven’t received a bill.’…and be able to say it without feeling guilty.

Believe it or not, the ‘twice a week’ delivery would guarantee extra jobs, as larger sorting stations would have to be built to store the piling up goods; in fact the sorting stations would have to be HUGE for them to hold all the extra parcels. There would be snags of course; letter boxes would have to be increased in size.

[Let me explain first of all about letter boxes for those readers who live in the United Kingdom. In the UK you have letter boxes built into outside doors; stylish letter boxes that blend in with your door shape and colour. If you tried to cut any kind of hole in a Canadian outside door, not only would you get sued, you’d also freeze to death.]

In cities there are banks of mail boxes in the Post Offices, and apartment buildings have their own banks of mail boxes. Apart from that, the Canadian ‘letter box’ is a ‘mail box’ and it is fitted outside the house, usually beside the front door. All the mailman has to do is lift the flap up and drop the mail into the box. All of these banks of mail boxes and door side mail boxes would have to be increased in size - giving more work for retailers and odd-job-men.

In modern suburbia, the homes have banks of mail boxes at the start of the housing scheme, to save the mail being delivered to each and every home. These would have to be immensely increased in size, perhaps requiring engineering and construction firms to change them – more jobs.

In rural Canada, mail boxes are used at the road end of the driveway. This means the mail can be dropped into the mail boxes from the mail van, which can be driven along the wrong side of the road if necessary, with the amber flashing lights to warn other road users.

A handy part of the rural mail boxes is the red arm; when the mailman has dropped in the mail he/she can raise the red lever to signify to the owner that mail has been delivered. This red arm is necessary because the home the mail box belongs to could be half a mile away up a driveway, and the owner could require binoculars to distinguish if they had any mail. When the mail box owners pick up the mail they are supposed to lower the red arm. (If the arm is upright the day following delivery, it indicates that the box owner has some mail to be picked up and posted.)

Mail boxes have to be a precise height from the ground so that the mailman can insert the mail at vehicle window level, and they are liable to be moved if they are built in a dangerous situation - yet more jobs and extra revenue for retailers and mail box manufacturers.


Split the 49th parallel in two

P.S. Any Canadian who has purchased goods from eBay or other internet trading firms will have come across the ‘We don’t deliver to Canada message. This is extremely embarrassing. Canadian internet firms don’t deliver to third world countries in case of theft, or political turmoil. Does this mean that Canada is a third world country to the United States of America?

Presently, to overcome this embarrassment, we as a family, have goods delivered across the St. Lawrence at a US post office. The post office phones us when the parcel arrives and we go across and pick it up – then we have some explaining to do at Canadian Customs – not so much embarrassment there as understanding.

Why don’t the Canadian & American Post Offices get together? They could build a sorting station straddling both borders. The side in the US could be the ‘care of’ part for American parcels aimed at Canada? After the parcels have been checked, they could be shunted over to the Canadian side for normal Canada post deliveries. Doesn’t that sound like a feasible idea, or is it too sensible?

P.P.S. Canada Post own 91% of a firm called Purolator. Purolator deliver parcels for Canada Post. According to Wikipaedia, Purolator is an abbreviated form of ‘Pure Oil Later,’ from when the company was owned by a US oil and filter manufacturer. If this is so, why didn’t they change the name? And why is it PuroLATOR, instead of PuroLATER?

Couldn’t they have, at the very least have named it PuroSOONER?

There you go…not only Canada Post’s problems solved but thousand of extra jobs for the International Community. Please guys, no statue, you’ll have me blushing, and you know I’m averse to pigeon poop.

Delivery by Drone?

Let's hope that Canada Post don’t look towards Amazon’s ‘octocopter’ to lift it into profit. At the beginning of December, Amazon’s CEO promised delivery by drone within a few years.

Could this be science fact at last, instead of science fiction? Dream on. Consider what drones are being used for at the moment. Their prime purpose is spying – and dropping bombs in Pakistan. If Amazon were going to use drones to deliver parcels, there would have to be a huge stride in their delivery capabilities.

At the moment drones drop things – period. If your purchase was a rare crystal vase, you will know when it is delivered by the explosive noise it makes as it is dropped from a great height. The same thing would apply to electronics and any fragile item.

If octocopters ever come into being, all our mail boxes will have to open facing skywards, and they would have to sign a delivery note for you. And, God help your parcel if there is a high wind, a flock of marauding pigeons, or a hunter.

To deliver things they would have to be able to land, at the correct address, or hover while you signed for the parcel; then it would have to take off again. And when it comes to finding the correct address, GPS is a wonderful thing, but it still directs my visitors to the pizza delivery place on the next block.

I'll rely on my mailman, if you don't mind

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Comments 8 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Very interesting. Went through all this with US mail and the big decision was to close on Saturdays, which was fine by me but then they vetoed that. Then they decided to start selling stuff...I mean besides packaging and stamps and thankfully they thought better of that. lol

Fun read. ^


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Sounds like the mess there is as tangled as the mess here. We have different reasons. What to fix the revenue issues, charge UPS, FEDEX, etc, surcharges on the public roads, airways, airports, etc. Here also the lobbiest have pushed unreasonable requirements on retirement funding to try and strangle the U.S Postal Service for the benefit of the likes of said carriers. Good to see you writing.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

Jackie: Thanks for reading and commenting. It seems to be the same in the UK as well. I assume the changing social media is having the same affect worldwide. Perhaps the Canadian Post Office will start selling cars or ski-doos to make up the margin.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

mckbirdbks: I appreciate your reading and commenting Mike. I'm pleased to be writing again as well, but I think I'll have to work on my sense of humour. Many years ago in the UK, a 10 year called John, heard about the old age pension coming into being. The 10 year old said 'That'll never work- think of what's going to happen when there are more old people than workers." So I was right, but I'll still take the pension.

The Canadian government say they are going to balance the books within 2 years - I look forward to it.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

The U.S. Postal Service operates under the same losing-money proposition and is billions in the hole each year. Omitting Saturday delivery could help but that has not been approved. I laughed when you mentioned invisible mail delivery because Amazon is not sitting around twiddling its respective thumbs. They are researching the idea of using miniature drones to deliver orders the same day as the order is placed. Imagine! In a short time that could become a reality.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

drbj: I appreciate your visit and comment drbj. Canada Post are now talking about stopping deliveries to homes completely. Within a few years we will all have to pick up our own mail. That should be interesting for the disabled among us.


klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

I liked the humour injected into this, John. It will be an end of an era to see Canada Post go. The loss of services is a concern, not to mention the increase in the price of a stamp.


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence Author

klidstone1970: Thank you for visiting and commenting, klidstone.

As you know, the price of a stamp is exorbitant already, and when it comes to mailing parcels abroad, the price is horrendous. It's time Canada Post became privately owned.

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