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Canada Post makes huge changes, becomes even less relevant

A little over a year ago, I wrote about how the post office in Canada might reinvent itself. I was thinking out loud, for sure; but I was also thinking of was the post office could continue during a time of serious change. Fast forward, and news of Canada Post recently announced a slew of changes to the way it operates and delivers mail. For most of us, this means worse service, for a more expensive rate. This is what a company looks like when has no idea how to change beyond reactionary measures. For all Canadians, this should be incredibly disappointing for a service that forms such an important part of our society’s infrastructure.

What’s changing? If you haven’t heard the recent news, here’s a list of what Canada Post is about to do to those using its service:

1. Starting March 31, 2014, the cost of a stamp will rise from 63 cents to 1 dollar. An incredible increase of more than 58%. Since Canada Post also sells stamps that are “permanent”, the corporation is also stopping the sales of stamps until the increase takes effect.

2. Canada Post will eliminate 6,000 to 8,000 positions within the company.

3. Urban communities that receive mail by way of a door-to-door delivery will see mail sent to a community mailbox, presumably local to them.

Wow, that’s quite a list. It really pains me to write this, because of how unique Canada Post’s position was to reinvent and innovate. Rather than doing any of that, they have decided to sit on their hands until in a money-losing position – then stick it to the people they serve. Not exactly the actions of a company that wants to stay relevant right?

While lots of attention had been paid to the impact on the less mobile users of the post office when community boxes are installed, the bigger picture effect of these changes will alienate a user base that is dwindling rapidly. More and more people will turn to alternatives that are free or low cost because Canada Post offers nothing that remotely competes. Would you force someone to walk out to a box around the corner over sending the very same message instantly for nothing? This isn’t new either, the post office has known about email for at least a couple of decades.

The very last bastion of hope for Canada Post is business letters, and those too are seeing numbers drop. When years ago Calwell would send invoices and letters mostly on paper, not even 1% of our customers currently receive mail-in envelopes. This is a massive shift, that Canada Post did nothing to mitigate the damage. They may say that ePost services were created for this very reason, but when most (if not all) bill providers offer some sort of electronic bill service, coupled with online bank payments, why would anyone use this service right now?

The news is indeed grim for those that see Canada Post as a national institution. Perhaps what becomes of Canada Post is a simple letter mail service, paid for with our taxes, relegated to only the most important letter mail and registered mail services. Junk mail will be handled by other, lower-cost alternatives. In that kind of world, Canada Post might be able to operate on a skeleton crew – a forgotten gem from a time when getting and sending mail was a pleasure. With these changes, I see myself sending no letter mail unless forced to do so. Do you think Canada Post will turn the tide with these measures?