Canada Post Rates Rant

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So I have this book that I was going to ship to Toronto. Here are the specifications:

Weight: 300 grams
Length: 210 mm
Width: 135 mm
Height: 25 mm

Shipping from Vancouver to Toronto via Canada Post Regular Parcel is $10.34 with a delivery standard of 5-10 business days. I thought that was grossly expensive for a very light, average-sized paperback novel. So I checked some other quotes:

  • Shipping from Vancouver to Florida via "Small Packet USA Surface" is only $6.65 with a delivery standard of 6-12 business days. It is both cheaper and barely slower than Canada Post's Regular Parcel service.
  • Shipping from Vancouver to Florida via "Small Packet USA Air" is only $7.90 with a delivery standard of 6-12 business days. It is both cheaper and barely slower than Canada Post's Regular Parcel service. I would expect that this Air Mail would be closer to 6 days and the surface would be closer to 12.
  • With FedEx Ground from Vancouver to Toronto it costs only $12.48 with a 4-day delivery standard (note: with a FedEx account it would be even cheaper). Only slightly cheaper than Canada Post's Regular Parcel, and a far better delivery guarantee.

Trim the package down a bit, to a height of just 20mm (instead of 25g) and a weight of about 250g (instead of 300g), about the size of another book I have here with me, and the price becomes only $2.49 from Vancouver to Toronto with Canada Post Lettermail and $2.99 to the US with Canada Post US Lettermail or $3.96 to the US with Canada Post US Light Packet. The prices suddenly change drastically even though the weight has barely changed.

Here are my observations:

  • Why is shipping to Florida cheaper than shipping to Toronto? I don't see how that can ever make sense, unless of course it crosses the border in Vancouver quickly and gets handed off to USPS and they are far cheaper than Canada Post. I wouldn't be surprised as I have read that USPS is much cheaper. Is Canada Post justified in having rates higher than USPS? If they are sending the package by truck, it could be most costly to drive to Toronto than to drive to Florida. Unless of course they drove to Toronto via the US :-)
  • Why is FedEx Ground with a 4-day delivery only 21% more expensive than Canada Post's 5-10 business day standard? Either FedEx Ground is highly efficient, or they are not charging enough, or Canada Post is highly inefficient or charging too much.
  • Why does reducing the package's volume by 20% and the weight by 17% lead to a 76% reduction in price? This does not make sense at all. Normally you would expect a letter and a small parcel to both have some fixed cost associated with the handling that needs to be done. So let's assume a fixed cost of $0.10 for the letter and $0.10 for a parcel. Let's say the letter weighs 0.1 kg and a small parcel weighs 1 kg. There should be some variable cost to send the package that is proportional to the weight to transport it. Let's say $1/kg. So the letter's variable cost is $0.10 and the parcel's variable cost is $1. So the letter costs a total of $0.20 and the parcel costs $1.10. The parcel weighs 900% more but it costs only 550% more. This makes sense, because of the fixed costs with each item. In my example, a package weight increase of 20% led to a cost increase of 315%. Doesn't make any sense to me. Either the letter is costing them more to ship than they are charging or they are overcharging for the 300g parcel.
  • I find it interesting that it is cheaper to send a 300g, 25mm book to the US than it is to ship to Canada, but for a 250g, 20mm book it is the other way around.

I think what we need is something like the small packets service in Canada. We also need some consistency in the rates. They are so many oddities and contradictions in the rates as I've pointed out above.

Some other links:

Comments

That's a long blog about one book to mail. Maybe whoever you are sending it to should just buy the book.
I wonder how much it will cost me to send a t-shirt and a card to Korea? ok goodnight

Actually I have a scale right here and I'm about to go to bed so I just took off my X-Large t-shirt and weighed it. Looks to be about 200g, so it could be between $5.35 and $7.30 with the International Small Packets service. Actually for that price you can ship up to 250g in a 30x30x30 cm3 box to Korea. Which makes me even more irate that it costs over $10 to send a tiny (by comparison) 300g package to Toronto!

I'm not shipping the 300g book though, just a 250g one which is cheap (as I mentioned half way through my post). The 300g was different book I had handy. I was curious what a slightly larger book would cost and was very surprised by what I found.

I agree totally with the description of the bull crap that Canada Post puts us through. One option might be to take a razor blade, cut the book in half right down the spine, send it as two lettermail shipments with a piece of duct tape for the recipient to "re spine" the book. Even with the two separate shipments, the cost will be between $2 and $8 less.

I think you may have too much time on your hands David Grant. I have found myself directed to your site more than once with questions that I have twice in the last month though. Do you think you could summarize your findings at the bottom of your lengthy answers for people like me who have less time on their hands? ;)
p.s. I think you're smart and your 50 most common interview questions were extremely helpful in landing my last job.
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