When the lockout was happening at Canada Post, it made me wonder how, in this day and age, private courier firms can still seem to f*ck things up so royally compared to a Crown Corporation.

I imagine that in the business world, door-to-door courier delivery is pretty much a settled affair. But in a world of online retailers, there are a lot of consumers that need packages delivered, and they only really see the receiving side. The demands are not that absurd:

  • Ship to home, or somewhere close by. We don’t want stuff sent to work.
  • If we don’t pick it up at home, leave it somewhere that is convenient to get to from home.
  • Give some advance notice before delivering.

If I order something from Amazon or Indigo and it comes in by Canada Post, I usually would miss the delivery, but it will be waiting at the nearby post office by the time I’m off work. I go home, retrieve the delivery notice, and have what I ordered by the end of the day.

But heaven forbid I order something and make the mistake of shipping by FedEx (ClearlyContacts) or I’m forced to choose UPS (TigerDirect). The usual process is:

  1. The order is carefully tracked online from the warehouse, my anticipation building.
  2. Eventually, while I’m at work, the delivery guy will go to my apartment. No one knows when he’ll get there. If it’s UPS and no signature required, it will be left prominently in the doorway. That is, where any random person can take it.
  3. I am faced with a conundrum: either waste everyone’s time by having the delivery person repeatedly come to my apartment until he gives up and tells me to pick it up at a depot in the middle of nowhere, or pay more to have it shipped to the local courier store.
  4. Eventually, about a week after the time I would’ve received said item from Canada Post, I’ve paid more to get the same bloody thing.

I have no idea why they make me jump through hoops to do this. UPS and FedEx have locations everywhere but one cannot actually receive anything from them. Shipping with Canada Post is like playing darts: it’s not expected to hit the bull’s eye every time, but generally at least the dart makes contact with the dartboard. UPS and FedEx are like NATO snipers in Afghanistan, setting world records for accuracy when on target, but off by half a heartbeat and the bullet is sixty miles away in the woods. This is not a system to take pride in, in an age where the vast majority of parcel demands are not asking for pinpoint precision in the first place.

A more recent experience with DHL proved much more accomodating: they called when I was at work, and I had them reschedule. The time was still relatively nebulous, but work and home are close enough for me that it wasn’t a major issue and I picked up my package before it got swallowed up by the innards of the courier system. I don’t understand why nobody else tries this.

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